[VOICES OF EXPERIENCE] Advice for Nursing Students From the Field

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Some words of experience from men and women who are working nurses in a variety of settings, with myriad skills, perspectives, and levels of education.  Thank you to all of the nurses who have been so forthcoming in sharing their views and experiences !

Be ready to eat, breathe & live for nursing school; even when you are on break. You really need to have a great support system. Your friends and family will have to realize that you won’t be around much because you are studying, preparing for clinicals, etc.
Don’t let all the madness of constantly having your head in the books get to you. Keep yourself focused because this is what you want and the road to get there is not easy. ~Jasmine

Realize that most places are requiring a BSN to get through the door. Also new grads tend to have a harder time finding a place to start as most hospitals do not want to put any money into training new nurses, i.e. using requirements that say 2 -3 years of recent acute care experience. The “recent” part of that means within the last year so, even nurses who have experience but were not working for over a year may tend to have difficulties as well. While it does not happen everywhere, you may run into nurses who still believe that males should not be in nursing. There are also patients who do not like male nurses, think labor and delivery. That being said I have had male patients who really wanted to have a male nurse because they were somewhat embarrassed to discuss some things with female nurses. Watch how much debt you build up just in case it takes a while to get a nursing job, very few creditors have much, if any, sympathy. ~Edward

Congratulations, you have to stay focus, and committed.  Some older nurses will try to discourage you, but if this is what you truly want then go for it. There are some many opportunities once you get over the honeymoon period the sky is the limit. I enjoyed nursing so much that I opened a nursing school and it is wonderful to see my students as colleagues. Good luck ~Mabel

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About Heather Swift

Heather “Swifty” Swift has been Kicking mAss since 1998. At 28 she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer as a recently single mom with two small babies on her hip. After completing treatment with the thought that cancer was in her rear view mirror she worked, locally, as a volunteer for Ithaca Breast Cancer Alliance doing community outreach to be certain that no one faced cancer alone. In 2005, she had a secondary diagnosis of breast cancer and tested positive for the BRCA2 mutation, which only amped up her commitment to creating positive change and to becoming a strong and effective advocate for the young adult cancer community. Now, at age 42, Swifty, her partner, Brian, and her two teenage children work together locally, nationally and internationally to advocate for change. Swifty regularly meets with legislators to work towards tangible change in health care, legislation that addresses the needs of cancer patients, care-partners, and families. She works directly with clinicians, medical/nursing students, youth & college students, cancer support organizations and others to educate them about the special needs of young adults living with a cancer diagnosis. Swifty is passionate about providing support by connecting people living with cancer to resources, to other cancer survivors, and to mobilizing and training individuals and groups to find their inner advocate. Swifty currently works with a number of amazing, hand-selected organizations, which provide her with opportunities to educate, to advocate, and to change the conversation about cancer and to work to bring an end to the disease. A few include: LiveSTRONG, mAss Kickers, Imerman Angels, National Breast Cancer Coalition, Cancer Resource Center of the Finger Lakes, Dusty Showers & The Second Basemen, and Stupid Cancer. Swifty is an oncology nursing student in upstate New York, loves time with her family, paddling sports, and peanut butter. She is a Virgo, but not the really anal-retentive type. Her strange fascination with superheroes makes her popular in geek circles, but it can be endearing. Swifty will be riding a llama across Oregon in July of 2012 and really does believe we can achieve and end to cancer and in world peace. Motto: Never Give Up! Favorite quote: “Our own life has to be our message.” ― Thich Nhat Hanh

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