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

July 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 is the best nursing advice you’ve ever received?

A. There are three pieces of advice that I think are important for nurses. The first is to always put the patient’s best interest first, regardless of the scenario. Second, if you ever have a gut instinct that something is not right, take a minute and stop what you’re doing to figure out why you feel that way. If you just take a minute to figure out why you feel that way, you will be amazed at what you can realize. Listen to that inner voice or that feeling that something is not right. The third thing is to never put yourself in a situation where you’re saying “could have, should have, would have” – if you are saying that, then you probably had an opportunity to make a difference. If you start thinking that, intervene and do whatever you can do to make it right.

Q. How has nursing impacted your life?

A. The number one thing that has impacted my life is the realization that life is a gift. We are not promised tomorrow, and you should live every day to the fullest. Don’t ever leave your house without telling your family that you love them. Don’t ever go to bed upset with a family member. Live, laugh and have a good time. Life is too short, and tomorrow is never promised.

-Steven Neher, APRN, MSN, CEN, CFRN, NREMT-P, flight nurse for the Air Care Team and acting clinical educator at Orlando Health in Orlando, Fla., and president of the Air & Surface Transport Nurses Association. Neher has been a nurse for 15 years.

Q. What advice would you give to nurses considering going into critical care?

A. Critical care nursing is an awesome career opportunity if you love taking care of others, like to make a difference in people’s lives and are willing to put the work in to develop the knowledge, organizational and prioritizing skills. I encourage people to give it a try!

-Karen McQuillan, RN, MS, CNS-BC, CCRN, CNRN, FAAN, a clinical nurse specialist at the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center at the University of Maryland Medical System in Baltimore Md., and president-elect of the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN), the largest nursing specialty organization in the world. McQuillan has been a nurse for 33 years.

A. Great nurses are inquisitive, level headed, passionate and have a great sense of humor. Inquisitive nurses are always looking for answers  a patient’s labs come back abnormal, something about the patient just doesn’t seem “right” or they are taking care of a patient with an unfamiliar diagnosis. These nurses research, delve deeper and try to look for answers in order to give their patients the best care possible.

Great nurses are also level-headed during times of stress and crisis. In critical care, crisis is an everyday occurrence but the level headed nurse stays calm, looks at the whole picture of the situation and gets to work.

A great nurse is also passionate. When you see a nurse passionate about the care they give and the specialty they work in, it shines through everything they do. A passionate nurse provides incredible care to their patients but also inspires those around them to ignite their passion as well.

And finally, a great nurse has a sense of humor. Dealing with life, death, families, doctors and absolutely everything else in between can create incredible stress and burden for nurses. Having a sense of humor makes everything a little more manageable. Student nurses should strive to adopt and enhance these qualities as they progress in their career. Nursing isn’t just about being able to complete a list of tasks; it requires much more than that. 

-Michelle Post, RN, BSN, SCRN at the Neuroscience Intensive Care Unit at Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton, Ohio. Michelle has been a nurse for two years.




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