Transitioning from Student to a Newly Qualified Band 5 Nurse

07 January 2024 By Mike Bowyer

​Once you have completed your studies, the next step is to take your first role as a newly qualified band 5 nurse. The transition from a student nurse to a registered nurse is a lot harder than most people imagine, and it is not something that university lecturers or mentors can help you with. After years of studying and exams, the dream that kept you going through university has finally arrived – but it can be a daunting process. We have put together some expectations that your new role will have of you, and some tips to help make the transition as smooth as possible!

What is expected from a band 5 nurse?

In 2004, the NHS devised a pay scale system that matches a nurse’s skills, abilities, and experience so that everyone is paid fairly. A band 5 nurse is a newly registered nurse, and typically you will enter into a hospital setting. The aim is to progress through the bands as your knowledge and experience increases from working on a ward, with each ward tending to have a training and progression structure in place to help you work towards becoming a band 6 nurse. Taking these opportunities as they present themselves will be vital to increasing your knowledge, and you may find that you discover an area of healthcare that you particularly enjoy and eventually specialise in.

Newly qualified nurses are typically trained by more experienced nurses under a preceptorship, and your mentor will help to guide you through your job. Preceptorship nursing jobs are generally held by qualified and experienced practitioners who have a passion for helping others develop. It is their role to enhance your confidence, competence, critical thinking, and decision-making skills to give you the best possible base to succeed. You need to make sure that you ask plenty of questions, no matter how small or daft they may seem. You want to make sure that you use your mentor as much as possible and learn from the best.

As a new band 5 nurse, you will gain experience of patient evaluation, care delivery, and shift work alongside a wide range of medical professionals. Your daily tasks might include:

  • Helping doctors examine patients and making notes

  • Taking patients temperatures, pule rates and blood pressure

  • Giving injections and administering medicine

  • Monitoring patients progress and updating records

  • Cleaning and dressing wounds

  • Communicating with patients and their relatives about their progress

You may be supervised at times and working independently at others, but don’t think that you will be expected to be competent at everything straight away! A newly qualified nurse will typically work under supervision for 4 – 12 months. The amount of time you spend with your mentor will depend on your professional competency, and everyone is assessed on an individual basis. There are several skills that will help you during your mentorship, including:

  • The ability to work well with other

  • Good attention to detail

  • The desire to help people

  • Sensitivity and empath

  • Willingness to accept criticism

  • The ability to stay cool and calm under pressure

Tips to make a smooth transition

The prospect of finishing your studies and joining the healthcare sector as a newly qualified nurse can seem overwhelming and daunting at first, but it will be worth it! It may seem like you are getting nowhere at first, and there may be some sleepless nights as you think over anything you may have missed, your patient’s welfare, and wondering if you did the right thing. This will pass as you gain confidence in your new skills, abilities, and knowledge and embark on your career full of opportunities and learning. Here are some tips that may help you during the transition period, and while you might think that you have been thrown into the deep end, everyone is in the same boat and this feeling will pass.

  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions – this is probably the most important tip and will serve you well during your time working as a nurse. When you first start, you won’t know where anything is or what to do in certain situations. It is important that you find someone you trust to understand how the ward works, and you are better to ask questions than to get something wrong

  • Being worried or scared isn’t a bad thing – if you are worried or scared to do something wrong, then this will stop you from making mistakes. It is a good sign that you want to make sure you are doing the correct procedures. Try to accept this feeling – you only want to provide the best care possible

  • Make notes on everything! – make sure that you have a record of everything you do in the first few months, it will stand you in good stead as you progress. You will most likely forget about 75% of what you hear due to the fast-paced environment, and it is good to have your notes handy

  • Be early to shifts – as soon as your shift starts you are expected to start your rounds. There will be no 10-minute grace period while you have a cup of tea and settle into your role. Good time management is essential to providing high quality patient care.

  • Admit when you have done something wrong – never be too frightened to ask for help or admit when you have done something wrong. It is much braver to acknowledge when you don’t know something and let more experienced nurses take over than it is to try and bluff your way through. See it as learning from your mistakes and improving your knowledge and coping skills!

  • Don’t compromise on your standards – it is important that you don’t ever compromise on your standards, even if it means challenging people or policies. You spend a lot of time with your patients and may understand their symptoms better than someone superior, and you need to ensure that you speak up if you truly believe it is in your patient’s best interests.

  • Treat every experience as a learning opportunity – you need to reflect on every situation, whether it be good or bad – there is always something you can learn.

  • Support – make sure that you have the right support from your colleagues, superiors, friends, and family. You will need it to get through these demanding and difficult few months as a newly qualified nurse

  • Learn from your colleagues – it is important that you learn from everyone, and not just your superiors. Your colleagues will have years of experiences that will be different to yours, and you can use them to improve your own practices and methods.

  • Believe in yourself – there will be times when you wonder why you choose this path, and you need to remember your initial motivation. When the going gets tough, remember that you are your own biggest resource and keep working towards that dream!

It will be challenging at times, but you always need to remember that it will get better. You are not the first person to experience this transition, and you won’t be the last. You will soon be on the other side and it will be you offering the advice, not seeking it.

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