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No matter you are a new physician or a new dentist, first day of the job can be ironic–you're excited about the new position and equally nervous about how the day will go. Getting butterflies in your stomach on your first day is completely normal and happens to most people.

This is an edited version of a story previously published on Dr. Bill.

However, it can get challenging to make a good first impression if you’re too nervous. People are prone to nervousness and anxiety when they’re facing the unknown. While a new job isn’t something you should be afraid of, it can still get a bit challenging because you’re experiencing something new and you’re not sure what to expect.

It could be that your position is entirely new and something you don’t have a lot of knowledge of or maybe the hospital or clinic is bigger than the last practice you worked at and all the first-day formalities can get overwhelming. However, the first step to answering how to start a new job well is by acknowledging your nerves and focusing on a good start.

In this article, we’ll explore how to calm nerves before starting a new job and show your best self on the first day of work.

How to start a new job successfully

1. Remind yourself what you’ll be doing

It’s easy to lose sight of what you’ll be doing when you’re too nervous. So, before leaving your house, take some time to go through the job description again and prepare yourself for the responsibilities. This will help you start your day with a real sense of purpose and will help you understand what to expect from the week ahead.

Also, remind yourself why you wanted this job and everything you did to get it. Insecurity is another strong emotion that most people feel on the first day. Reminding yourself that the employer chose you for the role can be helpful in reinforcing the faith in your abilities and make you believe that you’ll be a great fit for the role. Take it one step at a time instead of getting consumed by what the whole day will be like at once.

2. Proactively Ask Questions

In a high-pressure, task-based environment like a clinic or hospital, most rookie mistakes happen not because of incompetence but from a reluctance to ask all the questions needed to make an informed decision.

Most doctors worry that by asking too many questions they’ll come across as incompetent and so they decide to act based on what they know, which on your first day (or even first week) can be the wrong strategy.

Instead of worrying about how you might be perceived, focus on doing the job well. In a new environment the only way for you to understand the processes is by asking questions. Often most team members expect and are willing to answer questions especially if it’ll prevent any future problems and help the new doctor get up to speed.

3. Work towards building trust

In a high-stress and fast-paced environment, trust is vital. Your patients and nurses need to trust that you’ll make the right decisions. Not just that, your colleagues need to trust your knowledge and judgement too. While your new team members might welcome you with a certain amount of trust based on your past experience, most of it has to be earned over time by doing good work and offering high-quality patient care.

Here are some things that you can do to build trust among peers:

  • Always be honest and upfront about your interactions with others
  • Admit when you’re unsure or don’t know how to deal with something
  • Follow through your commitments and promises and keep your colleagues updated at all time

4. Don’t expect to have all the answers

Most doctors and dentists start their first day as if they’re on their interview where they need to have answers to almost all the questions straight away. Remember that you’ve already passed the toughest test and have gotten the reward (the new job). All you need to do now is be confident, ask questions, and take in all the information you can. Avoid coming across as a know-it-all and show a real willingness to learn.

Your seniors will not expect you to have all the answers so don’t panic if you make a mistake or are completely unaware of something. Minor errors are part of the learning and adapting process and most employers are generally understanding enough to give you the space needed to make mistakes and learn.

However, ensure that you take full accountability of all your actions. It’s far better to admit that you’ve done something wrong and try to find a solution for it instead of hiding it.

5. Keep a pen and paper ready at all times

Whether it’s general instructions, passcodes, login details, or a to-do list, it’s a good practice to have a notepad and pen handy to write down all the important stuff as soon as you hear it.

There’s a lot that happens on the first day and chances are that you’ll be bombarded with a lot of information. It’ll be nearly impossible for you to retain tiny details amidst the excitement and nervousness such as names of colleagues, login details, etc.

Keeping a written account of everything you need to do will help you stay on track throughout your induction period and will avoid the stress of missing out on anything.

6. Remind yourself that you won’t be new forever

New and unknown is scary and it’s absolutely natural to feel confused and nervous on the first day of a job but remember: it will pass.

If you feel like your anxiety is getting difficult to manage, remember that new things soon become familiar. All it takes is a little bit of time. Reassure yourself that you’ve already tackled the most difficult tasks that are acing your interview and negotiating your contract. If you could go through that, this isn’t that difficult.

In a matter of a few weeks, this job will become second nature to you and you’ll have made friends with your colleagues. You’ll have familiarized yourself with all the processes and even the inside jokes that make the job fun.

To calm your nerves, think of your anxiety as excitement and try to look at the bigger picture. By shifting your thought process you’ll be able to ease your stress and settle into your new situation better.

Your new job is a positive experience and a great opportunity for you to advance in your professional life. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Acknowledging that you will make mistakes and that you will not know a lot of things will help improve your mood and will give you a more productive mindset on your first day.

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