So, Why Do You Want To Be A Nurse?

It’s the most common question any nursing major will receive during the interview process, whether for school or for co-op positions. “Why do you want to be a nurse” is ubiquitous, and with good reason. Your answer says a lot about you and your motivations, not to mention where your passion lies. I’ve heard many variations on a theme in the answers to this question, ranging from sincere to predictable and fake. Here are the two best ways to answer this question if you find yourself without a “classic” response!

1.       The Heartfelt Approach

If you became a nurse because of a personal experience, this answer is for you! For example, if you spent time in the hospital when you were young due to your own illness or a relative’s, and that’s where you discovered your passion, your answer will come across as genuine and give the interviewer a great idea of who you are. But beware! This way of answering can backfire if you stretch too hard to make a connection. If you didn’t have an epiphany in the midst of a medical crisis, please don’t try to make one up. You will just come across as phony, and nurses can spot an exaggerated story a mile away.

Example: “When I was twelve, my best friend John was diagnosed with cancer. I visited him every day in the hospital and found myself fascinated by how the nurses cared for him. They saw him more than the doctors did and always took the time to make sure he was doing OK. I knew then that I wanted to be a nurse someday so I could help people the way my friend was helped.”

2.       The Realistic Approach

Let’s face it, there are many benefits to nursing that have nothing to do with patient care. There’s the flexible scheduling, the many varied career paths and specialties, not to mention the job security. So if you became a nursing major for any of those reasons, good for you! These are perfectly valid reasons for entering the nursing profession. The problem, however, is that flat-out stating this in an interview makes you come across as caring only for the money, not the patients. Many interviewers see nursing as a lifelong passion, not “just a job,” so if the realistic approach is not taken tactfully, this answer could set a sour tone for the interview. One way to prevent this is to explain your evolving passion for nursing alongside your practical thinking, proving that you are pragmatic about your future career, but also have a passion for it.

Example: “I first applied to nursing school because I liked the flexibility involved in the profession and the job availability in my area. But now that I have been in nursing classes, I realize how much I love nursing in addition to all of the practical benefits it provides. I am excited about my career choice and couldn’t imagine myself doing anything else!”

My story mixes the two, and I’ve found that my answer works because it feels real. I always had a passion for science and taking care of others from a young age. I also really loved working with kids in summer camps and after school plays. When high school started and I began thinking about my career and college, nursing jumped out at me. When I volunteered at my local hospital, it all clicked for me. I loved making people feel better, and to me, the nurses were superheroes. The same spirit of discovery that I loved about science is at the heart of nursing as a profession. Being a pediatric nurse means caring for the whole family, not just the patient, and that appealed to me. I applied to NU Nursing and never looked back because I knew I had made the right choice and found my life’s passion.

No matter what your reasons are for entering nursing, just know that this one question does not define who you are or who you will be as a nurse! Whether you decided to be a nurse for the practical benefits or the emotional rewards, what matters most is what you do at the bedside for the patient every day.

Julia Thompson is a second year Nursing major in the Bouve College of Health Sciences. She works as a nursing assistant at South Shore Hospital and is currently on her first co-op at Boston Children’s Hospital. She is the secretary of the Northeastern University Student Nurses’ Association and is also involved with Bouve Fellows. Feel free to contact her at thompson.jul@husky.neu.edu with any questions. You can follow her on LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com/in/juliavthompson) and Twitter (https://twitter.com/juliavthompson).

The Slowdown: How to Maximize Your Downtime at Work

In my work as a clinical assistant, there are times during my twelve hour shift where I cannot sit down due to the amount of work to be done, bustling from patient to patient in an effort to ensure everything gets done well and in a timely manner. But when patients are discharged and the unit activity slows to a crawl, the temptation to take out my phone and browse the Internet to kill time is strong, especially when other colleagues are also taking advantage of downtime to catch up on holiday shopping. But these slow times at work provide co-op students with several unique opportunities and should not be wasted. Here are my top tips to make downtime work to your advantage!

1.       Ask Questions!

In a field like nursing, knowledge is passed down in a generational way, with older nurses often eager to tell younger nurses about their experiences. I’ve found that waiting to ask questions about particular patient diagnoses until the unit is quiet allows for the nurse to give a more in-depth answer. This signals to them that you are interested in their opinions and are receptive to teaching, which could lead to greater opportunities for learning later. For example, a patient was admitted recently with a complicated diagnosis. The unit was bustling, so instead of asking the nurse about the situation while she was busy, I waited until a slower period. She eagerly explained the disease itself and also its treatment. Then, later on, she remembered my interest and asked if I wanted to watch a procedure being done on that patient. Now, she often invites me into the room to watch her work and will explain various aspects of her care to me. I have learned so much that I never would have known if I hadn’t used my downtime to ask questions.

