My Advice to Future RN/JDs: Keep Your Foot In All Doors

A student from Howard School of Nursing called to ask me to donate and I politely declined because in the words of my Twinnie, “I ain’t got it!”  She followed up with a few questions about becoming an RN/JD and 20 minutes later I had given her advice that I wished someone would have given to me.


In the end, I would not have done things differently, but I would have done things better.

1.  Keep your job in healthcare, even if it is just PRN.

If I would have kept my previous position, I would have had 6 years of active nursing experience instead of just 3.  I also would have had an easier time finding a position in that current healthcare system as a long-term employee.  I could have increased my hours after I took the bar, to help me in my post grad transition.  I quit my job because it was difficult balancing school and work initially and the administration convinced me that I could not work and do well my first year.  Do not listen to that.  Staying busy sometimes helps you focus and properly prioritize your time.

2. If you have a specialized career path, go to a school that has the resources to assist you with breaking into that field.

Although my law school had a previous RN/JD & have quite a few alumni in healthcare positions, I did not connect with them until I was in the middle of my job search.  There are a few law schools that have health care law certificate programs, concentrations in health care, or a course load that allows you to get more in-depth knowledge with policy and healthcare.  I did not think that my path was that special or that I would need a lot of assistance in obtaining a policy or healthcare associate position, but a different school could have possibly expanded my potential opportunities.

3.  Make time for extracurricular activities that can connect you with people in your future field.

I cannot make any excuses as to why I was not more involved in the ABA or other organizations that had a host of healthcare lawyers.  Although I was encouraged to join them, I did not feel that I had the time.  One thing you forget in law school is how to balance and in doing so, you can miss out on very important connections that you may need in the future.

4. Your career path is special and you should highlight that often.

One thing I could have done better was highlighting my transferable skills clearly.  Many people see my resume and do not understand why a nurse would want to be a lawyer, despite the millions of current issues that intersect with healthcare, policy, and the law.  People need to understand the why although you think that it is obvious.  Being able to have practical patient  experience that involves very calculated decision-making and collaboration is key to being in policy or in legal positions.  Do not shrink yourself to seem normal when you are not.

5. Do not be afraid to ask for help from those who have been hired to help you.

I made the mistake of not reaching out to Career Services until I had put in over 60 plus applications.  I thought that I would be able to land a position with the resources I had.  The Career Services Office is there to help you and connect you with the right people.  It is all about who you know, even more so in this current job market.  Although you may look great on paper, people may not even look at that paper if they don’t have a reason to pull your resume.

6. Keep an open mind.

Although my back up plan was to go back to nursing, I never though that I would really go back into nursing.  I know that some people may see this as a step backwards, but financially it is 10 steps forward and now I am apart of a healthcare organization that may be able to use all of the skills that I have obtained over my 8 years of schooling.  Do not be afraid to take an untraditional path to the right position.  You will always be a nurse and your  skills will always be valued.  Make sure you don’t keep yourself from a great opportunity because you have a plan that you do not want to deter from.

I wish someone would have told me a few of these things.  I may have listened or learned on my own but I want the next person to know better and do better.

Keep your foot in all doors.  Always think ahead and of the potential issues that can arise.  Maintain your nursing license.  Be you.  Do you.  Tell your own story.  On your own terms.

Why I Am Perfect

Job hunting in a recovering economy is a job in itself.  Many of my classmates have worked diligently and found positions that will lay the foundation to their career.  Then there are the people like me: the one who passed over many positions instead of just applying and starting somewhere, to find a position that is idealistic.  I left my last career because I wanted to make a greater impact on people and patients outside of a hospital environment.  But over the last few months I have realized that there isn’t a job out there that encompasses all of the things that I desire to do, so I need to put my idealism to the side and find a job.

The hunt is on.  I am open to opportunities that will help me grow as a young attorney, while still giving me a great work/life balance.  Those two things I cannot compromise and will clearly express them in my interviews…when I get one.

One of my favorite questions is,”What makes you perfect for this job?”  As I enjoyed my moment of peace today, I started thinking about what makes me perfect for any job.  As we have progressed professionally, many of us have forgotten that degrees, resumes and life experiences alone don’t make a person perfect for a position, but their chemistry, their personality and their drive is what people are going to look at once they are at the table.

So for me, when I answer this question, I am going to speak to all of the things that make me perfect.  I am dedicated.  I have always taken the time to learn the necessary skills to be a great employee at every job that I have ever had; from Shop Rite, to being a server, a teller all the way to my job as a nurse.  I love being right, so I am going to do what is necessary to make sure that I am doing my job to the best of my ability.  I show up early, stay late and go above and beyond because I know that it is necessary for my growth.

I am a fast learner.  I love being right (clearly), so I try to learn my job, as well as other people’s jobs just in case I have to step in during a time of need.  When I first started as a student nurse at Hopkins, I was in Urology (shout out to the best team at the Johns Hopkins Hospital), and I learned all of the skills I needed to do those surgeries and took any opportunity available to learn from other technicians and nurses who worked in other specialties.  I enjoyed the challenges that came with learning new things.  My first weekend out of orientation as a nurse was one filled with trauma and emergencies, and no one could tell that was my first time at the rodeo.

I love to learn.  I love challenges.  I love people.  I love to be right (just in case you didn’t know, now you do).  I am perfect because I invest my all in everything that I do, which makes me right for any job that I am applying for.  These characteristics are not written on a resume, in the descriptions of any of my positions or clear through my transcripts (grades aren’t everything so beat it).  I am perfect for any job because of who I am.  My genuineness. My fortitude.  My passion.

This is a reminder to us all to look beyond what we have done and start to expressing who we really are outside of the obvious.  We are greater than the sums of our applications or any individual accomplishment or failure that we have experienced.  Our distinct differences are what makes us great people to be around, to learn from, to grow with.  We are all perfect in our own respects.  As long as you are only trying to be the best you that there is, there is no real competition out there that can challenge you or step to you for that title.  In a busy city setting, we are so used to passing out business cards, but we are immune to getting to know who people really are.

As we enjoy the sweet weeks of summer, challenge yourself to get to know people beyond their business card, job title or financial status.  For those of us mounting up to get back on the saddle and ride to our dream job and for those who have been on that road too long, know that you are great and all you need is an opportunity to get to the interview to tell them who you really are.  When asked this question, make sure you are not harping on just your experiences, but those unique details that set you apart from the rest.

Be perfect. Be you.  Do you.  Tell your own story.  On your own terms.