Surviving Your First Nursing Mistake

If you’ve been a working nurse for more than one shift I guarantee you've made a mistake. Don’t worry, we’ve all been there.  Making mistakes is part of human nature and nurses take them to heart with good reason. Not all mistakes made are created equal, but we can learn from them all.

When a person decides to become a nurse they take on a tremendous amount of responsibility. The first job can cause anxiety and in turn, errors can be made. Sometimes they are made simply because you don’t know what you don’t know as a new graduate. Nurses are typically moving at fast paces and being bombarded by multiple demands and requests…this potentially sets one up for missteps in care.

If you make a mistake I’m here to tell you that you will survive. As a seasoned nurse, I want to tell you that even we make mistakes! I’ve made many mistakes over the course of my career and you know what? I’ve learned from them all. You may be upset, embarrassed or saddened that you did so, but those feelings will pass. In place of those feelings you will have learned a valuable lesson and I bet you will never make the same mistake twice.

The act of making a mistake as a nurse is a humbling experience.  When a mistake is made reflect on what happened to cause it and what can be done to prevent it in the future. Report the error to your management team (no matter how scary this seems!) so they can also do investigation on the cause. Management is not there to punish you like some may believe. They are concerned about patient safety just as much as you are.

Experienced nurses, can you remember the first mistake you make as a nurse? How did it happen and what did you learn for your future practice?

In addition to working as a FNP, Nachole Johnson is a freelance copywriter and an author with her first book, You’re a Nurse and Want to Start Your Own Business? The Complete Guide, available on Amazon. Visit her ReNursing blog at for more ideas on how to reinvent your career.



There is a saying, "Show me a man who has made no mistakes, and I will show you a man who has not learned anything.” Mistakes are part of life. Mistakes give us a chance to learn from life and make men perfect.

I love that saying! It rings true, mistakes do give us an opportunity to learn. 

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