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Interview with Joyce Fiodembo, Nurse, Author and Entrepreneur

Joyce Fiodembo is a nurse, author and entrepreneur. Joyce is the author of “The Foreign Nurses Guide to Settling in America” and “How Nurses Cope with Difficult Coworkers“. Her next book, ‘Reflections and Prayers for Nurses’ will be out in May. She started her career in Kenya where she worked as a Travel, ICU and Operating Room nurse. Joyce migrated to America in 2002, where she had to restart her career from the beginning before she was able to take her NCLEX exam, which gave her the ability to practice as an RN, again. Through her blog, International Nurses Support, Joyce offers consulting services to minority nurses who may be struggling with cultural challenges as well as career uncertainties. Joyce also focuses on working with foreign nurses who are both in and out of the country, but may be struggling with issues that involve relocating and transitioning from a foreign nurse to an American nurse.

What event or series of events led you to pursue nursing as a professional choice?

Joyce FiodemboAs a child, I was what you would consider always ill or a sickly child. I suffered from childhood asthma and every other month I was in hospital.The nurses were always so kind and caring, which led me to start admiring a career in nursing from a young age.

Name 1 or 2 specific challenges you have faced in your career in nursing and the steps you took to overcome them?

One challenge I faced in my career was traveling from one county to another and working with different cultures. In Africa, I worked with an organization called ‘The Flying Doctors’ as a travel nurse. This meant I would travel to several different countries that spoke a different language from mine.The cultural differences were always a challenge, but over time, I learned to work with people from different cultures.

When I came to America in 2002, it was another experience of settling into a different culture. I had to take more exams and there was lots of paperwork to be done. I started working as a nurse assistant as I waited for the paperwork to be processed, even though I had been a Unit Manager in my country, which was a humbling experience. I overcame this challenge by not allowing myself to get discouraged, and keeping my focus on getting my American license. I also focused on being grateful for the job, instead of focusing on the fact that I was not working as a nurse.

Can you give us an example of an interesting case or project that you have worked on and your role in helping to achieve a positive outcome?

An interesting project is my website, International Nurses Support, which I started in January 2012. My own experience inspired me to begin this site. This site is for nurses who are in a culture different from theirs, nurses who have migrated or relocated, minority nurses and new nurses facing work challenges. The goal is to inspire and support nurses to thrive in their career. Many of my readers tell me that the information is very helpful and relevant to their daily practice.

Can you describe what a typical day looks like for you or the activities you spend the most time on at work?

A typical day for me is quite different from what a unit nurse does. I am building my entrepreneurial business and I am passionate about writing. I spend most of my time writing and reading. I start a typical day by glancing through my email to see if I have any urgent mail. Thereafter, I focus on things that build my business like writing books and blog posts. I have started a consulting service for international nurses who have questions or concerns about the NCLEX exam and relocation questions. I focus on answering the questions I get via email as well as make appointments with those who want a one-on-one session. Marketing is a very important part of my business. I market my business by being active on social media, corresponding to my readers via email and participating in forums. Studying how to run a business becomes an ongoing commitment if you want to be successful. I always read and study books about running businesses.

What aspects of your work do you enjoy the most?

Naturally I love writing. It comes easily to me and I love putting my ideas on paper.

What advice would you give to new graduates for getting hired after graduation?

I would advise them to be open-minded when it comes to getting their first job. I have worked in several different nursing settings and this gave me a lot of experience. You may want to work in the ER, but a job may not be available yet. Starting to work on the surgical floor does not mean you will never move. Every unit will give you experience which is always valuable. In short, “avoid being too picky.”

What is the key strength you bring to your career and how would you advise new graduates to mine their own strengths to further their careers?

My biggest strength is the ability to adjust and a willingness to learn. I would advise new grads to be flexible. It is a great strength. Also, be open to learn from anybody because everyone has something to teach. Continue reading even though you just passed your NCLEX exam. Continue growing. The moment one stops learning, they become a dangerous nurse and that is how medical mistakes are made. Have a vision of where you want to be five, ten years down the road, and work toward your vision.

We’d like to thank Joyce for being so generous with her time and sharing her insights and advice with our readers. You can learn more about Joyce Fiodembo at her site, International Nurses Support.