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My First Year as a Nurse: Michelle

In the first post of our latest series entitled “My First Year as a Nurse,” Magoosh NCLEX-RN blogger Michelle gives some insight into a first year as a nurse in pediatrics. Enjoy!

Desired Job

From my first day in nursing school, I always knew that I wanted to work in pediatrics since I always enjoyed caring for children. I quickly learned that my dream may not happen immediately because at the time many hospitals required nurses to complete one year in medical surgical nursing before specializing in pediatrics. I applied to several hospitals and interviewed and received offers at a few very quickly. However, only one hospital offered me the opportunity to start in pediatrics. The hospital was a little farther from home, not the safest area and paid a little less, but they had an excellent reputation and offered me my dream job. Of course, I quickly accepted the offer for my first nursing job.

Internship Training Program

I was accepted into the hospital’s pediatric nursing internship program where a small group of new graduates would receive classroom and clinical training in all of the pediatric areas. This opportunity was invaluable and we soon became a very close knit group learning as much as we could under the direction of their pediatric nurse educator and the nurses on the units. We rotated through the general pediatric unit, the pediatric special care unit, the pediatric intensive care unit, the neonatal intensive care unit, the intermediate care nursery, the well baby nursery, and the pediatric emergency room. Our training was intense, but well planned out and provided us with a strong pediatric foundation and a great deal of support. As our training neared the end, we were all asked to write down the areas which we most desired to be in. I quickly wrote down the neonatal intensive unit as my first choice followed by the intermediate nursery as my second choice and pediatrics as my third choice.

Decision Day

nicu First Year as a Nurse

So, imagine my shock when I received my assignment and it was not the neonatal intensive care unit. While I was thrilled to have a job, I was devastated because I thought I knew what was best for me. My nurse educator came and explained that after watching me for the past several months, everyone agreed that I would excel with children since I was so good at communicating with them and helping them through difficult situations. They placed me in the pediatric float pool where the pediatric floor would be my main unit, but I would have the opportunity to float to all of the other units frequently. At first I was very disappointed, but it turned out that the nurses saw something in me that I did not and their decision truly guided me down an amazing path.


Over the next several months, I had the opportunity to care for some of the most amazing children, forming bonds with them that were so special. Children with congenital AIDS, cystic fibrosis, cancer, conjoined twins who were successfully separated, and children with many other acute and chronic conditions. I enjoyed caring for the chronic patients and quickly learned more and became chemotherapy certified. I would spend the next 8 years on the hospital’s special care unit, basically one step below the pediatric intensive care, caring for many of the sickest patients and helping them and their families through their journeys. Many survived and went on. However, there were also many who did not make it and through them, I learned so much. I developed as a person and a nurse, learning and dealing with issues that you cannot learn by just reading. I will never forget any of the children I cared for in my first year or their families.


peds cancer First Year as a Nurse

Over the years, I continued my training and became a certified pediatric nurse practitioner, a certified pediatric oncology nurse, and a certified clinical nurse specialist. I have continued working in pediatric oncology, hematology, and blood and marrow transplantation as a clinical nurse specialist and have found every moment to be extremely rewarding. I know that I truly ended up in the perfect area for me and for the patient and families I care for.

About Michelle

Michelle Besmer is dedicated to preparing the next generation of nurses for successful careers. She completed her Bachelors of Nursing and her Masters as a Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner at Rutgers University. She has practiced and trained nurses in pediatrics for over 15 years. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family, baking and playing trumpet.

One Response to “My First Year as a Nurse: Michelle”

  1. Amanda Drew says:

    It’s good that you point out that during your internship they rotated you through the different units like intermediate care nursery, well baby nursery, pediatric emergency room, and the neonatal intensive care. I’d imagine that you’re experience of not being able to go into the neonatal intensive care unit is relatively common. It seems like working with babies and making sure that they’re all right would be a very sought after position. I’m glad that it all worked out for you and you’ve found a wonderful position that you enjoy, but if someone else does want to get a neonatal career they’ll probably need to look pretty hard.

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