EP 237: Setting Smart Goals: A Nurse’s Guide to New Year Success

EP 237: Setting Smart Goals: A Nurse’s Guide to New Year Success

Navigating Career Goals in Nursing: From New Grad to Advanced Practice

The journey of a nurse is as diverse and dynamic as the field of healthcare itself. From the moment a new graduate nurse steps onto the unit, to the seasoned professional aiming for advanced roles, each step brings its own set of challenges and rewards. In our latest podcast episode, we delve into the world of nursing careers, offering insights and encouragement for nurses at every stage of their journey.

The First Steps: Embracing Your Role as a New Grad Nurse

Starting out in nursing can be overwhelming. New graduates often find themselves trying to absorb a vast amount of information, adapt to the pace of healthcare settings, and find their footing among seasoned professionals. It’s important for new nurses to recognize that getting comfortable on the unit is a significant achievement in itself. Seeking mentorship, embracing the learning curve, and gradually building confidence are key steps in this initial phase.

Aspiring Towards Leadership

For those looking to move beyond bedside nursing, roles such as charge nurse, nurse educator, and nurse manager present exciting opportunities. Achieving these positions requires not just clinical expertise, but also strong leadership, communication, and organizational skills. We discuss the pathways to these roles and how nurses can prepare themselves for leadership positions, emphasizing the importance of continuous learning and professional development.

The Pursuit of Advanced Education

The field of nursing offers vast opportunities for those willing to advance their education. Whether it’s becoming a Nurse Practitioner (NP) or a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA), advanced degrees open new doors for career growth and specialization. Our episode explores the challenges and rewards of pursuing higher education while balancing work and personal life, providing listeners with practical advice on navigating this ambitious path.

Maintaining Mental and Physical Health

Nurses are no strangers to the pressures and demands of healthcare. The emotional toll of dealing with life-and-death situations, combined with the physical demands of long shifts, can impact even the most resilient professionals. We delve into the importance of mental and physical health, offering strategies for managing stress, building resilience, and maintaining well-being amidst the challenges of nursing.

Resilience: The Heart of Nursing

Perhaps the most vital trait for nurses is resilience. The ability to face adversity, adapt to change, and emerge stronger is crucial in a profession that deals with human suffering and constant challenges. Our episode shares inspiring stories of nurses who have demonstrated incredible resilience, providing listeners with insights into how they can cultivate this quality in their own lives.

The nursing profession is a journey of continuous growth, learning, and adaptation. By setting thoughtful goals, pursuing further education, and prioritizing our health and resilience, nurses can navigate their careers with confidence and purpose. As we support one another in reaching our fullest potential, we not only advance our own careers but also contribute to the betterment of healthcare as a whole.

Full Episode: https://youtu.be/7EqxUF3Zpdk 

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EP 214: How to Land Your First Nursing Job With Benjamin Baker

EP 214: How to Land Your First Nursing Job With Benjamin Baker

EP 214: How to Land Your First Nursing Job With Benjamin Baker

In this episode, we interview Ben Baker, a current ICU travel nurse, and new grad coach, about how to succeed in your first nursing job. We discuss new grad nurses’ challenges, how to thrive in your practice and best practices for resumes and interviews. We also touch on how healthcare facilities can better invest in and retain new nurses and the issue of “nurses eating their young.” Join us for an informative and engaging conversation!

It’s totally normal to feel both excited and nervous about starting your first shift as a Registered Nurse. Take a deep breath and remember you’ve worked hard to get here. To help ease any anxiety, take some time to prepare for success. You’ve got this! Join us for an informative and engaging conversation!

Questions for Our Guest

The questions below are some we’d like to tackle. We often go off-topic, so we don’t expect to hit them all. If you have any ideas, please let us know.

    1. Can you give us a background about yourself and some of the experiences you’ve had throughout your career that bring you here today?
    2. What area(s) do you think new grad nurses struggle with?
    3. How do you cultivate resilience as a new grad – to see your “mess” as a “message”
    4. What are the best tips you can give to nurses getting ready for their interview? 
    5. What are the key things to remember when writing your nursing resume?
    6. How do you stand out as a new grad to get hired?
    7. How do you think healthcare facilities can better invest and retain new nurses coming into the workforce?
    8. How do we cancel the call light on nurses eating their young?


