At NurseGrid, we believe in the power of community. To us, community means sharing experiences, offering support, and making connections. We created these monthly Spotlights for that reason – to showcase you, share your stories, and ensure your voice is heard.
Meet Brittney Wilson, RN, BSN
Tell us about yourself!
I'm a registered nurse with a passion for technology. I work in the online engagement and professional development space of healthcare, which means I use my nursing expertise to help other nurses and healthcare professionals to perform their jobs. About 10 years ago, I started an online brand and persona called "The Nerdy Nurse." I've used this brand to evolve professional and help other nurses do the same. The Nerdy Nurse blog features content to help nurse feel more confident in their careers whether that is picking the best stethoscope or discovering a new career path. I also help nurses discover and hone their digital voices through blogs and social media through the Health Media Academy. I'm an expert in online community, user engagement, gamification, content marketing, and search engine optimization. I've written two books, spoken internationally, and received numerous awards for my writing. I live in Nashville, Tennessee with my two beautiful children, doting husband, and two mini Goldendoodles.
What inspired you to become a nurse?
I became a nurse as a stop along the way to a career as a plastic surgeon. I wanted to work in healthcare, but I wanted to impact the quality of life and not just quantity. I thought plastic surgery would be the way I would accomplish that. But I stopped off to get a nursing degree to ensure I could tolerate blood and other bodily fluids. I quickly realized that nursing was all about impacting the quality of life and I fell in love with this wonderful profession.
What do you love most about NurseGrid technology / NurseGrid app?
I really appreciate the NurseGrid app because it puts nurses in charge of their schedules. In the past, there have been so many hoops that nurses have to go through in order to get a shift covered or pick up extra work. The app makes this part of a nurse's life an absolute breeze. I also have to admit that I appreciate that it eliminates the need for an awkward phone call when bed board or someone else wants someone to pick up a shift. How nice to avoid that uncomfortable conversation, but still make sure a shift gets covered.
What is the best lesson you’ve learned as a nurse?
The best lesson I've learned as a nurse is that there is always another lesson to learn. The second you think you know everything is exactly when you should retire. A nurse who knows everything is a dangerous nurse.
What advice do you have for new grads?
Be pleasant, respectful, and helpful to your colleagues. Ditch the nursing school know it all attitude and learn to be humble. Starting off too confident as a nurse is a good way to quickly become a target for bullying. I speak from personal experience, so trust me when I say that if you're generally super confident and assertive, you may want to tone it down a bit.
I would also recommend that new grads seek a mentor. This can be someone they work with, a relative that is a nurse, or even someone they connect with online. You can find mentorship in the form of books and blogs as well. My friend Kati Kleber (founder of FreshRN.com and my partner in HealthMediaAcademy.com) has written an amazing guide for nurses in their first year called Becoming Nursey. It's a must-read.
How do you balance work, life, family, personal time? Self-care?
I'm fortunate that my husband is a stay at home dad. This gives me a lot more freedom to try things without having to also be the primary housekeeper and child rearer. When both spouses work it's important to communicate clearly with each other when you need time to do tasks that keep you sane. I always have a list of priority things that need to get done and do those things first. Sometimes that means that some things don't get done. You pick your battles. That means that the house may not always be perfect because I chose to prioritize making a family meal over deep cleaning the carpets.
Best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Always take a phone call. I had a great boss early in my career gives me this tip. I was feeling guilting about entertaining a potential job offer and decided to have a conversation with her about it, as she was someone that I knew cared for me personally and would give me good career advice. She expressed that opportunities often knock when you least expect it and you should never feel bad about taking a phone call. This has been one of the best things I've ever learned in my career as it's opened the doors to countless opportunities that I might have felt too guilty or inadequate to pursue otherwise.
What piece of advice would you like to pass on to new nurses / to nursing students / to the nurse community?
The nursing profession is amazing because there are so many specialties and ways to practice nursing. If you ever find yourself burnout or frustrated with your career, don't hesitate to go in a different direction. The nursing skillset is also applicable to many non-traditional career paths as well. For example, I'm an informatics nurse. However, I'm even more unconventional because I build online communities and gamification strategies for professional development. There is never a reason to be bored or burnout. Simply pick a different flavor of nursing. If you don't like it, pick something else. I can't think of a career with more diverse career opportunities than nursing.
What is your favorite thing about being a part of the nurse community?
It's hard to boil it down to just one thing. The nursing community, specifically the online community, is incredibly supportive. Nurses will rally together to protect one another if they feel one of us has been wronged. There are large advocacy groups on Facebook that make it their mission to speak out and advocate when they feel that what's being done to one nurse could negatively impact us all.
I also appreciate that nurses are the most trusted profession. It's a badge of honor that I hold very close to my heart.
What do you wish more people knew about being a nurse?
I wish people knew that there is more than one way to be a nurse. The public perception of nursing is very narrow. Even today when most people picture a nurse they see a woman in a white dress with a little cap or perhaps colorful scrubs. It's rare that people picture an executive in business attire, or even someone in their car driving to a home health appointment. There are many ways to help people which makes nursing so diverse.
How do you hope to see the role of nursing change in the media?
I would like to see more examples of nurses of different color, genders, shapes, sizes, and specialties represented. There is more to nursing than bedside care. The image of nursing is evolving. Many healthcare employers are even allowing nurses to have visible tattoos.
Tell us about you and why you began your side hustle, The Nerdy Nurse:
The Nerdy Nurse is a career resource for nurses to help them feel more confident in the work that they do. Whether it's finding a great pair of nursing shoes or figuring out what it means to blow an IV. I started The Nerdy Nurse in a moment of desperation in my nursing career. I had a tough first year as a new nurse. In addition to graduating from nursing school and starting my first nursing job, I broke my leg, got married, got pregnant, lost my mother suddenly to a PE, and had a baby! That's enough life events for one year and I smashed them all into one. If that wasn't hard enough, I experienced severe bullying and isolation as a new nurse. I had no one to talk to about nursing which made me feel desperate and fairly pathetic. I started a twitter account to make connections with other nurses so I could attempt to salvage my career. It grew into a blog. While I was helping myself deal with bullying I started helping others. It's grown into a trusted brand that I'm thankful for. Creating The Nerdy Nurse helped me survive and to eventually learn to love nursing and now it helps others do the same.
Spotlight Bio: Brittney Wilson, BSN, RN, the nurse behind The Nerdy Nurse and co-founder of Health Media Academy, is an award-winning author and blogger, international keynote speaker, and influencer in the nursing and healthcare technology communities. You can connect with her on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Linkedin.