Let me preface by reminding you: You, and only you, are responsible for the direction in which your life goes. When it comes to setting goals for yourself, you’re probably already experienced (heck, you’ve made it this far, right?) However, in the world of nursing, you might occasionally find a few “sour lemons” in the bushel that is made up of your elder nurses. These sour lemons will be recognizable. They will say things to you like, “Don’t you think you’re a little young?” and “I could never imagine doing that, it sounds like a nightmare!” and “That’s a goal for later in life, after you’ve ______.” The sour lemons are the buzzkill to your happy, idea-drunk nursing brain. They are the raincloud on your rounding parade. They are the surprise float assignment on Halloween after you stayed up all night working on the unit decorations and coordinating costumes for the staff (or so I’ve heard from a friend.)

In any case, we would like to think these lemons only want what’s best for you, but as a young, impressionable nurse, negativity can easily drown out your motivation. The best advice I can offer a young nurse is to set big goals. Just because you can’t find anybody that’s pioneered the same road you want to, doesn’t mean it isn’t possible. With motivation, determination, and resilience, absolutely anything is possible. No, really, it is. It is possible to work full time and be a full time graduate student. It is possible to obtain a leadership position as a novice. It is possible to start a research project without a PhD, it is possible to pay off debt with a second job, it is possible to land your dream job without ever stepping foot onto a med-surg unit. I know because I did it, I’m not the first and I’m certainly not the last.

There is not just one way to do nursing. The beauty of our vocation is that there are endless opportunities to use your individual talents and strengths. Set big goals for yourself and for the sake of your profession—it’s the thinkers and doers that become the leaders, all of which we can use more of.

Dedicated to my role model and dear friend, “Torres.”



Brennan works in the Texas Medical Center in Houston as an RN Stem Cell Transplant coordinator. She is a certified Nurse Educator, received her MSN from Duke University, and plans to engage in research and education in her future nursing career.

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