How to Choose a Nurturing Health Care System

By Karla Ramberger, RN, Chief Nursing Officer, Methodist Dallas Medical Center

Nurturing NursesNursing has always been synonymous with nurture. In fact, both words have the same Latin origin, “nutritura,” meaning “the act of nursing.”

While nurses have long been devoted to the care and nurture of patients, today’s health care leaders recognize an equally important commitment to nurture our nurses.  Whether you are a new graduate about to launch your career or a veteran nurse re-entering the workforce, the care and keeping of YOU is as important as the care and keeping of patients.

At Methodist Health System, one way we nurture new nurses is through the preceptor program, which supports the learning curve once the new job begins. Additionally, we give nurses more time with their nursing managers. Often, the only interaction new nurses have with their manager is during the interview. It’s important to listen and understand what new nurses need to be successful, both professionally and personally.

As a new nurse looking to land that first job, here are a few things you can do to find a nurturing environment:

  • Look for an area you truly want to work in. Stick to your guns and don’t settle for something just to get a job.

  • Notice the culture as you tour the units. What kind of atmosphere is it? How does it feel? Is it family-oriented? Is it caring?

  • Ask if the hospital has block or flex scheduling. What’s best for you? If it’s not what you’re looking for, don’t settle. Remember, you need a balance between work and home life.

  • Ask about educational benefits. Obtaining a master’s degree in nursing while working at the bedside is becoming increasingly common. At Methodist, for instance, we offer up to $5,000 annually for nurses to advance their degrees. Not only is advanced education beneficial to your career, a learning environment can be fulfilling and increase self-esteem.

Seasoned nurses returning to the workforce after a few years may feel intimidated by changes which have occurred in nursing. That’s all the more reason to look for the right kind of nurturing environment. Remember, once a nurse, always a nurse. Have self-confidence in your skills and experience. Ask about resources to help you reintegrate into the hospital setting. Here are some other words of wisdom:

1.   With today’s technology, knowledge is available electronically. You don’t have to memorize everything. Tools and references are always at hand.

2.   At Methodist, learning is an ongoing process. As a teaching hospital, bedside nurses are learning along with residents.

3.  The flexibility available today is great. You can choose to work three 12-hour shifts and that’s considered full time. Flexible shifts help you balance home and work. That’s the beauty of working at a place that’s 24/7.

4.   Look at retirement programs, health care benefits, and employee health resources. Many organizations offer programs to help you stop smoking, lose weight, and improve your overall health. Methodist, for example, is focused on becoming the healthiest health care system by 2016.

5.   Remember, you’re in good company. You won’t be working with all 20-year-olds. You bring a lot to the table with your experiences.

Once you’ve identified where you want to work, make a great first impression in your interview. Avoid flip flops, low-cut shirts, capri pants, T-shirts, and jeans. Don’t wear scrubs unless you’re coming from another job and you have no other option. Dress codes are certainly less stringent than in the past, but you still want to project a professional, competent image.

To be part of Methodist Health System, where you can give your talents to a hospital that gives back, visit


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