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Get to Know a Student Nurse: Lisa Novak, student nurse at Villanova University in Villanova, Penn.

Special Student Issue

Novak is slated to graduate in May 2014.

Q. When did you decide to pursue a career in nursing and why?

A. In high school, I knew I wanted to work in healthcare and that I wanted to help people. I’ve always been empathetic to others, showing compassion and comfort to those in need. It gives me a sense of personal satisfaction. Additionally, I’ve always found science and healthcare interesting. After researching various professions, I was inspired by nursing’s approach to patient-centered care, the ability to form nurse-patient relationships, and the emphasis on health promotion and education.

Seeing the impact that nursing role models – such as my grandmother and aunt – can have on their patients, as well as their friends and family, motivated me to look further into the profession. Once I understood the vast opportunities that nursing presented, I knew my next goal in life was to apply to Villanova University to become a nurse.

Q. What have you enjoyed most about your time as a student nurse?

A. Learning about nursing and participating in clinical rounds was an enjoyable part of my experience, but the most exciting part of being a student nurse was joining the Student Nurses’ Association of Pennsylvania at Villanova (SNAP Villanova). Joining the professional nursing organization on my campus opened a wide range of opportunities for me and allowed me to further become involved in the National Student Nurses’ Association (NSNA).

Through my involvement with these organizations, I have had the opportunity to meet wonderful current and future nurse leaders throughout my school community, as well as throughout the country. I have been given the opportunity to learn about other students’ experiences and career goals, opening my eyes to parts of the nursing community I would have otherwise never known about.

One of the most important lessons I have learned as a student nurse is that this profession requires a commitment to lifelong learning. Education is the foundation of being a successful nurse.

Q. What were some of the most important lessons you learned at the NSNA MidYear Conference?

A. I have been attending these conferences for years now, and there are always opportunities to learn something new or to meet a new person. NSNA provides students with many opportunities to network and to grow as future professionals.

This year’s MidYear Conference focused on “Navigating The Journey to Your Future Career.” Not only did I meet wise advisors who gave me guided direction as I look toward graduation, but I also progressed by simply attending the general sessions. The keynote speaker, Sue DeLaune, MN, RN, was particularly helpful, as she spoke on the difficulties that many new graduates encounter and how to best deal with them. Not only did I take away great advice about the fundamental actions I must take in the coming year, but I also came back enlightened about how to care for myself and set myself up for success and happiness.

Q. How will you apply those learnings to school and your future as a nurse?

A. I found MidYear exceptionally helpful in my professional development as a student nurse and as I look toward the future. I came home from Louisville much more prepared for planning my future past graduation. I learned about essential fundamental actions I must take to not only obtain a position as a RN but also how to best select a graduate school.

DeLaune also spoke about laughter being the best medicine, about having confidence and belief in your skills, and about conquering fears. She also read a quote by Winston Churchill – “success is failure after failure without giving up enthusiasm” – which was truly empowering. I will remember her presentation and that quote as I start my nursing career.

Q. What advice can you give to prospective student nurses?

A. Nursing is a challenging but very rewarding profession. It requires dedication to learning and effective communication skills, compassion and strong interpersonal skills. The best advice I can offer to prospective student nurses is to find a mentor and to never be afraid to ask questions. Building a relationship with a mentor who will provide wisdom, advice, enthusiasm and excitement for the profession provides motivation and stability to the experience. If possible, shadow your mentor to gain a better understanding of their opportunities, responsibilities and daily activities as a nurse.

While the academic component of nursing is definitely important, discovering your own unique qualities, leadership skills and values is essential to becoming a successful nurse. Furthermore, asking questions about various programs, clinical opportunities and leadership development opportunities is essential to discovering the right nursing program for you. Reach out to current students and ask about their experiences and recommendations to best understand each program.

The final piece of advice I have is to enjoy the process and to never give up on your dream of becoming a nurse. It is not an easy process, but it is most definitely worth it!

Q. Where do you see yourself 10 years from now in your career?

A. A career goal of mine is to become an acute care nurse practitioner working with cardiac patients. I hope to practice as a nurse practitioner while being active in a professional nursing organization. Professional nursing organizations are essential to the future of nursing and being an active member allows you to meet various nurse leaders and learn from their experiences. I hope to continue discovering all that the profession of nursing has to offer 10 years from now.

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