One Year Later: My First Year in Nursing

Community, Education, General, Our People

Editor’s Note: Marquina recently graduated from Independence Plus, Inc.’s Home Nursing Residency, a year-long employment opportunity for RNs/LPNs with less than one year of experience. We are enormously proud of the nurse she has become—and she’s only just begun her nursing career!

Our Nurse Residents take part in an intensive four-week training and education program, followed by working full-time for 12 months with our medically complex, ventilator-dependent adult and pediatric patients at home. The Residency’s next cohort begins Monday, November 28. If you are interested, visit and apply for one of our new graduate RN/LPN opportunities. Candidates may also email our recruiting team at for additional information.

IPI Nurse Marquina Watts, MSN, RN, CNL, with her patient, José Solorzano.

IPI Nurse Marquina Watts, MSN, RN, CNL, with her patient, José Solorzano.

This blog post was written by Marquina Watts, MSN, RN, CNL, who is a Nurse at Independence Plus.

October 14th marked the first anniversary of me working as a Registered Nurse. Time has surely flown by and I can definitely say that I made the right career choice. When asked “do you like it?” I instantly smile, nod my head, and then I tell them, “I love it!” My first year as an RN has been eventful, emotional, and satisfying. I provided care for patients that passed away—expected and unexpected—and each death affected me in different ways. After one patient’s death, I was so devastated that I considered shifting paths in nursing. No longer wanting to build close relationships with patients, I solely wanted to provide care from a distance—health fairs, forums, and increased participation in health care reform. However, being personable and relationship-building is the reason why I wanted to become a nurse in the first place.

The healthcare field is one of continuous learning. In addition to learning how to deal with death, here are some other things that I discovered in my first year as a Registered Nurse:

  1. I actually do utilize the stuff I learned in nursing school. I used to hear constantly about the differences between “textbook” nursing and “real life” nursing; however, I incorporate my “textbook” knowledge when I provide “real life” care. Yes, some patients vary in the way they present in their disease process, but it is not far-fetched from what I have learned. I am still able to utilize my critical thinking skills (learned in school) and adapt them to each situation.
  1. I have to seek knowledge on my own. In nursing school, it was imperative to research topics pertaining to the assignment. Now that I do not have required assignments, I have to take the initiative to read and stay abreast on medications, diagnoses, and recent evidence-based practices. Being a member of the American Nurses Association, subscribing to journals, and constantly conversing with colleagues help me remain abreast on the trends in healthcare. 
  1. I can be a leader in my first year of nursing. Just because I’m a novice does not mean that others cannot learn from me. As a Graduate-level Prepared RN, I have a lot to offer. My leadership skills provided me with the opportunity to coordinate monthly educational sessions for nurses and have a role as a clinical contributor to my company’s blog. Leadership has many facets and can be exemplified in ways beyond years of experience. I was humbled to learn that my peers view me as a leader by my eagerness for knowledge; my drive and perseverance; and my passion to provide the best care for everyone. The best way to lead is by example.
  1. EVERY single experience and interaction is an opportunity for positive self-growth—professionally and personally.
  1. Although I am aware that I do not know everything, I certainly know a lot. This year I have learned that I am quite knowledgeable. At times, I surprise myself when I thoroughly answer questions about a disease process or medication.
  1. I must make the money not let it make me. Happiness is important to me and that includes enjoying my personal time. Initially, I would work close to 60 hours a week and on my days off, I would sleep. I was missing out on my life and being around my loved ones.  It was during that time that I realized that I have the rest of my life to make money. Time is a valuable asset that you can never get back! I am extremely grateful to have recognized this so early in my career. Besides, being too tired or burnt out reduces your A-game for your patient(s) and is unsafe!
  1. No matter the environment, I must remain professional. Although the home environment is more relaxed and laid back than a hospital setting, it is my obligation to ensure that the care I provide is in alignment with the Model of Professional Nursing Practice Regulation. Life-threatening emergencies can occur in the home and my patients trust me with their lives. I need to be prepared for anything at ALL times! Complacency with a patient’s status is never an option…EVER!
  1. I must be confident in my practice. Being a novice Graduate-level Prepared RN is no crystal stair and being in the home solo can be scary. I have learned to give myself a confidence-boosting pep talk: “I am a Rush graduate! I have learned the necessary skills to think critically in order to provide great care! Most importantly, I passed the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN)! I am a professional Registered Nurse! I am competent!
  1. I am my patient’s keeper. When I think of nursing, I think of 3 things: advocacy, safety, and quality. Being my patient’s keeper requires me to be knowledgeable, respectfully inquisitive, mindful, and a woman of integrity! I love when my patients complain about me being “too thorough.”

One year down, a lifetime to go! I LOVE BEING A NURSE! What’s most exciting about being a novice is that I still have so much to learn and so many opportunities for my potential to be maximized! Definitely looking forward to my journey in nursing. The possibilities are endless! One thing I know for sure: I am going to evolve into a great nurse and make a huge impact in the nursing profession and the field of health care that will positively affect humankind! It will not be easy, but it will get done!



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