nursing alumni Zach Ward

Zach Ward was a Nursing student at NHCC, who just graduated in the Spring of 2021. Most impressively, Zach already has a job lined up too! (As long as he passes the NCLEX exam, which he plans to!) He got hired at the same hospital he did his clinicals at and starts on the 26th of June. Zach will be working on a Cardiac Step Down. “That’s between a typical Med Search floor and an ICU.” He describes working in the cardiac field as this, ‘Your heart is basically a pump. So, if your pump has a hard time doing certain things, or it pumps wrong, people come to us.’ A new job isn’t the only exciting thing happening in Zach’s life either! This fall, he is enrolled to finish his bachelor’s degree in nursing at Mankato State University. By the end of next summer, he should be done! However, he says, ‘More than likely down the road, I might do a Doctorate of Nursing. But I want to get some experience under my belt and figure out what type of nursing I want to do first.’

Zach has so much advice for prospective nursing students and insight on his time at NHCC that we had to break this blog post into two parts! Today we’re sharing Q&A Part II, where Zach fills prospective students in on everything they need to know about studying nursing!

What advice do you have for a prospective nursing student?

The biggest thing I can say is, take things in stride and look at the big picture. If you're going to go back to school, recognize why you're doing what you're doing. Because, sometimes it can get really easy to get caught up in, ‘This is a dumb assignment and this isn't worth my time.’ Welcome to school! Sometimes you have to do things you don't want to, but that's the whole point, to show that you actually can do it. It does seem overwhelming, especially that first semester, but I think it's important to recognize how much work the professors have put into setting you up to be successful. They do a lot in that first semester to hold your hand. They give you an entire syllabus, they give you a schedule, a calendar, they give you all these things so that you can have it laid out. I think people take that for granted sometimes, because it could be a lot more intense.

How can nurses stand out and what makes people want to hire them?

I think the biggest thing is your personality. Managers know you're not going to have a ton of skills walking in. You’re a new grad, the whole point is to learn. But, can you be a team player? Can you take criticism without taking it personal? Can you advocate for both yourself and your patient? It's about you and your personality and if you're a good fit for their team; but it's also important for you to recognize if the team is a good fit for you. It's important for people to recognize that as a nurse you are the commodity. Everyone needs nurses. Don't ever forget that. Don't forget your worth when you're going into the job market. At the end of the day, if you don't have a team that you feel supported in, you're going to dread going to work every day.

Any last-minute tips for potential nursing students?

Really think about nursing before you start the program. Ask yourself why you're going into it. Nursing is very altruistic. You are putting other people before yourself and you have to recognize that. It's more than just a label and you're always more than just a nurse. Also, don’t waste your clinical time. It's more than just getting practice in. It's also time for you to network, see what’s out there and see what opportunities you might have. I made sure it was known on my unit that I wanted to get a job. I say, go out and really impress your nursing manager, because that's the one who hires you. At one point, when you’re going into your third semester, you realize everyone's going to graduate at the same time. You're all going to have the same credentials and everyone passes same test. So how do you stick out, versus the hundreds of other people that are graduating at the same time? Take initiative sooner than later. I got my job lined up in early April, so it wasn’t too early. My advice, once you're in your last semester, start applying.

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