5 Common Nurse Mistakes and Tips for Job Success

young woman nurse in blue scrubs with concerned look on face contemplating job mistake

Everyone makes mistakes — even nurses! Whether you’re just starting your nursing career or are a seasoned pro, there’s always a potential for error. However, knowing common nurse mistakes and their consequences is crucial for achieving job success.

Discover these five common mistakes nurses make on the job and use these must-have tips for success.

Common Nurse Mistakes to Avoid

By taking steps to avoid common mistakes, you can protect your patients, maintain your nursing license, and ensure professional success. Remember, we’re all here to support each other and ensure the best possible care for those in our care.

Start by avoiding some of these most common “uh-ohs” as a nurse:

1. Medication Errors

Medication mishaps are among the most common nurse mistakes, often carrying severe consequences for patients. Depending on the mistake and medication, they can severely affect a patient’s health and even livelihood.

Luckily, there are clear steps you can take to avoid these nurse mistakes and find job success:

  • Understand the medications you’re administering.
  • Know the difference between similar and similar-looking medications.
  • Familiarize yourself with your patient’s health, history, and allergens.
  • Cross-reference patient charts and prescriptions.
  • Adopt a habit of double or even triple-checking before administering any medication.

2. Speeding Through Paperwork

Incomplete or rushed documentation is among the top nurse mistakes. Nurse mistakes in documentation typically occur when nurses wait too long or forget to fill out a chart, don’t fully understand the information, rush through the document, skip over sections, or simply aren’t thorough, clear, and organized.

Take the time to neatly document all details ASAP, especially with patient charting in nursing. Your diligence supports your patient’s health, care plan, outcomes, and professional job success.

3. Not Asking for Help When You Need It

Asking for help can be daunting, especially for new nurses eager to prove themselves. However, prioritizing patient welfare means prioritizing your own learning and growth, too.

If you ever have a question, doubt, or clarification, just ask! Put your patient’s needs first, even when caring for difficult patients.

Every question asked is an opportunity to enhance your skills and contribute more effectively to patient care. Just make sure you’re listening and learning so you can eventually know how to perform these tasks on your own and gain job success.

4. Not Knowing the Proper Risk & Safety Procedures

Nurse mistakes and accidents often occur when nurses aren’t fully trained and comfortable with risk procedures. Take proactive steps to familiarize yourself with potential risks in your work environment, such as falls, infections, or equipment hazards. When uncertain, don’t hesitate to reach out to your nurse manager for guidance or additional training.

5. Lack of Self-Care

At the end of the day, these mistakes can be made by nurses, new and experienced. Much of it comes down to nursing self-care. When you’re tired, burnt out, not eating, drinking, or sleeping enough, it’s much easier to make nurse mistakes in paperwork, medication, health, or safety.

Take care of yourself so you can show up for your patients and find your job success.

Tips for Job Success as a Nurse

Utilize Facility Leadership, Management, & Coworkers

You have a community of caring, experienced experts around you. Leverage the expertise of your colleagues, mentors, and supervisors! Don’t hesitate to ask questions, seek advice, or delegate tasks when necessary. Know what tasks you’re responsible for, including where those duties end.

Building a strong professional network helps pave the path to your career goals. Part of finding job success as a nurse is realizing you don’t have to do it all alone.

Give Yourself Grace on New Assignments

No nurse is 100% confident on their first day of a new assignment or job opportunity!

Go into your new facility eager but take it easy. Ask questions and take the time to truly listen and understand. In addition, seek and accept feedback as an opportunity to get better.

By recognizing that you’re not 100% in the know on Day 1, you can open yourself up to growth and avoid common nurse mistakes.

Tailor Your Daily Routine to Your Shift

Starting a new nursing shift? Adjust your daily routine to align with the demands of your shift and schedule. With a few consistent adjustments, you can make sure you get enough sleep and nutrients to fuel your job success every step of the way.

Practice Double-Checking

Create a thorough routine for medication administration and documentation, making double-checking (or triple checking!) a habit. Understand the drug class, any interactions, dosages, and so on. Some prescriptions can have very similar labels, so it’s essential not to go from looks alone.

Also, make it a habit to double-check any charts and paperwork. When documenting, review everything to ensure it is correct. Use references and ask for clarification whenever needed to avoid common nurse mistakes. Even if it takes extra time, make sure your handwriting is 100% clear and legible!

To Avoid Nurse Mistakes, Never Stop Learning

Lastly, the best nurses know that education doesn’t stop after graduation! Make it a motto to never stop learning, explore career advancement opportunities, training, and even certificates. This can help you avoid common mistakes, ensure success, and be the most confident nurse you can be.

Find & Experience Job Success in Your Nursing Career

As a nurse, the more you turn to your network, community, and resources, the easier you can avoid common mistakes and become even more successful. For instance, CareerStaff’s dedicated Clinical Services Team is always here to help our nurses on assignment.

Looking for your next nursing job opportunity? Search hundreds of in-demand nursing jobs nationwide, or quick apply below to connect with a dedicated recruiter. Discover unmatched support for your career goals today!

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