Vital Views

Networking in nursing is an underrated aspect of the profession, but one that's especially important for young nurses. UNLV Nursing alumni JoAnn Nardoni and Marian Pascua explain through their current leadership roles what they prefer to see when hiring new nurses and common mistakes in the interview process.

Sunrise Hospital Jobs:
Seven Hills Behavioral Health Jobs:

Creators & Guests

Joseph Gaccione
Host, Writer, Producer
JoAnn Nardoni
Nurse Residency Coordinator, Sunrise Hospital
Marian Pascua
Interim Chief Nursing Officer, Seven Hills Behavioral Hospital

What is Vital Views?

Vital Views is a weekly podcast created by UNLV School of Nursing to discuss health care from a Rebel Nursing perspective. We share stories and expert information on both nursing-specific and broader healthcare topics to bring attention to the health trends and issues that affect us. New episodes every Tuesday.

Feedback? Questions? Episode Ideas? Email

Joe Gaccione 00:03
Hello, and welcome to Vital Views, podcast for UNLV School of Nursing. I'm Joe Gaccione, Communications Director for the School of Nursing. Three times a year, UNLV Nursing graduates a slew of new nurses at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. As the students get closer to graduation, they become more exposed to the real world machinations of the nursing profession. And that includes, like most job fields, the art of professional connections and how to properly interview for different roles. But what are the dos and don'ts of nurse networking and interviewing? How does a nurse essentially build their brand? We have two experts to help explain more about these intangibles. Joining us first is Joann Nardoni, nurse residency coordinator for Sunrise Hospital here in Las Vegas. Joann has been with Sunrise since she was a nurse apprentice there back in 2001. She's also been recognized numerous times by March of Dimes for her work in pediatrics and nurse education. Joann, thanks for coming by.

Joann Nardoni 00:56
Hi Joe. Thank you for having me today.

Joe Gaccione 00:58
Not a problem. Let's start with your role first. What does it mean to be a nurse residency coordinator?

Joann Nardoni 01:04
Well, as a nurse residency coordinator, I often am the middle man, kind of collaborate with our new grad training program, our hospital leadership, our recruitment team, our nurse managers, and then I also function to help support those new nurses through that first year. It's a very challenging time, so just getting the job isn't necessarily the biggest part, but maintaining and being successful in that job through the first year is, is really the focus of my role.

Joe Gaccione 01:32
We've talked with other experts about that new nurse feeling, because once you graduate, you don't know everything and now you're in the real world. Is that first year the roughest year?

Joann Nardoni 01:42
Absolutely. It is very challenging for a lot of people. In the beginning, we have a super-supportive training program. We do a lot of wonderful skills labs and simulation and great training. You have a long preceptorship and it's that time after preceptorship when they're on their own, that really the biggest challenges come until about eight months or so, and then they start to fly and everything's great after that.

Joe Gaccione 02:07
I want to talk about the recruitment angle. What do you and your facility look for with new nurses? What are those characteristics aside from the academics that they've learned?

Joann Nardoni 02:18
Yeah. So, that's a big one here. You know, Sunrise is an inner city major medical center. So, obviously we're looking for people who can manage and talk to people in all different walks of life. We're looking for people who are very well rounded, who have good life skills. It doesn't have to be a job in healthcare, but we're always looking for somebody who has had a job before, somebody who, you know, this inner city major medical center, first year of nursing, isn't where they're gonna be working out some of the kinks of how to just be a good employee, too. They have enough to work out with being a new nurse. Let's not have it be a new employee as well.

Joe Gaccione 02:55
Because it's already a challenging role. You have to have so much knowledge, health science-based, but you also have to remember you're human too. And there are nuances just like any job. And when you're in the professional field, you're building a career, you're building this brand. What are some of the kinks that you see with new nurses? Like, are they more interpersonal relationships or are they more with the nursing realm of it?

