Professional Nursing Tips Part 1: How to Make Nursing a Life Long Career

At, we are dedicated to providing nurses and nursing students with the educational resources you need to succeed. We are proud to share the following tips for nursing success from long time nurse Jerome Stone RN, MA.

My Short Story

I've been a Registered Nurse for 32 years. Over that time period, I've practiced nursing in a variety of different settings and clinical areas. I've practiced in ICU/CVICU, in hospice and palliative care, in pain management, clinical research, and within the pharmaceutical industry. I've even written a book for nurses, drawing on the wisdom and compassion I've gained through my years in the profession.

Over the last three decades, what has kept me engaged and involved in my profession, aside from the personal satisfaction of knowing that I'm helping to alleviate others' suffering, has been that I've always stayed interested in what I'm doing. I'm always learning new things and I remain flexible and open to the multiple possibilities that arise within nursing.

Whether you are a seasoned veteran of the nursing profession or just starting out as a new graduate, there are some key things to know if you want to stay satisfied as a nurse over the long haul. Here are some valuable tips to keep in mind if you want to succeed in nursing each and every day, regardless of your current educational level, practice setting or years of experience.

#1 Maintain a Beginner's Mind

There's a Zen saying, "Zen mind, Beginner's mind."

This means that regardless of how long you've done something, you can always approach it from the perspective of a beginner. Tap into the delight that comes from learning new things with the eagerness of a beginner, and remember that even if you've been at it for a while, you can still learn something new as a seasoned nurse.

Another similar saying is "In a beginner's mind there are many possibilities, in an expert's mind there are few."

This means that you should always be willing to think outside of the box, just as someone who is new to a discipline will often times innovate care processes and generate new ideas that 'old-timers' might have overlooked. Becoming entrenched in the limited beliefs that result from the 'it's always been done this way' attitude, can inhibit quality nursing processes, and goes directly against Evidence Based Practice (EBP) in nursing.

For example:

  • Nurses used to pour honey on open wounds and blast them with heat lamps overnight in decades past, simply because that was what they were told to do.
  • Gloves and needles were once commonly reused between patients.
  • Labor and Delivery patients were once anesthetized and the newborns removed without the aid of the birthing woman, thereby making the process much more difficult than it needed to be.

Were it not for beginners calling outdated, yet widely accepted practices into question, it is possible that many advances in nursing (and healthcare in general) may not have been realized over the years.

Maintaining a sense of newness in everything that you do and being open to learning something new is an essential trait for long term nursing professionals. If it helps you to help others…even if it goes against what you've always done, look into it! Research it and trial it. Bring your ideas to the table if you think they have merit and may improve the care you and your nursing peers provide.

You are capable of changing and improving the lives and health of thousands of patients over the course of your nursing career, especially if you can maintain the openness of a beginner's mind and couple it with your indispensable nursing experience over the years!

To read more tips about how to stay satisfied in nursing over the long haul, check back in at next week for expert nursing advice from Jerome Stone.

If you have your own tips for professional nursing success, feel free to share them in the comments below.