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

April 2014

Student nurses and new nurses – we invite you 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 can you give to new nurses on how to better maintain a work-life balance? 

A. Nursing is not something that you do. It’s something that you are. It’s something that you become. But no matter how passionate and dedicated you are, you first and foremost need to take care of yourself. We all tend to overextend ourselves in our jobs, but it’s important to find balance in your life – especially in nursing. You can’t save lives every day without first taking care of yourself, and you can’t give your patients the best if you are not at your best.

-Michael Rice, Ph.D., APRN-NP, FAAN, professor and endowed chair of psychiatric nursing at the University of Colorado College of Nursing in Aurora, Colo. Rice has been a nurse for 40 years.

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

A. Always advocate for your patients and for your role; collaborate with other nurses and other mental health professionals; and surround yourself with experts and peers that understand the challenges and rewards of what you do.

It is very important to get involved with your state nursing association and at least one national professional organization. I have learned how to become a better advocate and practitioner from my colleagues at the North Carolina Nurses Association (NCNA) and the International Society of Psychiatric-Mental Nurses (ISPN) – each organization has been very important to my practice and to the health of my patients. I have met some “rock stars” in our profession that change the world daily. Psychiatric mental health nursing will guarantee not only growth in your own life but to those in your care.

-Susan Vebber, BSN, RN, PMH, family psychiatric nurse practitioner at Carolina Behavioral Care in Durham, N.C. Vebber has been a nurse for 27 years.

Q. What do you enjoy most about your nursing career?

A. I can honestly say that as an oncology nurse clinician, educator and researcher, I have never stopped learning. Further, I have never been bored, and I have always believed and have seen evidence that my work has value and meaning. I know that I can make a difference for patients with cancer and their families who are facing difficult situations. I feel privileged to have a career that can offer this.

Q. What is the best nursing advice you have ever received?

A. It’s always important to remember that “this too shall pass.” This advice basically reflects that no matter how stressful or challenging a situation may be, nurses can gain greater perspective by recognizing that the situation will not last forever. Further, this advice also reminds us to be attentive and learn what we can from the opportunities that present themselves because they may not present themselves again. 

-Rebecca Lehto, Ph.D., RN, OCN, assistant professor at Michigan State University College of Nursing in East Lansing, Mich. Lehto has been practicing nursing for 28 years. 

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