Joann Nardoni 03:20
It's oftentimes the nursing realm. They're very fearful of what they don't know. They're afraid to make a mistake and obviously hurt somebody. Nobody wants to do that, right, in their role. And so, they do have a lot of challenges managing a lot of those. New nursing skills, new nursing diagnosis, UNLV is a great program, but it really just gives them a small snippet of what they need to know and they learn all of that in their first year. And that is why it's such a challenge.

Joe Gaccione 03:47
How do nurses most effectively network to grow personally and professionally?

Joann Nardoni 03:52
Well, I love those nursing students who are in our facility and make a point to say hello, reach out to the charge nurses, reach out to the nurse managers. You know, if you see one of us with a nurse leader badge on, and you don't say hello, you know, you've missed that opportunity to maybe make a networking connection.

Joe Gaccione 04:10
Because really, all it takes is just something small, right? Just to be able to say hi, thank you, you're welcome. Just the smallest detail.

Joann Nardoni 04:18
Yes. Oftentimes a new nurse, somebody graduating, who's doing their final clinical say, or even if it's their second or third clinical at our facility, they can start making those connections from day one. And so, when they see people out there, you know, know that we're always watching as well. We're looking for those smiling faces. We're looking for those people who are willing to say hello, willing to go above and beyond, answer call lights, you know, do all kinds of things to support the unit while they're there. We're there for them, but they're also there for us. And when we can build those relationships from the beginning, it really helps those students land jobs in the end.

Joe Gaccione 04:55
Do you take part in the job interview process?

Joann Nardoni 04:57
I do, oftentimes. I don't always, but some units I do.

Joe Gaccione 05:01
What are some common mistakes that new nurses might make, or maybe not new nurses just in the student realm, but also just a new nurse coming to your facility. What are some things that you see where you go, “Uh, I wish they didn't do that during the interview process”?

Joann Nardoni 05:14
I think the biggest mistake that people make is they back themselves into a corner with a specialty that they want. Many new nurses don't get to start in their dream job right out of the gates. They have to start somewhere, build their foundation, and understand that this is the beginning of their career, it's not the end of their career. And so, it's good, I always say, all experience is good experience, and you can start somewhere that isn't necessarily your, your dream or your passion job of nursing, and know that we'll help you grow into that. I myself didn't start in the exact place that I ended up, right? We all can develop ourselves professionally and it's okay to just start doing that.

Joe Gaccione 05:57
Because like we said before, you don't know everything and the first job you get isn't necessarily gonna be your last job. You don't have to hit a home run right out of the gate, correct?

Joann Nardoni 06:06
Correct. And a lot of people think, “Oh, I, I just wanna be a labor and delivery nurse,” or, “Oh, I just wanna be an ED nurse.” And then they get there, you know, and they enjoyed it in school, but then when it becomes their daily life, day in and day out of being a nurse, they oftentimes don't like it like they did, like they thought they would. And so, they do move around even when they do, you know, land those quote unquote, “dream jobs” in the beginning. It oftentimes doesn't turn out to be the, the dream that they think it is. So, we always support people who would want to start building their foundation somewhere and then develop their career after that.

Joe Gaccione 06:42
Many of our students have done nurse apprenticeships here in the valley and the ones that I've spoken to said that it's a great way to get a feel for not just the profession, but the facility you might be working in when you graduate, because you already have an in essentially as you grow with them, you're growing as a student. Did you feel that way when you were an apprentice?

Joann Nardoni 07:00
Correct. I had no idea the realm of nursing that I was gonna take when I took that job as a nurse apprentice. I really, I joke that it's the longest summer job ever, because I really just intended to be a nurse apprentice for about the summertime and it turned into a 21 year career at Sunrise. So, we love our nurse apprentices. We call them nurse externs at Sunrise, so if they are looking for a job, they're looking, that keyword search needs to be nurse extern, but it's the same role as nurse apprentice. And we prioritize them when we're ready to hire. The majority of our nurse externs will become new grad nurses in our facilities.

