Advice for Nurses: What Nursing School Doesn’t Teach You
This article is going to go over some advice for nurses. These are just pieces of knowledge I’ve picked up over the years.
I’ll update this from time to time based on what I’ve learned. You’ll quickly see much of it is career focused but not all.
Each section stands by itself so after reading a section let me know what you think. The easiest way to move around is to use the table of contents below.
*disclosure: some of the links on this site are affiliate links.
The Power of First Impressions-Why it Matters for your Nursing Career
Have you heard of the saying, “first impressions are everything!”
While you might have heard of it, you might not put a lot of weight in it.
We all like to believe that people won’t come to hasty conclusions about us, without really getting to know us.
We would like to believe that people will form conclusions about who we are based on several interactions with us.
Unfortunately (for most of us) that is not the case, and the power of first impressions can hold a lot more weight than we might think.
According to Business Insider within seconds of meeting someone we have already passed “judgment” on that person.
In general, most of how people receive communication is nonverbal.
While we might not know anything about a person, our perceived interactions with that person based on our own biases can lead us to pass quick judgments.
Judgments that frankly may or may not be accurate and can potentially shape the interactions we have with that person indefinitely.
First Impressions Power and its Effect on your Career
One of the culprits affecting the power of first impressions is a phenomenon termed the “halo effect.”
The halo effect according to dictionary.com, is the risk of an impression which was created in one area, influencing opinion in another area.
For example, this halo effect would be one of the reasons why it’s important to dress professionally for a nursing interview and also to be on time for the interview.
Related: How to Dress for a Nursing Interview
It’s possible that the interviewer could think that you’re competent and qualified for a job even if that’s not the case based on those criteria.
The reverse could easily be said.
Dressing in an unprofessional manner to an interview could lead the interviewer to think that you’re not qualified for the job even if you were the most qualified person interviewed.
Some of the tips that have been mentioned such as smiling, firm handshake etc.
These are all done to try to shape the first impression.
Even performance reviews can be negatively or positively impacted based on those first impressions that were made.
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Why Creating and Managing your Personal Brand is Important for your Nursing Career
This might seem like it doesn't make sense but stay with me. Think about some of the biggest companies in the world like Google or HP.
It doesn't even have to be a well-known company, it could just be a mom and pop operation.
What are the feelings and emotions that come from it?
When you think about any company and the product, they produce whether we know it or not those companies or products evoke an emotion in us.
Maybe you’re standing in a store aisle about to buy a trash bag.
You’re staring at that generic brand that they advertised as really strong, but had torn on you before and left a big mess on your floor.
You remember how upset you were when you had to clean up that mess.
Maybe it’s another brand that you used a couple weeks ago.
Maybe you’re still amazed that it didn’t tear when you filled it as much as you could and then started sticking old metal hangers in it.
These experiences and the emotions affect your actions/ behavior the next time you’re about to make a purchase.
Those feelings you have a lot of time is dictated by the company.
Their advertisements, their good deeds, the quality of their products, all of those things affect your perception of them.
Companies spend a lot of time, money and resources on controlling those feelings.
Your thoughts about a company, their logo and their product is called “Brand Management.”
Companies that fail to build and manage their brand can struggle especially in environments where consumers have options.
What Does This Have to Do With Anything?
You’re probably wondering what does this have to do with anything nursing related.
It’s amazing to me how very little we can think of our own personal brand at times.
Even though there is a “shortage” of nurses that doesn’t mean that we should burn bridges or come to work with poor attitude, feeling entitled.
Those poor behaviors tarnish your brand and could potentially keep you from getting positions and the paychecks you’re seeking.
As professional nurses, we must build our personal brand and then manage that brand.
We must take heed to avoid activities that negatively impact our brand.
When it comes to putting the right people in the right positions…
This is compounded if you work in a niche of health care.
Even in bigger cities, nurses tend to know other nurses. Interestingly reputation tends to travel with you. For various reasons, nurses tend to move in and out of leadership.
You never know when the nurse that you worked with will be the nurse that is interviewing you for a job or getting a phone call asking about your character.
It would be awesome if we never had a bad day or was never tempted to overreact to someone in a less than flattering manner. I’m not perfect, you’re not perfect...nobody is perfect.
Unfortunately, we’re going to have those unflattering days or moments, but we should continuously strive to be about our brand the way those companies are about theirs.
Ultimately that perception can affect your money.
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9 Effective Tips How to Create a Personal Brand as a Nurse
Above we talked about the importance of personal brand management as a nurse.
To recap…ultimately you’re looking to add value to your career by managing your personal brand!
We have talked about the why let’s now discuss the how. Specifically how to create a personal brand as a nurse.
1. You have to want a good Personal Brand.
First things first....creating your personal brand requires effort. It involves doing things that you don't necessarily want to do.
Along with that, you must behave in a manner that might be contrary to how you really feel especially in “heated” situations.
To create a personal brand for your nursing career, you have to want it!
2. Be Flexible
Healthcare is an ever-changing environment.
Do you remember when electronic health records were spreading and being adopted?
How much pushback was there?
Have you ever seen when a policy or a procedure practice was being changed either because of accrediting organizations (ex. Joint Commission) or new evidence-based practice?
Have you seen people who had to be floated to another unit and how much push back they gave?
Healthcare is forever changing.
How you cope with those endless changes can define your personal brand.
3. Stop whining and complaining
We unfortunately and fortunately, depending on how you look at it, work in an environment that is high stress and short-staffed because of a shortage of nurses.
The plus side is job security! The downside is a very demanding job load.
Nurses who are complaining about every little thing take a difficult situation and make it worse.
Don't get me wrong, your complaints are valid and given the opportunity I can complain with the best of them.
