It’s that time of year when nursing and medical students shed their label (and protection) of student and head out to the workforce with their new licenses. Over at Emergiblog, veteran emergency room nurse Kim McAllister shared advice with new nursing graduates.

Here are her words of wisdom.

To the new nursing classes of 2008:

Your first year will be the most difficult as you acclimate to your new role as a professional nurse. Hang in there! Keep your focus on why you went into nursing to begin with.

Keep your eyes and ears open. Watch the nurses around you. You will be surrounded by role models. Take the best of what you see and incorporate it into your own practice. It may be hard to believe, but by the time the next class enters the profession YOU will be the role model they look up to.

Ask questions. Ask a lot of them. Keep asking “why?” This will keep
you learning every day. I still do it after 30 years. Don’t take
symptoms or lab values or behavior at face value. Find out why.

Don’t let yourself get cynical or burnt out. Don’t work so much that
you are exhausted on your days off. Work what you need to work to get
by – keep overtime to a minimum. Yes, the money is nice but so is your
mental health. Nursing is hard, demanding work. You need your downtime
to recharge.

Speaking of cynical or burnt out, you will work with nurses who
suffer from both. Don’t let their attitude bring you down. (And I
hereby apologize to all those nurses who had to work with me when I was
suffering from both those maladies). You will feel the same on
occasion, but keep in mind that “this, too, shall pass”. It does.

You are professional nurses! Don’t let anyone treat you like a
housemaid, a slave, an underling, or anything other than the educated,
professional people that you are. Don’t accept the status quo. Don’t
accept that things “have always been done this way.” Don’t accept
stupid water bottles with hospital logos on them.

Please, please remember that you practice nursing and not medicine.
The professions are complimentary, not identical. Should a patient
refer to you as “Doctor”, let them know you are a registered nurse. Act
like the consummate professional, and you will find that the doctors
will treat you accordingly. Those who don’t have a problem. You do not.

Tell everyone what you do! Promote the profession! Encourage young
people to consider nursing. Explain the difference between nursing and
medicine to those who are confused.

And finally, there will be days when you leave work exhausted,
emotionally drained and aching from head to toe, wondering “What the
hell was I thinking?”

On those days remember that you made a difference in someone’s life.

Because you are a nurse.

Congratulations to the Nursing Class of 2008! I’m proud to call you colleague.

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8 Responses for “Advice to future nurses: ask questions, be proud”

  1. I agree and appreciate your words of wisdom to the latest class of nursing students. I have been a nurse for nearly ten years and learn something new nearly every day.
    I appreciate your comments about not accepting the status quo and the idea that it must be ok because its always been done that way. Evolution is the key to survival and that applies to health care and the nursing profession. If we don’t challenge the system and our profession then we are letting our patients down and are not respecting our profession.
    We are a more than a minor contributer to health care and we need to step up and demand that level of respect.
    Thank you for your advice.

  2. Ann Guerra,R.N. says:

    Thank you so much for your comments. I’ve been practicing for over 45 years and couldn’t agree with you more on ‘seeing yourself as a professional with an opinion’. Be proud of what you do and who you are. Nurses are a major contributor to health care because we listen to our patients needs and do something about it.
    As a nurse be kind, be patient, be proud,and learn something new everyday.

  3. Ann Guerra,R.N. says:

    Thank you so much for your comments. I’ve been practicing for over 45 years and couldn’t agree with you more on ‘seeing yourself as a professional with an opinion’. Be proud of what you do and who you are. Nurses are a major contributor to health care because we listen to our patients needs and do something about it.
    As a nurse be kind, be patient, be proud,and learn something new everyday.

  4. Ann Guerra,R.N. says:

    Thank you so much for your comments. I’ve been practicing for over 45 years and couldn’t agree with you more on ‘seeing yourself as a professional with an opinion’. Be proud of what you do and who you are. Nurses are a major contributor to health care because we listen to our patients needs and do something about it.
    As a nurse be kind, be patient, be proud,and learn something new everyday.

  5. CHECK THIS 10 min. CLIP OUT re HEALTHCARE in CALIFORNIA: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Isn6OxDTLAI

  6. Christopher L. Holland says:

    As a 55 year old male patient, I have a piece of advice to future nurses:
    really take a total personal evaluation of yourself and search your heart and mind. Search for the answer to this question: Can I treat people of all types, including members of one of the most maligned set of American minorities today, the LGBT community?
    If not, don’t enter the profession. Human beings are human beings and deserve to be treated as such with dignity and at least politeness, as you yourselves would demand to be treated.
    I have been ill for over 15 years and I have seen the level of care for my fellow patients sometimes compromised because of overt hate and misunderstanding.
    These kids (sometimes I’ve met their older counterparts) deserve human kindness and respect. If all you can dig out of yourself is respect for another living human, that’s a start. And don’t think your responsibility ends there, don’t belittle yourself and your profession by walking away from the room/cubicle/recovery area only to have a joke and a laugh with your cohorts, your human patient and the patients nearby have ears. Been there…heard that.
    Call this advice, call it a bit of Health Care Reform it is real and real nurses used to be above “The Enquirer” type mentality. Thank you.

  7. art says:

    thanks for the post and those who gave advices and comments.. its been a year since i graduated nursing and almost 9 months since i became a fully pledge nurse. i have not still been to hospital for work and im currently working in a review center. im under still under contract at my current job but im really excited to work in the hospital.. glad i found this post. there are reallynursing responsibilitiesthat you wont just learn in school

  8. Ashmini M says:

    Thank You!!!! I always though being a nurse needs to study medicine but not that is cleared, a huge weight is lifted of my shoulder. I now have some confident to join the hard working nurses and try to enjoy the Nursing courses. SO thank you

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