Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Q&A with an LU Nursing Grad

Recently I was contacted by Emily, a current junior in the nursing program at Liberty. She had a lot of great questions that I remember asking some of the seniors when I was a junior. I’m sharing them here in the hope that they will help other nursing students with similar questions.

Q: What advice do you have for applying to externships?
A: My advice about applying to externships is tailor your resumes and cover letters to each application. Use some of the key words that they use in the job posting in your resume/cover letter. Be concise but show the nurse recruiters why you're the best. I would also recommend using Liberty’s Career Center as a resource. You can electronically send your resume into them for critique and even schedule a mock interview.
Since you are filling out applications now, this will probably apply more to your future applications to new grad jobs, but I would recommend seeking out opportunities to serve (CSER is a great option) that will look good on your resume (esp. those related to nursing). It's rewarding in two ways. First you're serving God, which is the most important, but second, serving without pay is something unique that shows that you want to give back to your community not just be a consumer. Employers want employees with a service mentality because they know that A) it makes them look good B) you get personal satisfaction from helping others, which causes you to C) be a better employee as a result (less burn-out). Some service opportunities I would suggest are volunteer nursing lab worker, Patho/MedSurg tutor, and community nursing educator (I taught a class on drug addiction to women at a local Teen Challenge in my community).
When you are in your interview, be confident. You can look on the Liberty Career Center website for typical questions that interviewers ask and then formulate some responses. Think of a 7 or so nursing or work-related stories that highlight some of your personal qualities that they are seeking (compassion, caring, integrity, critical thinking, ability to work with difficult people, etc.). Once you get to Leadership (NURS 490), you will learn how to write a “critical incident” that highlights your skills and abilities which are exemplified in a particular patient care situation. This seems like a difficult assignment sometimes, but it helps you to go through the process of picking a situation you experienced and then examining it for every area and decision you made that shows that you are a caring, compassionate, hard-working Liberty nursing student who has what it takes to be the best nurse/nurse extern--one that they would love to hire.

Q: Can you tell me about the process of getting into the Adult CCCP?
A: First of all, once you've completed your application, Mrs. Akers, the director of the Adult Critical Care Certificate Program (CCCP), will be speaking with your clinical instructors about you and getting their feedback about your performance in the clinical setting. This is when having established a strong relationship with your clinical faculty really pays off. They will be able to tell her your strengths and weaknesses. (FYI when I was in the running for the program, taking part in the Richmond program was an extra point in the point system for calculating who is selected).
When I applied to the program, I had to submit the last patho of the semester. I didn't realize this at the time, but those who read the pathos submitted in the application really pay attention to these pathos. My understanding is that they look for attention to detail and overall comprehension of the material.
After the preliminary selection is made, a list will be posted in the nursing office of those selected for panel interviews. You will have to sign up for a time slot. I remember everyone (including myself) kinda freaking out about the interviews for the Crit Care program. But remember to take a deep breath and relax.
This is a professional interview so you will want to dress like you are going to a job interview for your first real nursing job. (I think I wore slacks, heels, and a nice blouse). One of the most helpful things I did was go to Mrs. Akers alone and talk with her about the questions I had about the program prior to the interview. She is super sweet and caring and loves talking to students about her passion for critical care nursing.
I don't know if Mrs. Akers and Dr. Kennedy will offer this to your class, but even if you don't make it into the first selection of those in the Crit Care program, there are usually those who don't get a high enough grade in NURS 460 and have to drop out of NURS 465 (which is the CCCP class). If you're put on the waiting list, you can still get in if there's an opening. Also, last year Mrs. Akers and Dr. Kennedy taught an ACLS class for those who were interested and got an A (and maybe even a B) in NURS 460.

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