Remember nursing school… if complaining during study groups in nursing school were an Olympic sport, I would get the gold.
But all that complaining didn't get anything accomplished.
Not to mention at times it was a hindrance to my real goal which was to study for an exam.
4. Have a good positive attitude
All things being equal who would you rather work with, someone with a good attitude or someone with a negative attitude?
It goes without saying that we would rather work with someone with a positive attitude.
It's fair to say that we all have our bad days.
Being remembered as the person who had a bad moment is very different than being known as the person who has a history of bad behavior and negative attitude.
5. Know your strengths and weaknesses
Nobody is good at everything. Therefore, it’s very important to figure out what your strengths and weaknesses are.
Leverage your strengths and work on your weaknesses!
6. Ask for help when needed!
If you know what your weaknesses are then there are going to be times when you need to ask for help.
In general, we are afraid to ask for help, thinking that others will think less of us.
According to Scientific American, the opposite is more likely to happen.
People will more likely think better of you for asking for help when you need it.
Your personal brand will be of one who admits they don't know everything instead of someone who is faking it.
Most of us work in situations where people’s lives are in danger and even for those that don’t...if you need the help ask for it... and don’t forget to say Thank You!
7. Be Grateful
Gratitude is a beautiful thing.
According to Harvard Health Publishing research is showing that appreciation can improve relationships.
Not only that it can also improve overall well-being.
Showing gratitude is another way to improve your relationship with others and in return improving your personal brand.
8. Care about what other people think
I know what you're probably thinking, why should I care what other people think?
Comparison can be a dangerous path to follow, especially when it comes to spending money.
But when it comes to your personal brand, you should you care.
The essence of personal brand management is just that, being aware of and controlling what other people think of you!
9 Start Working on it Today
Creating a personal brand is going to take time and requires effort. Start as soon as possible.
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Jumpstart your Nursing Career: 6 Important Tips
If you have been a nurse for a while now then you know that your career can feel stale at times. For some the stress of working can become very great and for others just the simple act of going to work every week can become monotonous.
Don’t fret! I’m here to tell you that there is hope to get through those feelings and jumpstart your nursing career!!
Those feelings of stress and monotony happens to everyone.
Here are six tips to help you push through those feelings and become a more effective nurse.
Jumpstarting your nursing career can be a great way to de-stress your life and also re-motivate you about the work that you do.
As an added bonus it’s a good way to avoid nurse burnout.
1. Take a Vacation/staycation
Most nurse leaders work in a very stressful environment.
Between dealing with patients and their family members, difficult co-workers and doctors, all that stress starts to building up.
That stress eventually leads to nurse burnout.
Nurse burnout leads to poor nurse satisfaction and patient satisfaction and could potentially lead to a desire to leave the nursing profession.
One solution is to try to take vacations whenever the stress builds up.
I’m not even talking about taking an expensive vacation or even leaving your house.
Taking a vacation could be as simple as not being at work for a week.
Being able to get away from the job will allow you to recharge and come back to work re-motivated.
If you want to jumpstart your nursing career you should be networking.
If you are not doing this you should start. Have you ever heard the slogan it’s not what you know but who you know?
Networking is a very important part of building your nurse professional brand.
Nurses can move in and out of management really quick so you never know when that person who you connected with and kept in contact with will end up being in an administrative position.
Keep in mind that it also goes both ways.
Those connections you made and how significant those connections become will depend on how well you have developed your personal brand.
For example, let’s say you wanted to change jobs to another facility.
You find out that Suzie who you have connected with and kept in contact with has been working there for awhile.
If you ask Suzie to give you a reference and submit your name to the hiring manager it gives you an edge versus just applying and hoping someone notices your application.
3. Do some Reflecting
If you want to jumpstart yourself and your nursing career you should probably spend some time reflecting.
This looks differently to every person it might be meditation, prayer or just a state of thoughtfulness.
Either way it is important to reflect on the past.
When you reflect, think about all the good things that happened and then think about what all you did to get those good things to happen.
Also think about the negative things that have happened in the past and what your part might have been in causing those things to happen.
The goal being to increase more of the actions that got the positive consequences and decrease the actions that got the negative responses.
When you are reflecting, also reflect on the future. Where do you want to go?
Where is your destination? What changes do you need to make now to put you on track to get there?
Knowing your destination makes it easier to identify the road you need to get there.
4. Seeking Wise Counsel
This is similar to reflection but I figured it was worth its own heading.
As you go through and reflect it can be very beneficial to seek out the thoughts of others.
As you are reflecting on the past and laying out the groundwork for the future a trusted advisor could give you valuable feedback.
The trusted advisor could be a mentor, friend, spouse, or significant-other. You don’t even have to stop at one, you can have multiple advisors.
The beauty of having multiple advisors is that you get multiple points of view based on different perspectives.
5. Read More
I consider reading as an effective means not only to jumpstart your nursing career but also to improve yourself as well.
I’m not just talking about books, nonfiction vs fiction, etc.
I’m talking about all of it. Reading serves many purposes.
Reading can be a means to de-stress and relax by dissociating yourself from the current world and bringing you into a new world.
It can be a means for self-improvement to learn things you didn’t know and to gain insight from the world around you.
Personally, while I don’t read that many books within a year I do read a lot of blogs, articles, research articles about various topics.
The goal being to further the knowledge I do have about a topic and to gain new insight.
6. Getting a hobby
What do you do when you are not at work?
Do you have something to look forward to when you get home.?
Is it exercise, walking your dog or puzzles? I know nurses who enjoy clipping coupons and they look forward to doing that.
Finding a hobby can be a good way to de-stress after working which keeps your life in perspective!