Elizabeth Rochin, PhD, RN, NE-BC
Vice President of Nursing, AWHONN
After long days or nights, and years into a career, we as nurses may forget what initially brought us into nursing. If you want to remember, simply ask a student. In fact, I had the opportunity to ask fourteen nursing students just today why they chose nursing as a career path.
Here is a sampling of what they said:
- “I wanted to make a difference in someone’s life.”
- “There is nothing more pure than helping someone in need.”
- “I knew since I was three years old that I wanted to be a nurse. I think I inherited it, my mom and grandmother are nurses.”
- “This is my second degree. I discovered in myself a very strong need to help others, and went back to school. This was the right decision.”
- “I was originally in sales and marketing, and realized that I loved making connections and promoting relationships. This was the perfect way to do both.”
- “The first time a patient said, ‘You’ll make a great nurse,’ I knew I made the right decision.”
- “I can’t imagine doing anything else. This is the perfect way to give back.”
- “To use my hands to help heal a patient, or help to bring a new life into the world, I can’t think of anything better.”
Most of us will remember thinking about one or more of the quotes above, and will bring us back to our own days as a student nurse, and renew the passion in our work.
For the next several weeks, colleges and universities throughout the nation will graduate the newest members of women’s health, obstetric and neonatal nurses. We congratulate and welcome you to your new lives and careers. Nursing offers such diversity in career paths, and the opportunities for expert bedside care, advanced practice and nursing leadership roles have never been greater. There has never been a more exciting time to be a nurse!
But it is also important that we understand and remember that at one time or another, we were all new. None of us came into nursing knowing everything. We all needed a hand to hold us steady, and a guide to offer direction and counsel in how to move from a new graduate to a team member who could safely and effectively care for patients and their families.
Occasionally we forget what it felt like to be new. And we must be willing to remember. The greatest gifts we can bestow upon our newest nurses are understanding, time and expertise. We must commit to assisting our new graduates to grow and develop, and assist them to make the difference they want to and know they can make.
I would like to take this moment to thank all of our outstanding preceptors who strive to give our new graduates (and all new nurses, for that matter!) the best possible experiences and learning opportunities. Preceptors are those nursing team members who work with a new nurse for 12-20 weeks, and sometimes much longer, to ensure appropriate training and competence. Preceptors are the “life blood” of nursing, and your effort and dedication to your orientees and organizations does not go unnoticed. Thank you for taking on this vital role and for shaping the next generation of women’s, obstetrics, and neonatal nurses.
Liz has over 25 years of Women’s and Children’s experience and has devoted her professional career to the care of women and children with roles as a staff nurse, nursing educator and most recently executive leadership. She has presented nationally on patient experience and mentoring new nursing leaders. In 2008, Liz was named to the Great 100 Nurses of North Carolina, and is a member of Sigma Theta Tau. In addition to her clinical work and expertise, Liz has taught at the baccalaureate and graduate levels at East Carolina University College of Nursing. She is board certified as a Nurse Executive by the American Nurses Credentialing Center.