Ending Questions

Before we end the show, we have one last question we like to ask all our guests.

If you had the opportunity to have a Cup of coffee with anybody one last time, who would it be & why? 



Coaching: www.nextlevelnurses.com

To watch the full episode:👇👇




What’s in a Nurse’s Bag?: 6 Must-have Items

What’s in a Nurse’s Bag?: 6 Must-have Items

What’s in a Nurse’s Bag?: 6 Must-have Items

Ever wonder why nurses always carry a big bag with them? Whether a nurse or a nursing student, having a bag full of essentials is part of your everyday life to get through the shift successfully. But what items should be inside a nurse’s bag? 

Having these items ready in our bag is more of a need than a want! Of course, we love accessories, but with them comes practical use.

You’ll never know when an emergency arises, so it’s best to be ready than sorry! Here are the six items we love to keep in our nursing bag. 

1. Trusty stethoscope and blunt-tip scissors

Nurses cannot go without their stethoscopes [1]. Although sometimes they get mistaken for being “the doctor,” – this tool is just part of our daily routine.

Besides, it is always good to have your stethoscope to use on patients during your assessment, checking vital signs, or when your patient’s condition changes.

The blunt-tip scissors come in handy in emergencies when a wound dressing is needed. It helps cut medications or clothes during emergencies.

2. Medical kit for personal use

When studying as a nurse, a headache, tummy ache, or cold can occur anytime. The same goes when you are a nurse on duty. Long shifts can cause fatigue and a few aches and pains in between.

Having a personal pharmacy kit is essential. This kit usually contains vitamins, meds for headaches, some balms for aches and pains, meds for allergies, or anything needed for your shift.

You may also find some lotion, mouthwash, toothpaste, toothbrush, and other hygienic products that you use.


As a student nurse, I avidly collected colored pens for my notes [2]. I always had highlighters, pencils, erasers, liquid markers, etc. My pencil case is always full of them, and it looked like I had a stash of school supplies with me!

I’ve always thought it was just a thing I did, but I found out that my nurse friends did too. So, it is a nurse thing. Besides, these pens come in handy when taking notes or rewriting them in a way that you will understand.

Dry-erase markers are essential when correcting your patient’s information on whiteboards. 

4. Hand sanitizers or disinfectant alcohol

As a student nurse, I habitually carried a hand sanitizer wherever I went. I always prefer cleaning my hands with it even after I have washed them (to be extra clean).

So, even now, I still make sure that I have that in my bag. It is always a must to clean your hands before and after dealing with patients to minimize contact with germs, bacteria, or viruses.

5. Water bottles, candies, or snacks 

As a nurse, we are always on the go. Sometimes we forget to eat on time. Having snacks or candies in your bag can help spike your sugar levels when you are feeling low.

Of course, don’t forget your water bottle. HYDRATE. It is essential to hydrate at all times!

Our job needs our whole life force, so we must also care for ourselves. Having these in your bag will come in handy! 

6. Miscellaneous items

These could be your wallet, phone, car keys, extra socks (if needed), cologne, wet wipes, facial tissues, an iPad for your study notes, and many others. 

Now You Know What’s in a Nurse’s Bag! 

You see, we are prepared for anything! Our patients’ lives and the people around us matter. Having all these essentials with us helps deliver quality care to those in need.

Whether in a hospital setting or not, our hearts are ready to serve! 

Looking for more student resources? Check out these helpful links!


6 Qualities of a Good Nursing Student

6 Qualities of a Good Nursing Student

6 Qualities of a Good Nursing Student

To become a successful nurse in the real world, the qualities of a good nursing student must begin early. These qualities must be second nature to you as well as these can help determine your success in your career as a nurse. So what are these qualities? Read on for more. 


Must-have Nursing Student Qualities


1. Must be Goal-Oriented

As a nursing student, you must have goals in mind and drive to meet those goals. Successful nursing students must set goals for themselves.

Your goals could be anything; it could be your desire to find a career in the nursing world that suits your skills or simply wanting to make a positive impact in the lives of your patients.

As a nursing student, you must understand that setting goals will determine how you reach them. 

2. Must be Organized

During your time in nursing school, you will face all kinds of activities and things to do. Managing time is a must-have skill for nursing students.

