Here’s a 12-point plan of things to consider before commencing your graduate year:
1. Research your new employer
If you are starting a graduate position with a new and unfamiliar organisation, check its website. You will find useful information to prepare for your new job — like campus maps and transport information, or staff hubs with information about systems, policies and procedures.
2. Rest, relax and start fresh
Before you start, take some time to rest and relax — it’s going to be a big year! You will be working as a graduate, studying, and juggling the pressures of everyday life. Being a nursing or midwifery new graduate can expose you to new situations that you may find confronting and difficult to manage.
3. Know your code of conduct and professional standards
As part of registering as a nurse/midwife, you agree to meet the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia professional standards. The standards define the practices and behaviour of nurses and midwives and include codes of conduct, standards for practice and codes of ethics.
These standards are designed to keep you and the people you care for safe. They set boundaries for what you are and are not required to do at work, help guide your decisions and choices and ask you to understand and respect our diverse community.
As your professional regulator, the NMBA has a Code of conduct for nurses and a Code of conduct for midwives. Make sure you know the relevant professional standards and codes of conduct before you start your graduate year — we especially recommend getting familiar with the guidance about how to meet your obligations in relation to social media, since this can be a particular hazard for people who are freshly entering the profession.
4. Work out a wellness plan
Keep your eye on your own health and wellbeing to support your success. Check out our health and wellbeing tips.
Find out how to develop your own wellness plan and use our wellness plan template.
5. Talk to your graduate coordinator
Contact your graduate coordinator and ask if there is anything you need to do before starting to help you to prepare.
6. Chat with a graduate nurse or midwife about their experiences
If you know someone who has recently completed a graduate year ask if you can chat over coffee and ask them their tips for a successful graduate year.
7. Refer to useful resources
There are many online resources to help you succeed. Here’s a list to get you started:
Graduate Nurses and Midwives - Your Health Matters from NMSupportAU on Vimeo
8. Create or join a community of practice
Communities of practice (CoPs) are groups of nurses/midwives at similar stages of their careers. They come together to share their passion for their profession and strive — through collaboration — to become better practitioners.
Find out more about the benefits of CoPs from this study published in Nurse Education Today: Newly qualified nurses — Experiences of interaction with members of a community of practice.
You can ask the Nurse & Midwife Support team to meet with your CoP and talk about how we can provide support — get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
9. Prime your support crew
Lean on your friends, family, and special people in your life. Let those who support you know that you expect to have a big work year. Check in with them regularly, share your concerns and celebrate your success. Schedule social time and fun activities.
10. Consider clinical supervision
Reflect on your work as you go with a professional supervisor. Julie Sharrock, Clinical Supervisor, explains the benefits in her article Clinical Supervision: What is it about?
If you can’t afford clinical supervision, find a mentor — a nurse or midwife who works clinically and has several years’ experience. Your workplace may run a mentor program for graduates or you can try your professional nursing/midwifery organisation. Find out about the benefits of mentor programs.
11. Learn about professional boundaries
Professional boundaries help you to practise safely and enjoy your work without overstepping your responsibilities. They are an essential tool to protect, care for yourself and promote safe practice. Read Dr Wendy McIntosh’s article about asserting your professional boundaries and the NMBAs codes of conduct.
12. Monitor and manage your stress
Stress is part of life and work. We all live with stress — it can be energising and motivating. Sometimes stress becomes unhealthy and does not serve our wellbeing.
Check in with yourself and your colleagues and learn how to take your ‘stress temperature’.