A Letter to Myself as a New Nurse


This is a letter to my past self as a new graduate. It encompasses the nurse I was and the nurse I could become if I knew then what I know now.

by Chinethia Chinethia (New)

Specializes in Case Management/Care Coordination. Has 26 years experience.

What do you wish you could tell your 'past' self?

A Letter to Myself as a New Nurse

Dear New Nurse Graduate,

Finally, all the studying, early morning clinicals, and test-taking are over. You have officially been invited into a profession that you will probably give more than take. If nursing is truly your calling you will find yourself nurturing all that you encounter. Please be careful. There is a thin line between nurturing and enabling; the later can consume you if you are not careful. Always listen to your gut. If it does not feel right and look right, don’t be afraid of looking like the novice you are- ASK QUESTIONS. If you work nights, there will be days when you arrive home and you will not remember the ride home. You will ask yourself, “How did I make it home alive?” If you are a spiritual person, you know the answer. There will be days that you question if you made the right decision. Welcome to the world of ethics.

Young nurse, there will be many ethical dilemmas

Just remember your ethical principles (Yes, you will use them all throughout your career). Always keep your patients safe from harm and respect THEIR wishes. Keep it simple in a profession of hard knocks. Support your patients and realize that sometimes they feel that you are the only one that cares and understands. Realize that they have a sense of knowing when you are uncertain or nervous. Walk into their presence with authority that you know your job and you have been chosen to live in this moment. YOU GOT THIS.

Offspring, always educate yourself

Never say you cannot afford to go back to school. Take advantage of the tuition assistance program by your employer. USE IT. Know your options, such as deferred billing, payment programs, scholarships, grants, forgiveness loans, financial aid, etc. Educate yourself within the facility. Stay on Med-Surg for at least 2 years. Learn how to interpret labs, learn how to critically think. Obtain advanced hospital certifications early on and don’t be defeated and feel like you are not smarter than your peers. Apply to specialty areas. If you work for a Level 1 trauma center apply to the residency programs for nurse specialty departments. Remember when you chose a vascular residency, and how it opened your eyes to health care in an entire spectrum?

New nurse, create your work-life balance

If you don’t develop this early in your career, you lose star power. You will resent work. Your body will be present, but your mind will be elsewhere. You will be watching the clock and time will move at a snail’s pace. You will share this negative energy in the work environment and ultimately your work and patients will suffer. KNOW YOUR BOUNDARIES. It’s okay to say, “No, I can’t work extra.” Don’t be afraid to fly. If you can, take a travel assignment. See what other nurses in other areas are doing.

Novice, don’t EVER feel less than because some other nurse makes them self feel more than

You are talented, you are worthy, and you are smarter than you give yourself credit. Do not sequester yourself from your team. Continue your journey to personify your profession. Become familiar with your resources. Strive to participate in shared governance and incorporate  this on your mid-year evaluation.  Join committees that will allow you to network yourself such as throughput. Share your ideas, don’t keep them bottled up inside. Do your best to  become a resource so that you can represent the true leader that is evolving. Be more focused on evidenced-based. Do not be afraid to teach your patients the rationale(s) to your interventions. Build on your weaknesses. Don’t allow fear to block your path to success.

Communicate effectively to multidisciplinary teams. Let them know that you are responsible and accountable. Always engage with the patients, and always ask permission is to include the family. Patient-centered and family-centered care is the key for positive outcomes in patient care. Participate in care coordination-your input is VALUED. Remember you are the person working with the patient for hours. Practice at the top of your license. Actively listen and maintain good eye contact.

Lastly, new nurse, know your worth

Know that you are valuable. Know that you are unique. Know that your profession lasted for centuries and will continue to thrive. Know that you are part of a true society of humans that thrive to make others better by selflessly giving of themselves.

But ultimately remember-


William Shakespeare (Hamlet)

Best Wishes,

Your Future Self


William Shakespeare (Hamlet)

Chinethia 'China' Johnson, RN BSN is a nurse that has worked Med-Surg, ED, vascular, Home Health Admissions, Ambulatory, Discharge, ICU, cardiac, occupational health, Recovery Room, Behavioral Health, Trauma and currently Case Management. She is currently in school pursuing her Master's and Doctorate in Nursing. She loves to read, spend time with her 3 children and 2 grandchildren and resides in North Carolina but originally from Savannah, GA

1 Article   1 Post

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

4 Comment(s)


Specializes in Sm Bus Mgmt, Operations, Planning, HR, Coaching. Has 39 years experience.

OH what a great service you have just provided to every new nurse!  I bet you wish you knew these bits of wisdom back then, and here every new nurse has a chance to better themselves from your experience.  Looking back on my life now, if only I would have know then what I know now.....

Thank you for your insight!

spotangel, DNP, RN, NP

Specializes in ED,Tele,Med surg, ADN,outpatient,homecare,LTC,Peds. Has 32 years experience.


Such good reminders for all of us, no matter how long we've been in nursing!