Newbie Nurse Mistakes You Have Got To Avoid


Elisa will be starting work on Monday as, finally after a long long time, a Registered Nurse. She couldn’t contain her excitement as her long-awaited moment has finally arrived. She has worked hard for this: sacrificed hours of sleep and her Friday nightlife as well as burned midnight oils studying for her one too many exams. This is it, this really is her time to shine.

However, despite her excitement, she is also nervous. Being a newbie, she doesn’t know what to expect. Sure, she has gone on duty several times when she was still a student, however, in those clinical duties, she had a Clinical Instructor backing her. Now, she’s on her own. How will she be able to do this? What are some mistakes she has to avoid considering that she is still a newbie nurse?

Leaving the bed in high position and/or with side rails down

Sometimes, when you transfer a patient from a gurney to a bed, it is easy to forget some things such as making sure that the side rails are up. You should not let this happen as you will be putting your patients at risk of falling.

Patient falls may also occur when patients are left unattended by folks and they attempt to get up on their own to use the bathroom or pick up something out of reach. You can avoid this by making sure that the patient’s belongings are within reach. You can check on the patient while during your rounds. Also, let patients know that you are always ready to help in case they need assistance from you.

Administering the wrong medication

In medication administration, there will always be drugs that may sound the same and look the same. However never be fooled since though they may seem alike, they may also have different actions and effects. Sometimes, you might also get confused. When this happens, never hesitate to ask. Put aside your ego and not risk your patient’s health.

You can also avoid committing medication errors by having presence of mind and reviewing the 10 Rs of medication administration.

Forgetting to remove old transdermal patch when applying a new one

This may include duragesic, nicotine, or nitropaste. Some patients have patches stuck all over their back and arms. When applying a new one, be sure and assess first.

Calling the wrong doctor

What you must consider when doing referrals and seeking medical advice is that some patients have multiple specialists, and it’s not always easy to know which one to call for what. Make your best guess, then consult another nurse or ask your charge nurse.

Forgetting to chart a procedure performed

You should never underestimate the importance of complete charting. When the time comes that a patient decides to sue you, your documentation will be your armor. Always remember that a procedure not charted is a procedure not performed. Never rush when documenting, make sure that everything done within the shift is recorded in the chart. Also, when you’re having difficulty documenting, ask your seniors.

Discharging your patient home with a saline lock.

You have instructed the home meds and discharged the patient, however there is one thing that you forgot—that is removing the saline lock. This mistake happens when you go in to discharge a patient, and they are already dressed, complete with clothing and shoes. Even when the patient is about to be discharged, never neglect the power of assessment.


From the moment you set foot in nursing school, you have come to realize that nursing is a no-joke profession. Everything is important as what we deal here are actual lives of people. That is why, as nurses, we must always make sure that quality care is provided and that we must avoid committing errors at all costs since even the smallest and simplest mistakes can make the biggest effect on the patient’s safety.



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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