Joe Gaccione 07:35
Body language is another issue that we see in all types of job interviews. Do you notice that a lot when interviewing new nurses?

Joann Nardoni 07:41
Sometimes they’re swaying in the chair or, you know, nervous. We can look past those nerves, often. We know that that's nerves, we're looking a lot more for life experience, being able to communicate and speak to what their goals are, what they like in life, what they do for fun. You know, those are all kinds of things that we look for in new nurses.

Joe Gaccione 08:05
For our students, some of them have jobs secured before they graduate. They've been reaching out, they've been making these connections. What do you recommend as far as, maybe soon to be graduating students? What should their strategy be?

Joann Nardoni 08:17
I definitely recommend starting early, especially if you want some of those coveted specialty positions. For instance, we already have 12 graduates lined up for our January class for the emergency department. And so, these people haven't graduated yet. They haven't started, you know, even thinking about graduating yet and they've already lined up their jobs for next year. And so, definitely if you're looking for ICU, pediatrics, PICU, those positions go very fast. And so, six months in advance is a perfect time to start looking. You don't have to be graduated, you don't have to be licensed to have an interview and start that process.

Joe Gaccione 08:59
But if you do secure the interview or you secure the job, you at least, you need both of those to go through, correct?

Joann Nardoni 09:04
Correct. We do at Sunrise and all the HCA facilities, we start with a five to seven week didactic in the classroom setting. And so, we will allow you to start in the classroom setting without your license, but you have to secure your license before you start precepting and actually working at the bedside with patients.

Joe Gaccione 09:22
Okay. Is there a difference that you've seen between maybe students that just got their Bachelor's or will be getting their Bachelor's versus students that just received a graduate degree. Do, do you see a difference when it comes to, to interviewing and hiring?

Joann Nardoni 09:37
I definitely see a difference in resumes. I can definitely tell, when I can look at a resume straight up, I can tell the difference between a BSN resume and an ADN resume. However, I know UNLV might not like this answer so much, when nurses come onto the floor, we oftentimes can't tell the difference. So, once they secure that job, there's not a big difference. However, if people want to go into management, want to go into education, want to further their career from the bedside, we are always looking for that BSN or beyond. So, and even in a charge nurse role, we want those positions to be filled with BSN or beyond.

Joe Gaccione 10:16
I wanna touch on resumes just for a second. What is the first thing that you notice on a resume that could make or break a potential candidate? Is there one thing or are there multiple things?

Joann Nardoni 10:26
So, the one thing that I love to see is a lot of life experience. A lot of student nurses will spend three quarters of a one page resume telling me all about their nursing clinicals and all about the things that are required by state board, that every graduate in this city is gonna have the same exact things. And so, I don't want you to waste three quarters of your resume on things that every other nursing graduate has. I want you to spend the time and the place on your resume telling me about your life experience and who you are as a person.

Joe Gaccione 10:59
So, even for an undergraduate who may not have as much as someone more experienced with a graduate degree, they can still do that.

Joann Nardoni 11:05
Correct. We aren't looking just at nursing background or healthcare experience. We wanna know if you were a barista or a bartender or a waitress. We love that customer service. It doesn't matter if it was four years ago when you were in high school. If you held a job as a barista in Starbucks, you learned to talk to people and you'll be able to transfer that into your career as a nurse. And so, definitely resumes need to show life experience.

Joe Gaccione 11:33
My last question for you. Biggest tip you can give a new nurse during that first year?

Joann Nardoni 11:38
Do not back yourself into a corner, do not say that you're only willing to ever go into an ICU or an ED. You close so many doors upon yourself. 75% of our new grads do not get into the ICU or the ED right out of the graduation. Most will start building their foundation in nursing and med surg or some other area of nursing and those who insist on only ICU or ED positions really close themselves off to a lot of openings.

Joe Gaccione 12:06
Well, Joanne, that is all I have. Thank you very much for coming in.

Joann Nardoni 12:08
All right. I appreciate it. Thank you, Joe.

