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

March 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 can a recent graduate with little work experience do to stand out in a job interview?

A. During an interview, recent grads should talk about their education, as well the part of their education they found to be most useful as it relates to the job they are applying for. They should know what the duties are going to be if they get the job and look back to their education and clinical experience so they can pick out specific experiences that show they are qualified for the job.

They also need to be willing to be flexible and understand that not too many employers will hire a new graduate into high acuity positions, such as those in the Intensive Care Unit, because they want nurses with a little more experience. Recent graduates should to be willing to accept a more generalist type of job for a year or so with the goal of applying for a position with higher acuity later on.

-Cynthia Watson, MSN, FNP, ADM-NP, nursing instructor at University of Louisiana at Lafayette in Lafayette, La. Watson has been a nurse for more than 30 years and a nurse practitioner for nearly 13 years.


Q. What’s something you wish you had known as a student nurse that you know now?

A. Looking back, I wish I hadn’t been as timid when it came to speaking up about my patients’ needs to other healthcare staff. Nurses are able to counsel their patients and relay that information back to the team they are working with – it’s important that everyone, from the nurses to the physicians, know what the patient is going through to ensure that they are providing the best care possible.

-Marjorie Cypress, Ph.D., RN, CNP, CDE, President-Elect of the American Diabetes Association, and independent consultant and adult nurse practitioner with Albuquerque Health Partners in Albuquerque, N.M. Cypress has been a nurse for 32 years.


Q. What advice would you offer a recent graduate searching for the “right” specialty?

A. Many nursing students are lucky enough to find their passions going through clinical rotations in nursing school. For example, I decided that I wanted to work with children well before I graduated. For others, finding a specialty can be more challenging. For those students who aren’t quite sure, I always suggest going into a medical-surgical unit to gain strong clinical skills. Medical-surgical work can introduce young nurses to a variety of specialties they might have not previously considered, and the skills gained will be invaluable in the long run.

-Lynda Stallwood, Ph.D., CPNP-PC, Assistant Professor at Chamberlain College of Nursing in Detroit, Mich. Stallwood has been a nurse for more than 26 years and a nurse educator for 10 years.

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