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

February 2013

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 was your biggest challenge starting out as a nurse?

A. It's certainly tough when nurses come out of school. My biggest challenge was deciding which specialty to work in. I always thought I’d stick with neonatal intensive care, but I ended up in adult oncology.

I had studied in several different areas with many professors and mentors, and all of these factors played into my thinking that I wanted to stick with neonatal intensive care. It wasn’t until I got into the real world with real work experience that I realized I wasn’t sure. Figuring out my path from one specialty to the other was a challenge – it’s important to stay patient throughout the process.

-Lynn Erdman, RN, MN, OCNS, FAAN, Vice President of Community Health for Susan G. Komen for the Cure in Charlotte, N.C. Erdman has been a nurse for more than 25 years.


Q. What advice would you give to new nurses to help them avoid burnout?

A. Stay positive. Don’t let other people talk you out of what you love. Possibly switch specialties, but don’t become a job-hopper. And never stop learning – learn something new every day.

I also strongly encourage nursing students to get involved, and find something to do to help the community.

-Cheryl Schmidt, Ph.D., RN, CNE, ANEF, FAAN, Associate Professor at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences College of Nursing in Little Rock, Ark., and Subject Matter Expert for Nursing Education for the Red Cross. Schmidt has been working for the Red Cross since 1974.


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

A. As a new nurse, I was always trying to get everything done before I left for the day without realizing that some things could be passed on to another nurse on the next shift. It’s important not to stress yourself out over tasks that another nurse is perfectly capable of handling. You need to know when it’s okay to stop, relax and go home for the day. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s okay to ask for help or to delegate things to your colleagues.

-Jennifer Flynn, RN, BSN, CPHON at Children's Hospital Colorado in Aurora, Colo. Flynn has been a nurse since 2005.

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