Joe Gaccione 12:10
We are also excited to have Marion Pascua with us. Marion is currently the interim chief nursing officer at Seven Hills Behavioral Health. She's also a part-time instructor for UNLV Nursing. She earned her Bachelor's in Nursing from UNLV back in 2009 and her Master's in Nursing Education from the University of Phoenix in 2015. Marion, thanks for coming in.

Marian Pascua 12:30
Thank you for having me here.

Joe Gaccione 12:31
Can you talk about what a CNO does?

Marian Pascua 12:34
As a CNO, on a regular basis, you are pretty much a main contact. All the decision making is actually on myself. Any critical thinking based on my nurses, house supervisors, even on different departments, the decision is based on me as a final say.

Joe Gaccione 12:51
Do you have a hand in recruiting new nurses or is that for a different department?

Marian Pascua 12:55
I do have a hand in recruiting nurses. In the last month I've been here as an interim, I've been hiring a lot of nurses from the community.

Joe Gaccione 13:04
What do you look for when you bring in a new nurse?

Marian Pascua 13:07
I look for passion. Passion for the specialty, especially for psych, because psychiatric is such a diverse specialty, you know, to understand the illness as well. And for nursing, I also find nurses who are reliable, a team player, and someone who can communicate during crisis.

Joe Gaccione 13:26
Do you sit in on the interviews when new nurses are coming in?

Marian Pascua 13:28
Yes. I sit in the interviews. I actually conduct the interviews myself and I also do orientation, as a, a second assist now, but that's pretty much my focus ever since I've been at Seven Hills.

Joe Gaccione 13:39
When it comes to the interview process, what are some common dos and don'ts for nurses who are interviewing? What are some things they should really focus on doing, but also try to avoid?

Marian Pascua 13:50
During an interview, the first thing is first impressions. You know, seeing how they dress is kind of like the first do. Don't is pretty much not talking about their personal life too much. I've seen that. I've also seen nurses who are not dressed appropriately. They don't have much to say. So, those are my don'ts. For do, if they ask me questions after the end, I think that's great. Dos as well is having them research about us prior to coming in. And I think don't should also be the pay rate. I think asking that first thing, and I ask them, “Do you have any questions?” The first thing they do ask me is pay rate. And that's a big no, for me.

Joe Gaccione 14:32
Obviously there's been talk of, of nursing shortages, not just here, but across the country. I've talked to other CNOs that have argued that people assume, new nurses that are applying assume that because there's a shortage, they're gonna get in, so they don't put as much effort into the interview process because it's like an overconfidence thing. Have you found that?

Marian Pascua 14:51
Yes. I found during my interview process a lot of our nurses are coming with backgrounds of med-surg under, thinking that they will put their med-surg experience in psych. And I've seen them feeling overconfident, like, “I'm gonna get the job,” but I think it's more the passion, too, you know, for that specialty. So I've seen the shortage. I've seen just nurses who just want to get a job also for the price. I see a lot of jumping around, you know, or they'll test the waters. So, you know, they try to have an interview with a competitor and compare me and another competitor. So, I've seen that trend ever since I've came into this position.

Joe Gaccione 15:33
How do you, how do you determine that when you say test the waters? Like, how do you, do they mention that they've interviewed at other places or that's just on their resume that they've been at other areas?

Marian Pascua 15:42
Both. So, I've seen on the resume, you know, they have, they don't stay too long.
When I ask, you know, “During COVID, I see that you are in this hospital for one year or six months,” and they'll tell me it's because of COVID pay. You know, they also are traveling nurses, as well. So, they are trying to still look for that travel gig and the travel price. For in-person interview, they would tell me, you know, “I have another job at a competitor,” or they'll call me back after the interview and say, “I already took the other competitor's job position and thank you for the interview.”

Joe Gaccione 16:17
You mentioned passion before, and I know this is a totally subjective question, but how do you measure passion? What do you see as a, as a sign for that?

