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The student nurse practitioner transition to APN nurse can be difficult and even problematic. Most students experience serious stress, as they are approaching the moment of transition. More often than not, students develop a sense of uncertainty, as they are afraid that their skills and knowledge will not suffice to let them fulfill their workplace roles. Many others feel excited and, at the same time, challenged to give up their daily routines and become independent professionals. Needless to say, student nurse practitioners who are still at the very beginning of their APN careers need mentorship, emotional support, and guidance as they are moving up the professional ladder. To my mind, student nurse practitioners in the state of transition to APN nurse will have to travel this road more than once in their lives; therefore, they should be prepared to face difficulties and overcome challenges on their way to professional success and quality community service.
Today, I have finally reached the stage of transition, which will predetermine my future roles and achievements. As a result, I view myself as a person in a state of an identity crisis. Gone are the times when the student nurse practitioner's identity was the determining feature of my daily life and performance. A new life of an APN nurse is ahead of me, and I am still to get used to it. I realize that I will face numerous barriers on my way to becoming an APN nurse. I also know that I will have to develop excellent planning and decision-making abilities to define the best professional direction. I have had numerous opportunities to rehearse the role of APN nurse, and the time has come when I moved onto a higher level of clinical knowledge application.
I realize that, once I finish my graduate studies, I will have to prepare myself for obtaining the APN certificate. At this stage, dealing with the growing number of paper documents will be one of the primary barriers. At the same time, I will also be recovering from the earlier school experiences and making myself prepared for the certification exam. Simultaneously, I will have to focus on finding decent employment, which will allow me to realize my professional potential and advance myself in my career. At present, I perceive job search as one of the most serious barriers to a successful transition to APN. The fact is that I cannot even imagine how the process will go and what I should expect. These difficulties are further complicated by the lack of certainty and confidence. Although I have completed numerous practical rotations, I am still afraid of not being fully prepared for my new clinical role.
The fear of being incompetent is very strong, as I see myself moving from the student nurse practitioner to the APN nurse. I have a fear that everything I have learned during my studies is inadequate and insufficient to ensure my successful transition to APN nurse. I am afraid that the amount of new information, obligations, and role functions are so enormous that I will not be able to cope with it. I am also afraid that it will take me a very long time to clarify the APN nurse roles and adjust to them. I imagine myself being slow with the primary professional tasks. I see myself lagging behind my more experienced and professional colleagues. I am afraid that they will become impatient and will not improve my indecisiveness, as I am getting used to the new role. I have a fear that I will not receive enough support to help me go through the process of transition to APN nurse.
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Certainly, I have experienced friends-nurses, who say that my emotions are normal at this stage of transition. They also report being slow and confused at the very beginning of their careers. This is what Jansen and Zwygart-Stauffacher (2010) describe as "getting through the day: [...] enormous time is required to get through the day and perform the tasks required of the position" (p.309). This is also why I experience so much anxiety about my future role, while also being extremely excited about it, and this is why I believe that I will not be able to accomplish my professional mission without an adequate mentorship and support. I am convinced that only in the presence of a qualified mentor I will manage to move smoothly from my current role to that of APN. I view mentors as creators of quality socialization contexts and opportunities, which will facilitate my integration into the new environment. I expect that the mentor will help me to develop the feeling of self-worth, while also making me aware of my biggest weaknesses and areas for further improvement. I anticipate that the mentor will help me to create an objective picture of my professionalism and prospects for growth. I hope that mentorship will become a source of essential clinical knowledge and an instrument of skills development and improvement. I will hardly be able to develop and sustain the feeling of professional confidence without a mentor.
With anxiety and excitement being my strongest feelings, I also experience a unique combination of confusion and confidence. On the one hand, I am quite confused about the ways I will use to fulfill my professional expectations and meet the needs of the community, which I will serve. I should say that I view my role as that of a public servant, whose primary mission is to serve the nursing needs of the target population. On the other hand, I have a deep sense of confidence that I will be able to overcome all barriers in my transition from student nurse practitioner to APN. Apart from mentorship, I will definitely need quality and continuous peer support. I have seen some APNs become better equipped with knowledge and emotional management skills, as they were supported by family and peers during their transition from student nurse practitioner to APN. The number of APNs constantly increases, and I realize that the health care system is doing everything possible to reduce barriers to professional development and make transition to new professional roles smoother.
However, today, I am also facing the challenge of emancipation. The state of New Jersey does not have any explicit laws regarding emancipation. Based on Bishop v. Bishop (1995), the legal standard for emancipation for New Jersey is when the child is no longer influenced by a parent and acquires a new, independent decision making status. Suffice it to say, emancipated individuals in New Jersey have no right for health care insurance compensation from their parents, regardless of their age. Yet, most state courts still insist that parents pay for children's education and health care, to provide them with enough development opportunities at their young age.