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10 Rookie Nurse Mistakes to Avoid

10 Rookie Mistakes to Avoid Avoid these 10 Rookie Mistakes

These are 10 common rookie mistakes almost every nurse makes- and sometimes seasoned nurses, too!

10 Rookie Mistakes to Avoid

Avoid these 10 Rookie Mistakes

  1. Re-starting an IV only to have the MD walk in and discharge your patient. Consider the possibility before automatically restarting.
  2. Referring to the female at your patient’s bedside as his daughter. Or his mother. (It’s his wife).
  3. Leaving the rollerball clamped on your IV antibiotic so it doesn’t infuse. Usually not noticed until the next shift.
  4. Clearing your IV pump and immediately forgetting the totals. Requires higher math to mentally calculate totals. Always jot it down.
  5. Reading a tele strip upside down. Amazing how much better the rhythm looks right side up.
  6. Leaving the bed in high position and/or with side rails down. Easy mistake to make after transferring a patient over into the the bed from a guerney. Related: forgetting to reset the bed alarm when your patient goes back to bed.
  7. Discharging a patient with a saline lock. This mistake happens when you go in to discharge a patient, and they are already dressed, sitting on the side of the bed. Your brain is tricked into forgetting the saline lock under their flannel shirt sleeve. Related: discharging with pacing wires still in the chest (it happens!).
  8. Failing to remove the old transdermal patch when applying new one (duragesic, nicotine, nitropaste). Some patients have patches stuck all over their back and arms. Do a full body check.

  9. Forgetting to remind MD to adjust insulin for NPO status. This happens when the doctor makes the patient NPO after midnight for procedure in the am, and forgets to address the am insulin. The night nurse will now have to call, or, worse case scenario, gives the insulin. (note: some basal insulins are intended to be administered when NPO, so check)

  10. Calling the wrong doctor. Some patients have up to five specialists, and it’s not always easy to know which one to call for what. Make your best guess, then double check with another nurse. For great tips on calling MDs, read Calling MDs is like playing football

Another common mistake- thinking you’ll never get your time management down and become organized. Error in thinking! Trust me, you will. In a very short time, you’ll no longer be the new nurse, but the one new grads look up to!

What rookie mistakes have you made or witnessed? Leave me a note, I’d love to hear!

Related posts:

First Day off Orientation!

  My first medication error: I was Suspended


Best wishes,

Nurse Beth

Author “Your Last Nursing Class: How to Land Your First Nursing Job..and your next!” 

Come visit me at Ask Nurse Beth  career column at for all kinds of  entertaining and informative career questions and answers, and to submit your own question :)

About Beth Hawkes (146 Articles)
Nice to meet you! I'm a Nursing Professional Development Specialist in acute care, a writer, speaker and career columnist.

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