Your 12-point plan for graduate year success

Mark Aitken
Mark welcomes graduate nurses and graduate midwives to the profession and offers a 12-point plan to guide you along the path ahead

young smiling nurse at patient's bedside

Graduate nurses and graduate midwives: welcome to the Nurse & Midwife Support newsletter. This issue is full of tips, strategies and resources to help you prepare for the year ahead. 

We are here for you as you embark on your career. Our team is operated by fellow nurses and midwives who will support you through the emotional challenges and surprises that are part of working in these professions. You can call our national support line 24/7 on 1800 667 877 or email us. The service is anonymous, confidential, and free. Add our number to the contacts in your phone so it’s always handy when you need us! 

Acknowledge your achievement

Congratulations! You’ve been working hard and you’ve completed your Bachelor of Nursing or Bachelor of Midwifery. Take a moment to feel proud of this career milestone: your registration as a nurse/midwife. We’re proud of you and excited for you. 

Learn about transition shock

Transition shock is a real thing. It’s good to know about it so that if it strikes, you understand what is happening.

In her article Is your graduate nurse suffering from transition shock? Erin Wakefield reveals that ‘transition shock’ describes the experience of moving from the comfortable and familiar role of the preregistration nursing/midwifery student to the professional registered nurse/midwife.

Transition shock has a foundational basis in Kramer’s theory of ‘reality shock,’ which describes the phenomenon of studying for many years to practice a particular role, and then finding the professional reality is different than expected.

Knowing what transition shock is and preparing to experience it can lessen the impact. Check out the new episode of our podcast, Episode 38: Stories of the Graduate Year with Francis and Robyn.  As part of a wide-ranging discussion, we talked about transition shock and how you can deal with it. 

Take time to prepare

To reduce the impact of the transition to work, you can prepare for success in your graduate year. We’ve put together blogs, podcasts, and resources you can add to your graduate-year tool kit.

As you embark on your graduate year you may experience a range of emotions from excitement, hope, anticipation, anxiety, and fear of the unknown. Sit with your feelings, note them, even consider keeping a journal. Documenting and recording how you feel and your experiences can be a useful reflective practice. 

Your plan to support your graduate year

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 [email protected]

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’

In this issue

Blog: Our tips to thrive in your grad year

Life as a graduate nurse or graduate midwife can be intimidating, but there are steps you can take to help you thrive.  Nurse & Midwife Support clinician Celeste Pinney shares our tips to get you through the year. Read more. 

Blog: FAQ: Answers for grad nurses and midwives

Celeste answers the questions that we hear over and over from graduate nurses and graduate midwives who want to succeed in their new profession. Read more. 

Podcast: Stories of the graduate year with Francis and Robyn 

Recent graduates Robyn and Francis join me and special guest co-host Celeste on the Nurse & Midwife Support podcast to share their insights, experiences tips and strategies for navigating your graduate year. Listen to the podcast.

Podcast: A Graduate Coordinator’s advice for new grads with Joanne Purdue

Experienced former Graduate Coordinator Joanne Purdue joins us to share her passion for supporting graduate students, along with guidance for the year ahead such as why it’s a good idea to do a graduate workshop before or early in the year. Listen to the podcast.  

Talk to us – we’re here to support you

If you would like to chat to someone about your health and wellbeing, preparing for your graduate year or any issue you face during your career, you can call our national confidential support line 24/7 on 1800 667 877 or email us. The service is anonymous, confidential, and free. 

Best wishes for your graduate year. We hope it is one of the best experiences of your career. As one of our podcast guests reminds us, you’ll only do a grad year once. Enjoy it. And look after yourself and your fellow graduates — your graduate year matters.

Express your interest — Nurse & Midwife Support Mentor Program for New Graduates Coming Soon!

Banner: Apply now for the mentor program

Nurse & Midwife Support are commencing a mentorship program in March this year! The mentorship program focuses on building nurturing and collaborative relationships to support new graduates during the initial phase of entering the workforce and ultimately maintaining a stable nurse and midwife workforce. 

Are you interested in being a mentor or mentee? Find out more about the Nurse & Midwife Support Mentor Program for New Graduates.

Mark Aitken RN
Stakeholder Engagement Manager
Nurse & Midwife Support