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Posted 9 months ago
Florence Nightingale’s own experience in patient care extended only from 1852 to 1856 when she was the administrator at Harley Street and during her 22 months in Scutari during the Crimean War. On her return, she was chronically ill and in pain, probably from the lingering effects of brucellosis. However, this did not stop her from being extraordinarily productive. Her long months of ill health provided her with the control and solitude to plan the philosophical foundations and future of nursing. She was concerned both for the profession as a whole as well as the women who were seeking educational opportunities at the Nightingale School at St. Thomas’ Hospital.
If Nightingale were a 21st-century woman, she would witness firsthand the antithetical effects of the nursing shortage in an environment in which new graduates are having difficulty finding employment. Yet, even with diminished work opportunities, it is probable she would urge new nurses to continue to seek employment, which would benefit the profession as well as the nurse. Nightingale might offer the following advice to encourage young nurses to move forward professionally:
Consider positions even if they are not perceived as ideal. The basic lessons of nursing can be learned in any area of specialty. It is more important to establish a positive resume and fundamental professional experience than focus on any specific areas of practice.
Identify a mentor. Finding the way in the professional world is not always an easy or obvious journey. Seeking sage advice from someone who has been there helps to bring perspective and possible alternatives to a situation that may not be apparent to a new graduate.
Be future-oriented. Have an ongoing five-year plan layered with experience and continued formalized education. In a new nurse’s professional lifetime, the master’s degree is likely to be required for increasingly autonomous practice. Be prepared to articulate this plan when asked.
Believe in the profession. Nursing is a lifelong vocation that offers multiple and continuing opportunities to nurses and potentially has implications in creating change for populations. It is the cumulative power of nurses — the power of one plus one plus one — that makes the lasting impact on individual patients, healthcare systems and the profession.
Develop a professional demeanor before, during and after the interview. Professional behavior occurs inside and outside the employment setting. Consider your voice mail message or your Facebook page, which could make the difference in whether a position is offered. Precede an interview by doing your homework about the institution and the unit on which you are seeking a job. Carefully consider your wardrobe. Practice the initial contact with your interviewer. A follow-up thank-you, that is personalized and preferably handwritten, is essential.
Nightingale’s overall approach to problem solving was having extraordinary patience, being exceptionally well prepared and addressing one issue at a time. Most important, she would urge new graduates to believe in themselves — believe in the fact that they have made a career choice for their lifetimes and one of the most difficult experiences they will have as nurses is simply getting started