Being able to manage time is a must-have skill for any nursing student. This way, burnout is avoided, and you have time to relax and study. Keeping a handy planner with you will help you organize the activities on your end and stay in tune with the load of schoolwork. 

3. Must Have a Caring Nature

As a nursing student, you must be someone who is caring by nature. You did decide to become a nurse, so it is a given that you have a caring and empathetic personality.

Being compassionate and sensitive are two crucial requirements nursing students need when caring for people dealing with medical issues. You should know how to comfort others, especially when you are dealing with upset or scared patients.

This quality will also help you handle patients’ families and make it easier for you to lead a long-term career in the future. 

4. Must be Emotionally Stable

Living the nursing student life is stressful. You will be facing challenges every day, not to mention the exams, hospital duties, and many others.

That said, nursing students must be able to handle their emotions when under extreme stress.

Keep in mind that you will also deal with patients who are coping with fatal conditions. Being emotionally stable can get you through all that [1].

5. Must be Able to Communicate Well

Your communication skills matter even if you are only a nursing student [2]. As a nurse, you will talk to many people, and communication is key to successful patient care.

Effective communication makes it possible to give proper care and help patients get back on their feet again. 

6. Must be familiar with the Nursing Code of Ethics

As a nursing student, you must have a good understanding of the nursing code of ethics. You have to respect the dignity of the patient and must be honest at all times.

It is also your duty as a nurse to improve the conditions of the healthcare environment so all patients receive the best care possible. And so, while you are still in nursing school, it is crucial that you understand the nursing code of ethics for you to provide proper care for all of your patients in the future.

Owning this quality is just important as having the others. 

To complete your nursing degree, you must possess the qualities of a good nursing student. Owning these characteristics will make nursing student life more manageable, help you choose the nursing specialty you like, and turn you into an excellent professional nurse in the future!

Looking for more student resources? Check out these helpful links!

How Does it Feel to Take the NCLEX

How Does it Feel to Take the NCLEX

Our Personal NCLEX Experience

To become an official nurse, one must take the NCLEX exams and obtain their license. Here’s our own experience as we went through the process. 

Education and Background

We did our prerequisites at a community college for two years and then attended a university for another two years to receive our Bachelor of Science in Nursing, BSN. Many of you will be coming from a BSN program, but some of you will come from an and, or even overseas. 

But it doesn’t matter where you’re coming from or what degree you have. The NCLEX exam will still be the same. You don’t automatically become a nurse by graduating from nursing school. The NCLEX is your final step.

Many people pass nursing school and get stuck on the NCLEX, and that’s okay. You can make multiple attempts, and you’ll succeed if you work hard and focus. There are also people that pass on their first attempt with a minimal amount of questions.

The key takeaway is to get it done and pass. 

How We Felt About the NCLEX

In the beginning, we felt the same way as everyone else: stressed! Once you graduate, you realize that it’s time to study for and pass the biggest and most important exam of your life. Everyone is nervous!

The best way to calm your nerves is to slowly ease yourself into it. Look up some free Qbanks online to familiarize yourself with the format. Remember, it’s just an exam. It isn’t going to eat you up. 

Before you dive deep into studying, make sure you’re having fun in your free time. This will provide an escape from studying and thinking about the NCLEX. You have to be able to relax to pass the exam.

Some nurses have struggled to pass the NCLEX because all they did was study and didn’t take time off for themselves. Learn what helps you relax. 

Here are a few things you can do to relax:

  • Work out
  • Go to a sauna/steam room
  • Meditate
  • Do yoga
  • Make a change in your environment
  • Enjoy free time

Whatever helps you reduce your stress as your NCLEX date approaches is good preparation. You’ll feel more confident and be more likely to pass.

Driving to the test center is not hard mentally, but once you finally walk in and sit down, your cortisol starts to increase. Remember to stay calm and understand that you’ve taken multiple practice exams almost identical to the one you’ll be taking.

In general, we felt confident and both passed the NCLEX on our first attempt. 


Once you’ve completed the exam, you must wait a few days to get your results. Those days will be some of the longest in your life. We were nervous during those days as well, but once you get your results, you feel a giant sense of relief.

Finally, you can practice nursing! If you didn’t pass on your first attempt, that’s okay. You’ll get there. 

