Subscribe to our e-newsletter, Nursing Notes:

< Back to Nursing Notes Ask a Nurse

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

March 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 do you think is the hardest part about making the transition from student to professional nurse?

A. Students tend to have what I call the “imposter syndrome” – they’ve done all the work, they’ve passed their NCLEX and they’ve been very successful as students, yet they don’t have 100 percent confidence that they are prepared enough to go into professional practice. It’s important for recent graduates making that transition to maintain their confidence and to remember that they do have the foundation to launch a career.

It’s also important to be proud of your successes – nurses tend to be very hard on themselves when first starting out in their careers. Think of your first year out of school as you’re extended education. You have to be patient, as nursing is about lifelong learning. There’s not a day that goes by where I am not learning something new – that’s the beauty of nursing. Be kind to yourself and recognize your strengths.

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

A. Little things are really important. Confident eye contact, a bright smile and a firm hand shake are some of the first things I always tell students to remember during an interview. When students go to a job interview, I encourage them to look at the agency’s tagline, motto or philosophy, so they can speak clearly about how they would be a good fit under that philosophy. It’s important to do your homework and to always be prepared for any question that the interviewee may ask you.

-Anne L. Derouin, DNP, RN, CPNP, assistant professor at the Duke University School of Nursing in Durham, N.C. Derouin has been a nurse for 30 years.


Q. What do you know now that you wish you knew starting out in nursing school?

A. If I could give myself advice starting out in nursing school, I would say to make the most of every clinical opportunity and always ask questions. The importance of identifying a key nurse mentor is essential and will continue to help guide you throughout your career. Remember to enjoy the learning process. This is an incredibly exciting healthcare field, and you will be challenged and rewarded each and every day.

-Kelly Kirby, MSN, RN, CPNP-PC, PCNS-BC, pediatric nurse practitioner in Pediatric Cardiology at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif. Kirby has been a nurse for 15 years and a nurse practitioner for seven years. 


Q. What advice would you give to young nurses starting out in their careers?

A. Be open to new experiences, and have an open mind for what experiences come along. One of the great things about nursing is that there are so many choices and opportunities – staying open will allow you to take advantage of opportunities as they come your way.

-Anne Pettinger, ARNP, primary care provider at Pediatrics Northwest, PS, in Federal Way, Wash. Pettinger has been a nurse for 30 years.  

^ Back to top