An Open Letter to the Class of 2022 Nursing Graduates

NurseJournal Staff
Updated December 16, 2022
    As a new nursing grad, you're about to embark on a journey of ups and downs. A nurse educator encourages you to remember your "why."
    Featured Image
    Portrait of Shrilekha Deshaies, MSN, CCRN, RN

    Shrilekha Deshaies, MSN, CCRN, RN

    Shri Deshaies is a nurse educator with over 20 years of experience teaching in hospital, nursing school, and community settings. Deshaies’ clinical area of expertise is critical care nursing, and she is a certified critical care nurse. She has worked in various surgical ICUs throughout her career, including cardiovascular, trauma, and neurosurgery.


    You did it!

    Do you remember your very first day of nursing school? The moment when you walked into the classroom and said to yourself, “I made it! I’m here.”

    I want you to go back to that day and remember the reason why you decided to go to nursing school. This “why” has probably been your beacon during the darkest times: long hours doing clinical assignments, reading unending pages about drug reactions, and having nightmares about select-all-that-apply questions. And many of you have done this while working and raising families. This is something to be very proud of.

    Your perseverance has paid off and now you are about to enter the nursing workforce! Before you embark on this journey, I want you to take a minute and write down your truths. When you feel overwhelmed, frustrated, defeated, or like you’re not making a difference — because trust me, we all feel this way — remember your truths: why you became a nurse and what impact you want to make in this field.

    I’ve developed my truths over the last 21 years of my nursing career, and they embody the core of who I am and why I became a nurse. I’d like to share with you my truths.

    TRUTH #1: Don’t be swayed by others’ negative opinions about nursing.

    Sadly, in our profession there are individuals who have seemingly forgotten their light and their why. Don’t allow their negativity to change your heart about the profession.

    I try to surround myself with nurses who are passionate and proud to be nurses. If you are not in this environment, then my next truth may help.

    TRUTH #2: Don’t stay in an environment that doesn’t bring you joy.

    Of course, you may not feel joy every moment of every day, but you should be happy at work. That joy is different for all of us. It might be:

    • Learning something new
    • Making a patient smile
    • Laughing with other healthcare providers

    Even on the toughest days (and thanks to COVID-19, most days are tough) you should find some joy in your day. If you don’t, then it is time for a change.

    TRUTH #3: Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself and try something new.

    I was a nurse for two years when a position opened up for assistant nurse manager (ANM) on my unit. I had no experience in leadership, but I was willing to challenge myself and try. I got the job and worked as an ANM for about nine months; I truly hated it.

    But at a conference, I was introduced to the director of education, and she was looking to hire an educator. My experience as an ANM opened this tremendous door for me. I have now been a nurse educator for 15 years and saying “yes” to a job I hated led me to my true calling.

    TRUTH #4: Be proud of your work.

    Just as you gave 100% in school, apply that same energy to your work and you will be rewarded with opportunity.

    TRUTH #5: Be part of the solution.

    It is very easy to complain and go down the rabbit hole of negativity. Evaluate your situation and be part of the solution.

    My last and final truth is my deepest core value.

    TRUTH #6: Be compassionate (to your patients, their families, students, coworkers, etc.).

    Our paths only briefly intersect. Maya Angelou once said: “As a nurse, we have the opportunity to heal the mind, soul, heart, and body of our patients. They may forget your name, but they will never forget how you made them feel.”

    Now go and find YOUR truths. Start with one and let the rest develop as your career unfolds.

    Congratulations Nursing Class of 2022! Raise your glass up HIGH. I wish you all good things, and may your light burn for many years to come!


    Shrilekha Deshaies, MSN, CCRN, RN