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You graduated from Nursing School – now what?

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In a previous blog I wrote about having a personal “Board of Directors” and I said it was worth a million dollars.

It is. Every new graduate nurse needs to recruit their own personal Board, and keep one going, throughout their career.

What it is and what it is not

It’s not the same as having a mentor, and it’s not the same as using your friends as a sounding board. You will change mentors over the course of your career, and your friends probably are your own age with similar backgrounds, which is not what you want. A Personal Board of Directors needs to be diverse enough to give you the perspective you need. Ideally, your personal Board will have people with a broad perspective on trends, it will include people who work in areas other the health care, and they will be aware of your goals.

Your life does not just happen.

The basic idea is to conduct your life like it’s a business. In nursing school, the students study patient care to the exclusion of everything else. I personally love nursing as a career, but the single decision that set the financial difference in my life was that of buying a house back in 1983 which we later sold at a dramatic profit. Didn’t learn that in Medical-Surgical Nursing class!


Doesn’t look like much, does it? We bought in 1982 and sold in 1999. It came with 80 acres of land. It was bigger on the inside, and we filled it with love. Nursing school does not prepare you for real estate.

Prior to having kids we seemed to never be short on money; then with two kids we needed to budget. I had my job as an ICU manager for nine years; was it time to move on? How much to spend on a car?  There was nothing in nursing school  that covered how to make these decisions.

Should you use a Ouija Board?

Should you go to grad school? Should you change geographic location to get a better job? These last two decisions seem to be on the mind of every new graduate nowadays since the job market has changed, I think I have been asked this recently by a half dozen young nurses. When you get a nursing job, you will also make decisions about pensions and benefits. As a young person this always seem incongruous, but it has an impact waaaaaay down the road and there comes a time when it is closer and closer.

It’s not like a hospital gown

The answer to all these questions is that there is no single answer. Unlike hospital gowns, one size does not fit all. Once you have joined the procession down the aisle and been handed the diploma, you are ready to lead your life.

Now what?

The answer is, now you go ahead and lead your life.


My wish for your future career? happiness and joy away from work to create balance in your life. If you have kids, I hope they are as wonderful and amazing as mine were!

Who to ask to be on your personal Board

This is not like conducting job interviews. In many cases, you have already been getting advice from your parents, and they should definitely still be on the list of people. If you have a favorite past professor, that would be a good person to ask. If there is an auntie in your family who is a nurse, or any body with a background in nursing, ask them. For me, my “Board” includes

a) three of my siblings,

b) my parents (my dad is always frank and blunt),

c) my two daughters; ( when they were little we used to always take time to explain all financial decisions, then there came a time when we soilicited their input. I still do.)

d) two persons I taught with twenty years ago in Maine;

e) a nursing faculty in Florida who I knew when she was in Maine;

e) another nurse now retired who is also a Methodist Minister;

f) two guys I used to play music with, one of whom is a computer programmer and the other is a school guidance counselor; and

g) two friends from college who are now attorneys.

These are the core. I have other people I sometimes call, such as the widow of a doctor I used to work with thirty years ago.  Along my life, people tell me I am a very good networker. Being able to network with people is something every professional person needs to cultivate. In a past blog I said that nursing school is not just about the grades, it’s about the relationships. That is true in real life.


If you are not familiar with this term, you should be. It was intended to describe a company that puts all it’s IT department on the web. But one variation is to disperse the expertise you rely on, over the internet. You probably already use cloudsourcing. For a new grad nurse, I would define cloudsourcing as  asking cyberspace for the answer to whatever question you face.  When I wrote my book, I cloudsourced some of the editing, by sending sections off to some close friends and asking them what else I needed to include to make the description clear. Last summer I needed to write a report for a Medical School in Kathmandu Nepal, and I cloudsourced it, asking for feedback and editing from a bunch of people in USA. I blitzed through six drafts in three days, the finished product was very professional, and it made the impact I needed it to make. (please note, this was not the same as plagiary!)

You can cloudsource your personal Board. The idea is, they do not have to be people you see in person, they can still give you advice from far away.

One Key to having a Board

Once you have this group lined up, don’t expect them to tell you what to do. Their best role is to help you ask the right questions of yourself, or to help you figure out how you want to accomplish something. Their role is to help you cover all the bases when you are making a major move.

I am sure I will edit this in the next couple of days, but this is a start. I suppose the bottom line for every new grad is, to reach out to those around you, in every direction, and use all the resources out there, even if they do not pay off right away.

and lead your life.

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