5 Things I Wish I Knew When I First Started Nursing

5 Things I Wish I Knew When I First Started Nursing

I remember the day I graduated from nursing school as one of the happiest days of my life. I knew that this was a huge accomplishment and was so relieved to finally be done with all of the clinicals, research papers, and an unbelievable amount of tests. At 22 years old, it felt like the worst days were behind me and I was sure that the best was yet to come.

That was seven years ago. Although I’m grateful for the many ways my nursing degree has enriched my life, there are a few things that I would give anything to go back and tell my 22 year old self. I hope these tips will be helpful to others who are in the early stage of their nursing career.

Know Your Worth

As a new graduate nurse with little or no experience, it’s easy to sell yourself short by accepting a pay rate that is less than what you think you deserve because you are eager to start practicing. However, the hiring process is your best opportunity to negotiate a fair salary and you should feel confident about asking for reasonable pay. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and statistics, the median wage for registered nurses in 2020 was a little more than 36 dollars per hour. While it’s not realistic to expect to start out at the same rate as an entry level nurse, becoming familiar with average numbers can serve as a reference when evaluating the compensation offered by a potential employer. Researching average pay rates for graduate nurses in the state you will be working in can also give you a more specific number to aim for, as pay rates may vary by state. Gaining clarity on a standard starting rate will ensure that you don’t end up working for less than you deserve.

‍Set Financial Goals

Retirement is something that seems ages away when you’re a young adult. It can even appear far away to individuals who are in their thirties or forties. For many, it may never become a reality because they didn’t start thinking about it until it was too late. Have you ever heard the phrase, “Time is money?” That statement rings true in a lot of ways, but especially in relation to saving and investing. The sooner you start accumulating wealth and managing it in such a way that it will grow over time, the more money you will have later on in life. I wish I would have started investing in index funds and retirement accounts earlier on. Doing so would have likely increased my overall net worth by now.

Find Your Hobbies

When you work in nursing full time, your job can quickly become all-consuming. Even if you’re off the clock, you may find yourself thinking about a certain patient or situation. It can be difficult to successfully separate your work and personal life, but it is crucial for your overall health to find at least one or two hobbies that help you unplug from the stress that comes with being a nurse. Making time for yourself may feel wrong or foreign at first, but give yourself permission to rest and enjoy your time off. This way, you can preserve your health and protect yourself from burnout in the long run.

Consider the Perks of Being a Night Owl

Night shift nursing is not for everyone. It certainly has its cons such as irregular hours, sleep deprivation, and less staffing. However, it also comes with some incredible perks that can make it worthwhile for those who are able to manage the physical challenges it brings and want to make some extra money. Night shift differentials are almost always at least $2-$3 more per hour. There may also be additional incentives if you are willing to work nights and weekends. Some additional benefits include quieter surroundings (not always but more often than not), extra snacks or caffeine, and the opportunity to take a nice nap during your “lunch” break if you feel like you need some rest mid-shift.

Keep Learning

Once you have passed the N-CLEX and landed your first job, it’s easy to become complacent in your nursing knowledge. However, as you begin to train and work with other nurses, you will find that all good nurses never stop learning. Ask your employer about additional training and education courses they may offer and whether they are provided to you at no cost. Oftentimes, you can take advantage of these opportunities to advance your skills and strengthen your nursing abilities without paying any of your own money. 


These are just a few of the many tips that can be beneficial to new nurses and make a big impact on their personal and financial life in the long run. If you are interested in learning more about managing your money wisely, join our waitlist to get one step closer to growing your financial wealth and freedom.

Allison Lennartz

Allison Lennartz works in addiction and recovery medicine at a facility in Texas. She enjoys spending time with her husband, family, and friends, and is always looking for a good book to read!


Answering questions related to all things nursing and money.