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

November 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 nursing students interested in becoming a clinical nurse leader?

A. Don't wait too long to obtain your Master of Science in nursing. The advanced generalist nature of the CNL and the skill set learned in your master’s program can be applied to any future subspecialty or clinical setting.

One other piece of advice is to be fearless, tactful and courageous in your pursuit of quality for safe, effective patient care. Never lose your enthusiasm, your compassion or your sense of humor – each of these qualities will carry you for miles throughout your career.

-Cathy Coleman, RN, MSN, OCN®, CPHQ, CNL, DNP(c), adjunct professor at the University of San Francisco School of Nursing and Health Professionals in San Francisco, Calif. Coleman has been a nurse for more than 40 years.


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

A. One of the questions I always ask in an interview is “What is the difference between a good nurse and a great nurse?” It’s important for nurses to be able to indicate in their response that the difference lies in the relationship with the patient because it shows that they entered nursing for the right reason – it really is all about patient care and helping people.

-Nina Swan, MSN, RN, CMSRN, CNL, director of critical care at Iredell Memorial Hospital in Statesville, N.C. Swan has been a nurse for 25 years.


Q. What advice can you give to new nurses making the transition from student to professional nurse?

A. It really is a hard transition, but it’s important for nurses to pursue their dreams and find their passion. It also helps to have a mentor or coach – they are so valuable in the transition because they will give you feedback and pat you on the back. That kind of support is really important.

-Peggy Barksdale MSN, RN, CNS-BC, OCNS-C, and clinical nurse specialist (CNS) at Community Health Network in Indianapolis, Ind. Barksdale has been a nurse for 35 years.


Q. What advice would you give to your younger self, starting out in nursing?

A. When I started out in nursing, I didn’t know how hard the work was going to be, both physically and emotionally. I wouldn’t have done anything differently, but back then I didn’t know how overwhelming it can be as a nurse. Once you’re a nurse, it is not just your job, it is not just your career – it becomes who you are.

-Barbara Edwards, MSN, CMS RN, clinical nurse leader (CNL) at St. Lucie Medical Center in Orlando, Fla. Edwards has been a nurse for 18 years.


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