Now that you have survived nursing school, and you’re determined to ace the NCLEX®-RN licensure exam, you are probably also very eager to accept the first nursing position that comes available.
But before accepting the nursing position, make sure you ask for a share day on the actual unit to determine if it will be the best fit for you. A share day is simply spending a day or a few hours on a hospital floor to observe the staff, how things run, and the overall vibe. You can either do this as part of a group or on your own.
Here are three questions to ask yourself on a share day to determine the best fit for you:
Is the work environment a good fit?
Spending time on the unit is the best way at getting a good feel for a work environment. There are things that can be easily observed within a few short hours, and these things could very well influence your decision about accepting that particular nursing position.
Pay attention to the attitudes and teamwork effort of the nursing staff, functionality, layout and equipment available to help streamline patient care, and the condition of the unit and facilities in the patient care area.
What are the norms of the unit?
Spending a few hours on a unit during your share day can also provide you with ample time to interview the staff. Make sure you ask questions regarding the average nurse to patient ratios, scheduling, and also the typical flow of the unit.
In addition to interviewing the staff, your observations could include things like patient admission, transfer and discharge rates, how are breaks handled, what methods of communication are in place to help streamline patient care, and what resources are available to nurses to provide safe and effective care.
How balanced is the skill mix of the nursing staff?
During your share day, try to speak with several different nurses on staff. You want to get a feel for the overall blend of experiences. You can ask about how long they have been working in their current position, and ask what they like and dislike about it. You should take into consideration the skill mix and experience levels of the nursing staff on the unit.
Having a nice balance of nurses with high level skills, advanced degrees, and many years of experience will benefit new grad nurses, or nurses that are new to a specific specialty. Having a unit full of new graduate RNs with only a few experienced nurses should be a red flag, and one should exercise extreme caution before accepting such a nursing position.