How to Thrive on Your First Day as an International Nurse

Mar 18, 2022

Are you a nurse who has recently arrived in the UK and about to start a new role? There’s usually quite a bit you need to learn as a new starter – about your colleagues, workplace environment, computer systems … and the best place to get coffee.

It’s natural for even the most experienced nursing professionals to get butterflies on their first shift. Plus, if you’re a nurse moving to the UK you also have the added complexity of living in a new country and learning a new culture.

To help you start your new job the right way, we’ve put together some advice to tackle those first-day nerves.

Get Prepared Before Your First Day

To set yourself up for success, gather all the key information you need in one place. You never know how much assistance you’ll get from colleagues on your first day, especially if your shift is during a busy period. Making a checklist can do wonders for reducing first-day anxiety.

Your checklist can include:

  • Contact details of who you are reporting to at work
  • Contact details of your staffing agency
  • Where and when you need to arrive for work
  • If you need to bring anything with you, e.g., identification, badges, swipe cards, etc.
  • Any information needed for completing timesheets and other paperwork
  • Map and directions to your work site, including public transport routes or parking facilities

Fuelling your body and mind is also essential, so don’t forget to plan ahead for meals. Decide if it’s easier to bring your own food or if you can buy something easily during your shift break. And try to get as much sleep as possible the night before you start so you are as rested and alert.

As your nursing agency, WESolutions helps you make all the essential preparations, so you’ll be good to go without any hassles.

During Your First Shift

  1. Arrive Early

Planning your commute to work is important to avoid being late and missing out on the shift handover. Work out how long the journey will take each way by public transport or by car if you have access to one. Give yourself plenty of ‘buffer’ time before arriving to work so you’re not at the mercy of fickle bus schedules. If you are on a night shift, make sure you know how to get there and home safely.

Arriving early also gives you time to familiarise yourself with your surroundings, meet new colleagues and feel more relaxed before the show starts!

  1. Say Hello!

With every new colleague you meet, take the time to ask their name and introduce yourself. Although you might not remember every person’s name on the first go, making this effort is a show of respect to your colleagues and will help them quickly get to know you.

  1. Learn the Systems

Learning a new computer and filing system can be challenging as a new starter. The quicker you learn the systems, the more efficient you’ll be. Arriving early can also give you time to wrap your head around the basics.

You‘ll need to allow yourself time to learn the facility’s programs and network, so you know how to access forms, patient notes and other resources. Be sure to write down each step as you learn, to help you remember processes in the future

  1. Ask Questions and Take Notes

While you may be worried about bothering people, remember that you are expected to ask questions on your first day. As you get to know your new environment, make sure you understand all the critical information for carrying out your duties so you can look after patients to the best possible standard.

Your nursing recruitment agency will also give you all the key information you need about the role and the workplace. When you receive any information from the facility or your agency, read it as soon as you can and note any questions that arise.

  1. Have Fun

Don’t forget to be easy on yourself! As any experienced nurse understands, showing your smile goes a long way on the first day at work. It’s a tough profession at times, so laughter really is the best medicine.

There’s always a chance something can go wrong – you might choose the wrong floor and get lost, forget your superior’s name or make some other mistake. Being able to keep your frustration at bay will help your time at work be enjoyable.

Ensure you thank anyone who takes the time to help you – they will be more likely to help you again when you really need it.

Final Thoughts

In nursing jobs, the first day is usually an exciting one but it’s also easy to feel a little anxious as well. By preparing as much as you can ahead of the first shift, you can start your new role feeling more calm and focused.

If you’re ready for your next career move, our team of nurse recruitment specialists can help you find your ideal role. To learn more about the jobs we have available and get more international nursing job advice, get in touch with our team.