If you've ever run a marathon, you'll know about the expression "hitting the wall" even if it's never happened to you. "The wall," as it is known, is a point where your body's sugar storage levels drop to a critical point, where continuing feels impossible. Even if you haven't run a marathon, as a nursing student you can relate. You've probably crossed many thresholds of discomfort in your years of study. To you we say, "congratulations, the finish line is in sight." All that hard work and effort has almost paid off as you prepare for the transition from being a student nurse to a professional nurse.
To celebrate your success, we want to share some best practices with you as you venture out into the workforce. As a nursing school graduate, you have many options to consider. In fact, you probably already have, and know where you want to go. These are a few elements you'll want to consider as that finish line comes into view.
- Final Exam Stress
- Landing a Job
- Graduate Nurse Tips
- Get the Right Tools
Networking Today and in the Future...
By this stage of your nursing degree, you will have had the opportunity to meet and talk with various professionals in the nursing field. Networking with professionals in the nursing community gives you the opportunity to ask questions and make connections that might assist you in getting your first job as a nurse. Practical placements are a great way to network with other professionals, as are nursing conferences, expos and through volunteering.
Social media can be a great way to keep in touch with the people you have met along the way. If you haven't already set up some social media accounts,
you should consider at least creating profiles so that when you decide later to use those profiles, you'll already have them set up.
We recommend the basics: Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn. Pinterest is fun, but you won't network there. Better to set up an Instagram account and connect it to your Facebook. LinkedIn is great for networking. Do a Google search on tips for setting up your profile and incorporate as much as you can.
Join 1-3 communities on LinkedIn with good activity levels and schedule time to actively participate.
There is really so much you can do here; you can anticipate another blog from us just on networking. One overarching word of advice: think of social media as a professional party. Everything you say or post is viewed. Don't do anything that you wouldn't do in a room full of your peers and you'll be just fine.
Dealing With Final Exam Stress...
While there can be a lot of pressure to perform well in any exam situation, there is something about those final exams of your degree that can take that pressure up a notch. It's like the finish line is finally in sight and that guy you blazed past in the beginning of the marathon is at your heels. This may be a good time to re-visit some of the points from our previous blogs about getting organised
and best study practices
Just in case you haven't read it, here are the most important things to remember:
Plan your study schedule in advance so you don't have to cram everything in at the last minute. We suggest pulling out a calendar and plotting your schedule to study, with reminders, and the intention to not ignore your reminders.
Ensure you look after your mental and physical health during this time. Exercise, eat well and get enough sleep, your performance will dramatically improve if you take the time to look after yourself. A good plan that you stick to will have down time baked in between your study periods so you don't always feel like there is something you are ignoring. You've planned your work, and you are working your plan. Relax.
Landing a Job...
At some point, you will cross that finish line, soon. Then what? For many graduates, applying to a nursing graduate program through a major hospital is viewed as the way to go. These programs are fantastic, however in recent years we have observed some of the more popular hospital programs become really competitive. The reality is some people will miss out.
For this reason it is wise to expand your options, you might look into regional hospitals, community or aged care nursing, or pursue additional study and qualifications.
It can seem disheartening to get to the end of your degree and find that you don't get that job you wanted, but don't despair. For nurses just starting out any experience is valuable, one of the best things about nursing as a career is the vast range of roles you can transition into. If you have your heart set on being an ED nurse but you don't get a place on the program, don't write off that offer for a community care position. All nursing experience is valuable and you never know how your preferences will change in time, you might discover a passion for an area of nursing that you never dreamed you would enjoy.
To touch on our previous point about networking, never underestimate the value and potential that your professional contacts can provide. Building your social network now would be very wise. Many jobs can be found in LinkedIn. Many employers go there for the very purpose of finding talent. You could be that talent.
Graduate Nurse Tips...
At the end of any marathon, there is bound to be press and interviews. Think now about how you will handle those opportunities. First impressions do matter and while poor interview technique can cost you a job, good interview technique can land you a job. The good news is that great interview technique is a skill that can easily be learned, just Google "interview techniques" and you will be inundated with information to help you excel in interviews. Remember this is not only going to help you with landing a graduate position but with all future positions, so it pays to develop this skill.
Here are some considerations for your interviews:
The interviewer is on your side.
They want YOU to be the one they hire. Conducting interviews is tiresome. The sooner they can find their candidate, the sooner they can stop conducting interviews. It's that simple.
Don't fake it to make it.
Be yourself - this is the hardest advice to swallow, especially considering you want the job, and you want to be liked even if you aren't hired. They have to hire you as you are. Be your best self, but don't be someone else or say things about yourself that aren't true. Nobody will be happy in the long run.
Take any interview advice you get with a grain of salt, even ours. Consider that the person who is giving it to you earned the advice through trial and error, so listen (or read) respectfully, but remember their perspective colours it.
The healthcare industry is constantly evolving and therefore healthcare professionals need to keep themselves up to date and informed about their area of expertise. Some great ways to do this are to subscribe to relevant newsletters, blogs, and journals. Search "Top Nurse Blogs" in Google. Pick three to plan to read them regularly.
Also, attend workshops, professional development sessions, and conferences. Displaying this level of interest and commitment to your practice will also help to ensure your skills and experience remain in demand well into the future.
Invest in quality equipment...
In our first blog, we discussed the benefits of investing in quality medical equipment and medical supplies. These benefits include improved accuracy, for example, the sound quality and range of a Littmann stethoscope
compared to some of the budget stethoscopes. Durability of the equipment is another factor, a quality item like the Welch Allyn DS-66 Sphygmomanometer
has been tested to withstand a drop of 30" and remain in calibration, you will not find this level of durability with the budget options.
Medshop Australia understands that each nurse’s requirements are different and we are proud to support nurses at every stage of their careers.
We are here at the finish line, just as we've been at every marker along the way, cheering for you. We can't wait to see you fly.
Here is a recent photo showing a Medshop staff member presenting a donation of two Littmann Stethoscopes to the Victorian Student Nurses group
as prizes for a trivia night they are hosting on the 14th of September. Visit the link above to find out more.