Marian Pascua 16:25
I believe a passion for the career or the specialty you're gonna go into for nursing, period, is you're doing it for the patient. I've seen nurses who put away the dollar sign and you know, are very committed to caring for the patient. And I also see nurses who has a passion for nursing, that patients come first and the care that they provide really reflects who they are. And it matches to what they told me in interviews and how they present themselves on the floor. I've seen nurses who say they have the passion, but you know, you see them on the floor, they're not performing as, as well as they talked about.

Joe Gaccione 17:04
It has to be tough during an interview because you can only go by their word and you can only go by what they’re, what they're saying and how they appear, but you take a chance and once they come in, you're either gonna get that person or you're gonna get someone different.

Marian Pascua 17:18
I can tell you, based on my experience I've had in the last three months, majority of them has showed their passion and you know, their understanding about psych. Maybe a few percentage that I've seen that never presented really well on interviews, but when they started as a, as a nurse with us after orientation is a whole different person, So, majority of them actually do have that passion.

Joe Gaccione 17:41
Whether you're a registered nurse or you start moving up the ranks like a CNO, networking has to be a huge part of what you do. What are your tips for networking? What do you see as the best way to connect with people? Are there big things? Are they just small things?

Marian Pascua 17:55
I think networking, rather as a nurse, we're such a small valley, that networking is important. We don't realize that everybody knows everybody here. And my advice is, for networking, is make sure that you, you are in good terms with everybody. You know, at one point you're gonna cross path with another person that you've known from before and seen maybe there was a bad experience. I've seen them like burning bridges. So, if you're gonna connect, make sure that the bridges is okay. Don't burn it, is what I, I tell everybody.

Joe Gaccione 18:30
I think people sometimes misunderstand Las Vegas. They think because it's a big name, it's a big city, and Vegas is certainly big, but it's definitely not the biggest city in the world. It's like a big small city.

Marian Pascua 18:40
I agree. I tell everybody, especially like my students and all my workers, you know, “I'll see you in the future.” if they tend to leave me for another job or if, as a student, I'll see, I usually tell them, “One day, I'll be your boss.” And I've come across a lot of people. So, Vegas is pretty small and especially in nursing, we're such a small valley too, so we know each other in the medical field.

Joe Gaccione 19:03
And also here, and this may be true for other areas, even though we have a lot of different facilities and hospitals, the majority of them are also owned by the same company. So, you might bounce around, but you could be bouncing around potentially within HCA, for example or Intermountain Healthcare and not know it.

Marian Pascua 19:21
Yes. Even though like, right from Seven Hills, I've seen other faces in Southern Hills. You know, it's just a, such a small area, small town. And also, if you're once a transporter, you're gonna see them in another facility. So, you know, going back to the connections, I think keeping the connections positive and lifelong and just remembering faces is pretty much what I say about networking.

Joe Gaccione 19:44
What was the biggest life lesson you learned when it came to making your own path as a young nurse?

Marian Pascua 19:50
I think what brought me to where I am now is, you know, as a new grad back in 2009 and 2010, that's our recession time and we, we weren't blessed to have jobs available at that time. We took, I took whatever job was out there and it happened to be a nursing home. And I took that experience because it wasn't a great experience, but I took that as a learning experience and brought it along with me throughout my career. And what made me become a leader and also an educator, I learn from my mistakes and I learn from other mistakes and other leaders and mold it into something that I can pay it forward for future nurses. I don't want them to be in the same spot as I was when I was a new grad. So, my vision for new nurses and the future nurses is, you know, if I learn this, I wanna, I want you to learn it too and bring it forward to the next generation. Learn the right ways is what I tell them.

Joe Gaccione 20:44
Well, Marion. That is all we've got. Thank you very much for taking the time to come in today.

Marian Pascua 20:47
Thank you so much.

Joe Gaccione 20:48
When this episode drops, we will have information for Seven Hills on our website, on this episode's website, so people can find out more about the facility. Thanks for listening, everybody. Have a great day.