2.       Offer Help!

There is nothing worse than seeing a colleague who has finished his or her work for the day sitting idly at the nurses’ station as you rush by, trying to keep your head above water. If everyone else is busy and you are not, offer your help! Even simple tasks like gathering supplies for a procedure or assisting with a complicated patient can ease the workload of your coworkers- and believe me, they’ll remember it! Helping your colleagues might seem like a no-brainer, but I have seen so many students answer calls for help with “But that’s not what I do” or simply sighing theatrically before giving aid. Don’t let your coworkers get to the point where they are interrupting your Facebook session to ask for your help- just offer it, no strings attached. They’ll be grateful and remember you as a dependable, motivated colleague.

3.       Do Something Extra!

When I first started my current job, I never thought I would end up being my pediatric unit’s resident arts and crafts provider. But early in the fall, my charge nurse asked if anyone wanted to decorate the unit for back to school season. None of the nurses enjoyed decorating and dreaded the task. Since I wasn’t busy, I volunteered for the task, and now I am responsible for adding cute holiday touches to our various decorations. There are owls dressed as elves next to colorful stockings and mittens with names of all our nurses on them. I’ll admit it, I might have gone overboard with the crafting! But now everyone on my unit knows me as the “cute crafts” girl, and visitors are always commenting on the new touches that are added every few weeks. Going above and beyond will always get you noticed, not to mention help you build relationships!

4.       Research, Research, Research!

One of my necessary items at work is paper and a pen for writing down illnesses, procedures, or equipment that I’ve never encountered. Then, during slow periods, I can search each one on Google, jotting down interesting facts or why a certain procedure might be done versus another. I also subscribe to several nursing and medical newsletters, and use the time to catch up on reading them. The information you gather from researching your field will serve you well in the workplace, making you informed and a valued team member. But it will also help you in classes by reinforcing what you are learning, and even adding context to the concepts outlined in class.

Overall, your downtime is a learning experience that should be valued. It is easy to look like a team player when everything is busy, but when things are slow it becomes painfully obvious when someone isn’t contributing their fair share. Raise your own personal bar, and you’ll find that you will get much more satisfaction out of your work! 

Julia Thompson is a second year Nursing major in the Bouve College of Health Sciences. She works as a nursing assistant at South Shore Hospital and is currently on her first co-op at Boston Children’s Hospital. She is the secretary of the Northeastern University Student Nurses’ Association and is also involved with Bouve Fellows. Feel free to contact her at thompson.jul@husky.neu.edu with any questions. You can follow her on LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com/in/juliavthompson) and Twitter (https://twitter.com/juliavthompson).

Getting Out Of Your Own Way

“Note that this journey is uniquely yours, no one else’s. So the path has to be your own. You cannot imitate somebody else’s journey and still be true to yourself. Are you prepared to honor your uniqueness in this way?” — Jon Kabat-Zinn

cutest-baby-animals-1Everyone has that one friend who we perceive has it all figured out. For some people, a path to their dream career is paved — they know what they want to do and how they’re going to get there. For others, like myself, the future is muddled and thoughts are murky; I have to keep reminding myself that’s okay.

When I get overwhelmed by the fear I’m going to work at my supposed-to-be-only-temporary retail job forever, I, first, literally tell myself to “shut up” and then I tear myself away from the anxiety about my seemingly already failed future to focus on the present moment. There are so many articles on Mindfulness (TIME magazine even released a wonderful special issue on it) you can find online, but here are some of my go-to methods for grounding myself.

Invest in the Process

You might need to rework how you frame your goals. My favorite TED talk is “Plug Into Your Hard-Wired Happiness” by Srikumar Rao. In those 18 minutes, Rao bestows upon us the wisdom that it is fulfilling to invest in the process of getting somewhere, rather than focusing on the outcome. The “If-Then” model of “if this happens, then I will be happy” is a failing one because if “this” does not happen, you won’t be happy; however, if you pride yourself on every step you take to reach the outcome (which exists only to serve as a guide), you’ll be content to succeed or fail, seeing the latter as the start of a new path that will take you somewhere unexpected yet rewarding.

Put It Out in the Universe

There’s something to be said for verbalization. Declare your intent to the universe! How else will it know what to send your way? I’ve kept a fortune from a fortune cookie in my wallet for years: “Greet the world every morning with curiosity and hope.” One mantra Northeastern career counselor Sabrina Woods suggested to me is, “I allow for my highest possible good.” You can also develop your own.

Get Over Others 

The only person who has the privilege of living your life is you. So why let anybody else decide whether you’re doing something wrong? Stop comparing yourself to others. Why let other people impact that way you perceive yourself? Don’t allow someone else’s successes to be a measure of your own happiness. In order to find happiness, you must realize that you, yourself, are worthy of happiness.

Even though you might not be where you want to, keep the faith that when you invest in the process, you’ll end up where you’re supposed to be.

 

A graduate of Northeastern with a degree in English, Ashley used to be the News Director and a DJ for WRBB 104.9 FM, the university’s student-run radio station. When she’s not working at Apple, she writes for music blogs and builds her marketing portfolio. Informational interviews, cooking and rock & roll are some of her favorite things. Tell her what you’re listening to via Twitter @amjcbs or connect with her on LinkedIn (http://www.linkedin.com/in/amjcbs).