1. Ferrell, Betty PhD, MA, FAAN, FPCN, CHPN

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It is June, and this month includes a special time for the nursing profession. It is the time when graduations occur and new graduates enter the world of nursing. This year's new graduates look a little different than the nurses I graduated with 37 years ago (yes, still in the era of nursing caps!). They are a bit older; many have degrees and previous careers in other fields. And to be very honest, I think these new graduates are smarter, wiser, and better prepared for the challenges ahead.


I have had the privilege over the past few months to have a new graduate, Caitanya Min, work in our department as she was waiting to begin a new graduate orientation program in my hospital. Caitanya plans to work in oncology to develop her clinical skills, but her deep passion is in palliative care. She was inspired to pursue this field after a lecture at her university by a palliative care nurse, Dr Marian Grant. Sometimes, that's all it takes-1 great nurse, connecting with another.


My colleague Pam Malloy, a model educator and palliative care nurse, says that "every nurse needs a mentor and every nurse needs to be a mentor." So, palliative care colleagues, here is your chance to seize the opportunity this month to find a new graduate nurse and offer your mentorship as he/she enters this overwhelming, demanding, exhausting, and ever so rewarding world of nursing. Support that new graduate through their first challenging pain problem or first experience in witnessing death. Be there to understand what it is like to advocate for the most vulnerable patient, to break down institutional barriers, and to comfort families. Be the one person for support when late at night when most everyone has gone home but the night shift new graduate who will be asked those words, "You don't think I will die, do you?"


Ask any clinical nurse if they can recall their first patient death, and I can assure you that most will share vivid memories of that death. Unfortunately, most will tell stories of feeling alone, unsupported, and unprepared. What if we changed that legacy and each new graduate had the opportunity to witness a first death feeling prepared and supported?


Caitanya Min is one of only a few new graduates who have already realized the commitment to pursue palliative care, but the reality is that virtually all new graduates will soon discover that their daily work involves caring for seriously ill patients and their families. New graduates in neonatal intensive care units, cardiac care, pediatrics, emergency departments, and every other setting can be supported by palliative care nurses through this powerful time of transition to becoming a nursing professional.


Caitanya has already attended a local chapter Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association meeting, but most new graduates probably don't even know that the Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association exists. Find those new graduates and introduce them to our organization, journals, certification, and to the opportunity to be surrounded by colleagues who are equally passionate about caring for seriously ill patients and their families.


So here's to you Caitanya, and to the more than 160 000 new graduates about to join our profession. You are about to begin your nursing career, and I promise that you will have more deeply meaningful moments in your first month of practice than many people do in their whole careers. Palliative care is nursing of the future. If Florence Nightingale came back tomorrow, I know that she would choose palliative nursing. It's everything she wrote about-evidence based practice, compassion, and intimate care of the body. It is the "finest art" to relieve suffering and to provide comfort. And our first step is to make these new colleagues feel the support of their peers.


Betty Ferrell, PhD, MA, FAAN, FPCN, CHPN




The author has no conflicts of interest to disclose.