Carlisa Morris, BSN, RN, graduated from Chamberlain College of Nursing’s Jacksonville campus in March 2012. While at Chamberlain, Morris worked as a peer tutor at the Center for Academic Success. She is now employed as a registered nurse on a chest pain observation unit at Baptist Hospital in Jacksonville.
What first sparked your interest in nursing?
I’ve wanted to be a nurse ever since I was a little girl. I’ve always been a people person, and I wanted to help people. My grandmother who raised me was a very nurturing person and that rubbed off on me.
What advice would you give to new nursing students at Chamberlain?
I would encourage students to volunteer and network while in school. At Chamberlain, I volunteered everywhere and met many different people, including nurse managers. I always stayed active, and I noticed when I got hired at Baptist that involvement was key for them.
Volunteer and get your face known, let people see you and learn your name. Get out there, start talking to people and don’t be timid. Seize every opportunity.
What was your biggest challenge in nursing school, and how did you overcome it?
As a single mother, learning to manage my time in nursing school was my biggest challenge. I needed a schedule that would allow me to devote time to my kids and to school.
I sat down and evaluated how much study time I needed each day to be successful. I put myself on a schedule, I got a planner and I did a paper in my first class on time management skills. I sacrificed, including on Saturdays and Sundays.
How early did you begin preparing for the NCLEX? What resources would you recommend?
I felt like I prepared for the NCLEX the whole time that I was in nursing school. I was a very good notekeeper— I typed everything and I never got rid of anything. I would add to notes from previous classes or combine notes if we discussed the same topic more in-depth in a later class.
Before your last semester, you need to get on a schedule of answering questions every day. Don’t wait until the last minute. I used a number of books in the CAS— I lived in there. You need to go into CAS and see what works best for you—whether it’s a study group, a peer tutor or another resource. Everything about CAS, if you really use the resources, was awesome.
How soon after graduation did you find a job? How did you approach the job search?
I had a job immediately after graduation because I was working as an LPN at a nursing home. Once I took my boards, they transitioned me over. About 4 to 5 months after graduation, I got the job at Baptist.
My job search was mainly through word of mouth, talking to people and getting online to see what was open. At Chamberlain, we started early with resume building and research in our courses, and I would ask around during clinicals about open positions. It’s important to research the facility and the area of nursing that you want to go into.
What advice do you have for a new nurse starting in her first position?
You will need to learn the policies and get to know the people you work with. The transition can be a little stressful. I would tell new nurses to stay open-minded, don’t give up and don’t take things personally. Be as confident as you know how. Don’t second guess yourself and if you don’t know, then ask. There’s no dumb question, it’s better to ask than not know. Be optimistic, jump in, and don’t be timid. People don’t take you very seriously if you’re timid. Exude confidence even if you’re not, and always smile when going into every patient’s room.
Where do you see your nursing career going?
I’m interested in continuing my education to become a nurse practitioner, a teacher, or a forensics nurse. I love bedside nursing, but there’s more that I can give, not only to patients, but to students and to myself. I’m trying to go back to school by June. I don’t want to stay out of school too long and get out of that mode.
Any parting words of wisdom for our nursing students?
Encourage and reassure yourself that you can do this, you just need to stay focused and disciplined. Discipline is key.
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