What I Wish I had Known Then: Nursing Advice to the New Graduate

NursingJuly 05, 2022

While you’re in the middle of your studies, you don’t know what the future holds. That’s why hindsight is 20/20, but it can be pretty blurry when you’re in the middle of things. Jacqueline Albertson, who graduated from Denver College of Nursing (DCN) in 2019 has been working fulltime as a nurse ever since, offers these tips to new nursing grads. 

Keep an open mind about your career path. When you’re in the middle of your nursing education, you might be focused on nailing the concepts and learning the skills. But there are many ways to employ your nursing skills. Do you want to work with kids? The elderly? In a fast or slower-pace environment? It’s hard to know. During clinicals, Albertson recommends keeping an open mind and taking it one step at a time. “I wanted to see what every opportunity had to offer,” she says. Along the way, she figured out she was geared toward critical care. 

Make the most of the simulation labs. Albertson believes the simulation labs helped her comfort level when she started working with real people. “Not only did we use the simulation dolls, but we also practiced on fellow students—for example, for psychiatric simulations,” she says. Everything helped. “I felt better prepared for my career, as well as my capstone project and my clinicals,” she says.  

Self-reflect to determine the right job setting for you. Once you get to the job-hunt phase, how do you handle multiple job offers? It’s not easy to determine the best fit if you have eight job offers on the table. Albertson recommends starting with self-reflection. “I also look at what the mission statement is, what the value statement is, and see if they align with my beliefs,” she says. If the job aligns with your values, then it may be the right fit. 

Figure out how to filter the job offers. When you’re first looking for a job, the number of offers can be overwhelming if you get a lot of them. It’s not easy narrowing them down. Albertson attended job fairs, but she also focused on hospitals she was interested in. She decided that rather than talk to a recruiter, she would rather talk to nurses themselves. She went in search of what she wanted, job shadowing and cold-calling nurse managers to ask if she could shadow for part of a shift to observe everyday nursing practice in that medical setting. 

Stay in touch with your teachers. Finishing your program and transitioning to work doesn’t mean you have to lose touch with your instructors. They can continue to provide valuable mentorship. They want the best for their students, and they’re as excited about your career as you are. Don’t be afraid to ask if they’re willing to mentor you, Albertson says. Her post-college friendships with her instructors have been beneficial. 

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