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Learn from Industry Leaders How to Kick-Start Your Nursing Career

April 2013

Attention all student nurses and new nurses – are you interested in learning how to expand your network, prep for interviews or gain valuable experience in nursing? Or maybe you want to know what to expect during your first year as a nurse. We are inviting student nurses and nurses with less than five years of nursing experience to share your fundamental questions with us on the Nursing Notes by Johnson & Johnson Facebook Page and on Twitter @JNJNursingNotes. Each month, we will pick a few questions to highlight in this section with responses provided by seasoned nurses!

Q. What are some unique opportunities nursing graduates have today that they may not have had in the past?

A. If you look at the nursing shortage nationwide, there are significant opportunities for graduates right now. Thirty years ago, it was pretty much assumed that nursing students would immediately transition to a doctor’s office or a hospital – those were pretty much your only options, so that’s what we all focused on. Today, nurses are more highly educated, and their knowledge and expertise can be utilized in other industries such as manufacturing, consulting, non-profit and community-based work, among many others.

That being said, I certainly don’t discourage nursing graduates from going to work in a hospital. I wouldn’t trade my hospital experience for the world! But there really is a broad spectrum of opportunities in the workforce that new nurses might not want to rule out.

-Laura Wenger, RN, and executive director of Practice Greenhealth in Chicago, Ill. Wenger has been a nurse for 18 years.

Q. What was your biggest challenge starting out as a nurse?

A. My biggest challenge as a new nurse was finding my own voice. I didn’t feel comfortable delegating to the nurse technicians and would avoid it at all cost, which led me to staying late and being overwhelmed. It’s important for new nurses to remember that mental health is important – although it is hard to find the work-life balance at times, it can be done.

Q. What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were starting your career?

A. I wish I knew that I really couldn't save the world – that at some point one of my pediatric patients may die and my job is to provide comfort and support; that deep breathing and a calm attitude can get you through most crises; and lastly, that it is okay – and encouraged – for the tears and feeling to flood once it is over.

-Charlotte Wallace, RN, pediatric nurse and sustainability coordinator at Anne Arundel Medical Center (AAMC) in Annapolis, Md. Wallace has been a nurse for 19 years.

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