5 Common Mistakes New Nurses Make

It’s Janna’s first day of work as a nurse. Yes, she longed for this moment to come. In fact, it’s a dream come true. Finally, after years of struggling and studying, she is now a nurse. However, despite all the preparations she has had in nursing school, she just couldn’t help but feel nervous. Were all those that she has learned in school enough? Is she ready for this? What if she commits mistakes? What would happen?

nurses mistake

In a profession which deals with something as delicate as life, there is no room for errors. However, though we try so hard to commit them, there are still some mistakes that nurses commit especially when they are new in the profession.

Medication Errors

Despite all those we’ve learned in Pharmacology subjects in nursing school, there are still instances when we get confused and commit errors in administering medications, even those who have been in the profession in a long time commit errors. Studies have shown that administration errors can account for anywhere up to 32% of medication errors. However, though these might be common, nurses should know that they are not acceptable as some medication errors may be deadly. To prevent committing such error, it is important that you double, triple and quadruple-checking meds before administering them. Do not rush when administering meds. And if you have questions, check the chart and ask the doctor.

Body Mechanics

We have heard our clinical instructors emphasize the importance of body mechanics over and over in nursing school, but admit it, we didn’t really pay attention to it, nor observed it in the clinical area. New nurses are especially susceptible injuries since they may feel flustered, are trying to hurry to one of the other dozens of tasks they must perform, or believe they are invulnerable to injury. Nurses must remember that there is a right way — and many wrong ways — to perform several procedures. For example, in patient transfer, lift with your legs and never your back and don’t hesitate to get a friend to help you. Raise everything you can to a working height for you and use the available tools, like gait belts, transfer boards and lift equipment.


Some may neglect to realize this, but documentation is very important in nursing care. Those actions not documented weren’t done. Since clear and complete documentation takes practice and time before it becomes automatic, so a new nurse is especially susceptible to these mistakes. To address this issue, there are policies about how to chart depending on your facility. Just be sure to study these policies and make them second nature.

Seeking help and support

Yup, no man is an island. This especially applies to nurses and other members of the healthcare team. We need one another to achieve quality care. However, there are instances when we call for help without the right information on hand, which should not be the case as you should never call for the assistance of a physician without already having all of the patient’s relevant information ready. A nurse needs to be primed with the information so that he/she can get assistance quickly and effectively. If not, you risk making yourself look like an amateur in front of other nurses, doctors, as well as your patient.

Prioritization and delegation

You don’t really have the luxury of time in the clinical area. Every single minute counts and each task must be performed on time that is why prioritization is very much important. However, this may come a bit challenging for those new in the profession. Prioritizing tasks is a learned skill that must be practiced and developed through experience. In prioritizing patient’s needs, the ABCs: airway, breathing and circulation must always take precedence. Nurse must also learn to delegate properly since assistants (who are there to help you with basic tasks) could become overwhelmed and unable to perform their tasks adequately if delegation is not done correctly.


First days of working as a nurse can be very challenging. Everybody had been there, even the most experienced ones. There may be struggles and a whole lot of confusion. However, with enough practice and experience, we can overcome this. What’s important is that we value the importance of delivering quality care to patients and are eager to learn the ways on how best to achieve it.



Liane Clores, RN MAN

Currently an Intensive Care Unit nurse, pursuing a degree in Master of Arts in Nursing Major in Nursing Service Administration. Has been a contributor of Student Nurses Quarterly, Vox Populi, The Hillside Echo and the Voice of Nightingale publications. Other experience include: Medical-Surgical, Pediatric, Obstetric, Emergency and Recovery Room Nursing.

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