Your first job as a newly qualified RVN

In the previous post I alluded to the new programme I had been tasked with developing but never managed to get around to telling you more. It’s called the Post Registration Programme and is being created with newly qualified nurses and their first job as an RVN in mind.

Whilst for some the idea of qualifying can seem a long way away, even more so if your OSCES have been delayed,  others you may already be clutching that shiny red badge. Some of you may have already found your niche, you may be lucky enough to have found your practice for life. Maybe you find yourself thinking about your next step. This can be a little overwhelming so what sort of things should you be looking for in your first job as an RVN.

Here are some of things I’ve come to realise are important over the years. These are based on my own experiences as a newly qualified RVN and those of nurses I’ve worked with.

Work life balance

Now we must be realistic about this. Nursing is not and never will be a 9-5 but there are ways of making shift work acceptable and at times really helpful. So, ask what the shifts are, how many of them will have you travelling at rush hour? You’ll be amazed how much time you save by working a little earlier or later than the masses. How many ‘lates’ do you do? Are you alone or is there support? Sometimes starting late can be great, you can often use that time to go for a run, do some studying or simply have a lie in.

Are weekends part of your role? If so, do you get the time back in lieu or are you paid for it. Are your weekends 1:3 Saturdays or 1:8 full weekends? What’s important to you? Remember no job is perfect but if consider how much balance the rota offers you. Some weekends can be very busy, and your love of working weekends is very individual. The same can be said for OOH work. This is marmite, some love the thrill and others hate the uncertainty. Figure out what gets you excited and look for that in a role.

It’s ok to realise your limits and tolerance levels will change over your career. When you first start out often OOHs are exciting and with minimal home life commitments you just love seeing all the cool stuff. Things may change and suddenly you dread those on call shifts and hate the thought of working on a Saturday. It okay to feel like this but this may mean you have to make sacrifices and compromise.

Salary and Benefits

Let’s not beat around the bush. Money is important to all of us. It’s up to us to decide how important. Plus, your circumstances will have an impact on this. Are you living at home, do you have dependants, or do you want to buy a house soon? Remember though the job might offer you value in other ways. Find out how much the CPD budget is and how many days will they give you to attend. If further qualifications, such as a Diploma are on your horizons would they fund this? Are their specialists in the practice that you’ll be able to learn from? What’s the internal CPD program like?

Health care is also one of those things that most of us don’t give much thought to, until we wish we had it. I’ve used private health care on several occasions over the years and I’ve always been glad I’ve had it. No waiting around and often a lot more time allocated for you. I’m beginning to feel we should all have it and the NHS should be for emergency care only….

Do they pay for professional memberships? What about your RCVS Registration, all these things do add up? Also do they pay for additional hours worked or is it just offered back as TOIL. Another point to consider.


What’s their plan for a newly qualified RVN? When I started my career there was very much a sink or swim approach to starting a VN job. Now sometimes that worked and sometimes it didn’t. For me this only works for nurses with experience in a similar environment. It doesn’t work if everything is alien. In my experience it leads to nurses feeling inadequate and incompetent. When in reality they are neither.

For me I felt I learnt of the skills in a tick box manner, I didn’t have time to learn or ask the ‘why’ behind everything I could just complete tasks correctly. This wasn’t the case with every skill but often we don’t know what we don’t know because, well because we don’t know it!

A structured and supportive induction system is vital, especially as a newly qualified nurse in a strange environment. Do they have a buddy system, and would you be introduced to them before they start? Is there a formal skills list and a plan of ensuring the skills and the underpinning knowledge are taught to you?

Your first few months in your new job as an RVN will be very stressful, and you will want and appreciate support.

In Summary:

So that’s the three area’s that I would be considering when taking on your first job as an RVN in practice. As your career moves on you will things that are perhaps a higher priority than those that were important in the beginning. For me career progression became very important but also clinical standards and how valued the nurses were. I realised that working in an environment where the nursing team weren’t heard or respected wasn’t for me. Luckily, I’ve been very fortunate in my roles. My new role is part of making nursing within the Linnaeus groups something special, a truly wonderful concept.

Leave a Comment