To the Aspiring Nurse,
I am so glad that you chose nursing as a profession, as it is something I am incredibly passionate about, and something I hold close to my heart. Nursing is a profession that requires teamwork, trust, and compassion. It is a profession that depends on the passage of knowledge from those that have walked the walk, to those that are just beginning theirs. And while I have an entire lifetime of walking left to do, and much more to learn, I’d like to leave you with some guidance and support so that you may come to love and elevate this profession as much as I do.
Nursing isn’t just a profession you chose, it is who you are. My pediatrics professor used to stress this simple, yet fundamental principle upon us. I have always believed that it takes a special kind of person to become a nurse. Having the capacity to put the needs of others before your own is truly something special. Caring for others doesn’t stop after you’ve left the hospital, because it is fundamentally a part of who you are. Embrace these qualities, because these are the same qualities that will make you an incredible nurse. Be proud of who you are and what you bring to the world and to this profession.
Stay humble. Nursing is a profession that allows you to not only make a difference in the lives of others, but also allows you to challenge yourself professionally and intellectually. There will come a time in your career where you feel proficient in your clinical assessment skills and highly knowledgeable in your chosen specialty. With that being said, I have never gotten anywhere in my nursing career without respecting those who have come before me. Throughout this incredible journey, I have been so blessed to have great mentors and role models that have helped me along the way. Whether it was a coworker, preceptor, manager, or team leader – they all have had a profound impact on my personal and professional growth. Understanding that there is never an end to your learning and growing will help you understand your limitations AND help you continually challenge yourself to be the best nurse that you can be. It is also equally important to never forget where you came from - that at one point in your life, you were the nursing student or new graduate. Be a mentor. Lead by example. Love and support those that will eventually look up to you for guidance one day. By continuing this cycle of mentorship, we all have the opportunity to elevate the nursing profession to its highest potential.
Nursing is an art. I have always believed that nursing is an art. It is a delicate balancing act between being skillful and compassionate. A successful nurse knows how to incorporate all these qualities into her practice. They will be knowledgeable, experienced, and skilled, but will also remember to be empathetic, patient, and kind. Seize any and all educational and clinical opportunities to advance your clinical assessment skills. But at the same time, don’t ever forget to also take the opportunity to sit with your ailing patients and learn about who they are and where they come from. People often say that as nurses, we make such a huge difference in our patient's lives. The truth though is that as much as we make a difference, our patient's impact our lives as well, and often in very profound ways. I have learned so much about life, love, and resilience through the eyes of the people that I care for. They help me understand the world in ways that I never thought I could, force me to keep an open mind at all times, and to embrace life with open arms. Remember – gaining knowledge also comes from the moments that we share with those that cross our paths.
To end this open letter, I just wanted to say that I truly believe you have made the right decision. The next few years will challenge you in ways you never thought were possible. Be prepared for sleepless nights, never ending care plans, camaraderie, some tears, lots of hugs, and ultimately, a lifetime of meaningful and rewarding work.
Sandy Chiem, BSN
What words would you share to encourage and support new nurses? Share in the comments section below.
Sandy Chiem, BSN, has been a nurse for 4 years after graduating in 2012. She started her career as a traumatic brain injury rehabilitation nurse and currently works as a neonatal intensive care unit nurse. In addition to her full time nursing career, she does humanitarian work and has been to Guatemala and Zambia, and will be on her way to Haiti next month. She loves what she does and is very proud to honor this profession. If she could go back in time, she would become a nurse all over again. Her letter was written as part of Barco's Nightingales Foundation Letters Campaign.