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Helping Graduate Nurses Transition to Practice

By December 3, 2020June 7th, 2023No Comments

On 12/3/2020 on Facebook and YouTube Live, I had an insightful conversation with Samuel Womble BSN, RN, a new nurse and author of the soon-to-be published book, “Preparing for Practice: Surviving and Thriving in Nursing School and Beyond.”

Samuel shared his journey as a nursing student, what he wished he had known before entering nursing school, and principles to help new graduate nurses transition successfully to real-world practice.

He was inspired to write this book because he felt he was not prepared for the realities of practice. His insights are essential for every nurse educator to communicate to students to address reality shock and the struggles new nurses experience.

Some key takeaways:

  • Remembering your “Why” is so important. Whenever you’re having a difficult time, remember and reflect on why you decided to become a nurse to maintain your passion. Write a mission statement to capture your “Why.”
  • Male nursing students are at-risk for failing nursing programs. It’s important to have male representation in the program. Pair male students with male nurses in the field. Male and female nurses may approach comforting a patient differently.
  • Learn the essence of empathy with your patients. Understand your patient’s experience. Know that everyone is in a different place emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and physically, financially, and more. It’s important to see pateints as humans with complex stories.
  • It’s ok to not be perfect as a student or a nurse. Students need to understand that it’s ok to make mistakes and not constantly worry about failing.
  • If you are too proud, you aren’t going to grow. Nurses need to always keep learning.
  • Don’t assume patients will use their resources to get better. It’s not all on the nurse’s shoulders to heal a patient. The patient is also responsible for their healing. Both patients and nurses are on a journey and nurses can’t always take the patient across the finish line.
  • Learning holistic care was a critical part of Samuel’s experience as a student.
  • As a nurse, be respectful of new nurses and be a mentor. New nurses need your support!

From the book “Preparing for Practice: Surviving and Thriving in Nursing School and Beyond”:

  • Habits are the daily battleground of character. The daily decisions that a student or nurse makes are significant. Anything that doesn’t seem like a big deal at the time, if it becomes a habit, it informs practice. Notice what nurses do that you like and don’t like and decide what kind of nurse you want to be.
  • Don’t be above CNA work. Humility is critical in life and nursing. Doing tasks that seem mundane or beneath you are important to working as part of a team. The more people you can have on your side as a nurse, and the more humble you can be, the better your practice will be.

One final takeaway: It’s the spirit of the nurse and how you provide the care that matters. It’s not just doing, but doing with the right spirit. Actions are more important than words and show your compassion. Sometimes seeds blossom, but sometimes a nurse’s job is just to plant or water a seed. We don’t always get to see the long-term effects we have on our patients.

Learn about the book “Preparing for Practice: Surviving and Thriving in Nursing School and Beyond” at Or email Samuel at

Keith Rischer – Ph.D., RN, CCRN, CEN

As a nurse with over 35 years of experience who remained in practice as an educator, I’ve witnessed the gap between how nursing is taught and how it is practiced, and I decided to do something about it! Read more…

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