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

August 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 advice would you give to student nurses interested in pursuing a career as a school nurse?

A. I have worked as a nurse in three different settings, and the school setting has been my absolute favorite place to work. School nursing is a very autonomous practice, so school nurses have the opportunity to work very independently.

For nursing students, I would recommend seeking a clinical placement in a K-12 school. To be able to truly know what a school nurse does, you have to see it in action. I would also encourage students to shadow a school nurse so that they can see firsthand what it would be like to be a nurse in that setting.

Q. What advice can you give to new nurses on how to better maintain a work-life balance?

The first thing to know is that you are not what you do. In terms of work-life balance, it’s important to know yourself and know what you enjoy doing, and incorporate that into your daily life. Nursing is rewarding work but it is hard work, so it’s important that you replenish yourself every day.

-Donna J. Mazyck, MS, RN, NCSN, executive director of the National Association of School Nurses. Mazyck has been a nurse for 35 years.


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

My biggest challenge was finding a balance between intellect and emotion. When I first started my career, I worked in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) performing high-risk deliveries, and while there were several extremely happy moments during this time, there was also a lot of sadness. That sadness can be difficult to deal with, but it’s important to find a balance.

Nurses have a right to be upset when we lose a patient, but it’s also important that we strive to do everything in our power to keep that from happening.

-Kathy Wallace RN, BSN, NCSN, school nurse at Parkway Central Middle School in Chesterfield, Mo. Wallace has been a nurse for 29 years.

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