Didn’t Pass the NCLEX?

We know tons of nurses that had to retake the exam, and they’re some of the best nurses we’ve ever seen. If you didn’t pass, it’s time to take a week’s break and then repeat the process with extra effort.

You may need to devote more time to it or use multiple studying methods such as Qbank and audio formats or even reading. Don’t get discouraged. Study harder and smarter, and you’ll pass.

Overall, the NCLEX is a hard exam, and studying for it is not easy. Studying takes a lot of time. But it’s something you have to do.

When it comes to stressing about the NCLEX, realize that it’s normal. You need to devote not only time to studying but for yourself as well. This will keep you motivated and prevent you from burning out.

Looking for more student resources? Check out these helpful links!

How to Study for the NCLEX

How to Study for the NCLEX

Studying for the NCLEX

Your goal should be to take the NCLEX as soon as possible after graduation and pass on the first attempt. Avoid adding to your stress by not passing on your first attempt.

Study hard and efficiently, and aim to take the NCLEX 1-2 months from your 1st study day and within 3 months of graduation. 

How to Prepare for the NCLEX

When it comes to taking the test, you don’t want to take it too early because you need time to prepare. And you don’t want to take it too late, because you may lose some knowledge or stress yourself more than needed.

Familiarize yourself with the test

Look at some testing question examples online to familiarize yourself with the test format and learn strategies to approach the questions. Look back at your prior exams or try to remember how they were worded.

These are the type of questions you might see:

  • Select all that apply
  • Fill in the blank
  • Drag and drop
  • Landmarking
  • Auditory sound recognition

Where will you be studying?

Find a place to study, ideally a place that won’t have many distractions. (We prefer the library.) This way, you can separate your personal life from your study life. You go to the library for one specific reason: to study.

Once you leave, you’re done studying. Treat it as if it’s your office and your 9-5 job. Other great places to study include:

  • School
  • Laboratory
  • Study room
  • Coffee shop
  • Outdoors
  • Anywhere with a quiet environment

NCLEX Study Schedule

Create a schedule that reinforces your studying habits. For the next 1-3 months, your time will revolve around studying. Aim for 3-4 hrs a day. If you can manage more, even better. Studying for 4 hrs a day gives you 120 hrs of studying a month.

To give you a little perspective if you think that’s a lot of studying: the average human life is a little over 700,000 hrs, and a typical workweek is 40+ hours. You need to determine what schedule works best for you.

Will you be going for 4 hours straight or in increments? Most people study for 1 – 1.5 hrs, then take a 30-minute break.

Study Materials

Your study materials will depend on your learning style. What worked for you in nursing school? Did you prefer auditory learning to visual? Did you learn more from the lecture or straight off the PowerPoint?

Here are a few methods you can use when studying for the NCLEX:

  • Flashcards: You can take them anywhere. Separate the ones you know and the ones you get wrong, and focus more on the ones you get wrong. These are great for labs and meds.
  • Sticky notes: Use these as another way to go over the things you struggle with. Write down what you keep getting wrong and post them on your bedroom mirror or a place you commonly stay in.
  • Notebook: Write down key topics and rationales. Separate them into categories so you aren’t looking all over the place. Being organized is key. A notebook is great because you can quickly look back on rationales, key points, and information as a quick reference. Another benefit is you’re writing what you’re learning, which is another study trick that improves memorization.
  • Qbanks: This is the best studying method. Uworld is a great way to study. It asks you NCLEX style questions, gives you exams, and also offers rationales. You can create quizzes based on the topics you struggle with, so you can just focus on those. UWorld breaks down your exams based on the topic percentages of the NCLEX. It even separates the questions you got wrong from the ones you answered correctly.

Studying for the NCLEX is no easy task. You need to prepare properly because this will be one of the most important exams you’ll ever take. The NCLEX is not something to treat lightly.

Studying begins days after graduation, and you’ll need to devote at least 3 months to it.

The best way to prepare for the NCLEX is to familiarize yourself with NCLEX-style questions, create a study schedule, and pick a place to study and a study method.

The best way to study is by using a Qbank such as Uworld. But it’s not one-size-fits-all. You might have to use other methods as well.

Looking for more student resources? Check out these helpful links!