Nurse Podcast

Episode 2. Introduction to The Ambitious Nurse Podcast

What You Will Learn In This Episode:

Introduction to The Ambitious Nurse Podcast.

Who is this podcaster? What is this podcast really about? These are the questions I will answer in this show. I have a wide variety of experience in the nursing field, which tells why I speak on this topic and what the Ambitious Nurse Podcast is all about. In this episode, I speak on my passion for nursing and my desire to help experienced nurses grow in nursing or take on a broader healthcare career. 

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Bonnie Meadows MSN, APRN, ACCNS-AG

 Want to blaze a trail in your career? Download my FREE Nursing Growth Starter Guide at


Episode 2. Introduction to The Ambitious Nurse Podcast

Welcome to The Ambitious Nurse Podcast where I provide tips, tools and resources for the experienced nurse to put in your career bag to help you be a better person, a better leader, a better professional, and most of all, a better nurse. I’m your host, Bonnie Meadows, a career coach, and a clinical nurse specialist with over 18 years of experience in Health Care and Nursing. It’s my passion to help experienced nurses develop their careers to impact healthcare and their communities.

Hello again, in this episode, I want to give you a little taste of what The Ambitious Nurse is all about. I’m going to start off with telling you a little bit more about myself. Who is this person who has started this podcast, and go into some detail about what the podcast is all about and what you should expect. I’ll start with my journey as a nurse. I am a Clinical Nurse Specialist. A Clinical Nurse Specialist is a part of the Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Group. We are in the group with Nurse Practitioners, Certified Nurse Midwives, CRNA’s, and then we are the fourth group as Clinical Nurse Specialist.

The difference between us

and all of the other groups is that we focus on populations. I have a population focus of Cardiac Surgery. I have been in the specialty of Cardiac Surgery for over 15 years. Some of it at the bedside, some of it not at the bedside, but have always pretty much been connected to Cardiac Surgery in my time of nursing except for probably one year. So I guess you would really say about 17 years I’ve been in the specialty of Cardiac Surgery. I do know some Cardiology and I’ve been an educator over both a CCU and a CTICU. So that’s where a lot of my clinical background stands.

I’ve been a nurse for 18 years.

I spent about eight years at the bedside, five years in areas such as Case Management, Risk Management, Quality Improvement, Nurse Educator and now a Clinical Nurse Specialist. I’ve been as Clinical Nurse Specialist for the last two and a half years. My specialty, as I said before is Cardiac Surgery, but specifically Cardiac Surgery, Critical Care. I came out of school in 2004. I started out on a Step Down Unit. It was Cardiac Surgery Step Down.

I always say Cardiac Surgery chose me. I actually did not choose it. I didn’t walk in the door saying, “I want to be a Cardiac Surgery Nurse.” This position just kind of opened up for me. I felt like this was the worst interview that I actually had. I’d come into the interview. And I’d already interviewed at five other places. I was a Nurse Aide at a different hospital and decided to do some interviews at the hospital that I did my clinicals.

In this particular interview, the nurse manager

asked me the one question that none of the five other people asked me, which was, “Tell me about yourself.” And I froze. In my mind I thought, “You have my resume. Why would you not know about me?” However, that was a lesson learned. That was the beginning of many lessons learned within my nursing career about interviewing, and being prepared and all of the other things.

So again, I pride myself in being a Cardiac Surgery Critical Care Nurse. And specifically I’m just gonna say, I pride myself in being probably one of the few black nurses who is in Cardiac Surgery Critical Care. There’s a small group of us, and then you expand out to Cardiovascular and that is the same thing. I work for a large system. And I know a lot of the people in Cardiac Surgery and in the Cardiovascular space. So I know Nurse Practitioners in other areas, such as Heart Failure, and EP and all of the other areas that Cardiac encompasses. And I know that there’s very few of us. But I’m very thankful for this career as a Cardiac Surgery Nurse.

My other experience includes being a leader as a nurse.

I’ve been a Charge Nurse. I’ve been a Preceptor. I’ve been in leadership roles: Case Manager, Events Practitioners, Project Leader. So I really pride myself on being in a lot of leadership roles. Although I may not have been a manager at any point in my career. And that’s fine with me. That was someplace that I had to kind of settle in and be proud of, because it’s actually not a bad thing. There are so many unique characteristics that I’ve learned just by being a leader.

My education background is that I went to school at Queen’s University of Charlotte. I’m in the North Carolina area. And I got my Bachelors of Science in Nursing. A few years later, I went back and got my Master’s Degree. And it is in Health Systems Management, which is now the new word for Nursing Administration. I was able to take some MBA classes within that. And it was actually before they created the structure where all nurses with a Master’s Degree had to take Advanced Pathophysiology, Advanced Pharmacology, etc. Especially if you were in the Advanced Practice realm. From there I went back and got my Postmasters Certificate as a CNS.

I’m gonna tell you, I love school. I love learning.

I think that everyone should find ways to learn. I don’t push people to go back to school. But one thing I tell everyone is that going back to school and getting a higher degree opens up more doors, and provides you more options. That is my soapbox. You will continue to hear me say that. I don’t push people to do it. Because there are other ways to learn. You can go back and get certifications. But find ways to create more options for you so that you don’t feel like you’re in a box as a nurse and in your career.

I’m a member of several professional organizations

such as the American Nurses Association, the North Carolina Nurses Association (where I am on the Board of Directors), the American Association of Critical Care Nurses (were in my local chapter I’m on the board). I am an inductee into the Nursing Honor Society of Sigma Theta Tau, and have been a part of our Statewide Leadership Academy. So I’ve completed that program. Also, I’ve done podium presentations and poster presentations in various places such as our State Nursing Association, and at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement. All of that and more position me to come into the realm of career coaching.

All throughout my career, and pretty much about the second half of my career, people just started to see how I began to gather this resourcefulness about me because I had been in so many other areas of nursing. And it hit prepared me for becoming a Career Coach. And so on a weekly, every two week basis, someone’s coming to me within my area, within my system, within whatever, and they’re saying, “Hey, I want to do something different.” “Hey, I don’t really know what I want to do.” Or, “Hey, let me talk to you about this work situation.” Or, “Hey, can you do a mock interview with me?”

So I just grabbed a hold of it.

I had a conversation with a past president of the American Nurses Association, when I was a part of the Leadership Academy for my State Association. And the one thing she told me was, “When you see certain things happening, and when people tap you on your shoulder and say, ‘Why don’t you think about’, or when you start to see patterns in your life, you need to take a hold of that and take advantage of it.” So now I’m walking into this calling of Career Coaching as it’s what I do on a regular basis. Within that, I’ve pivoted several times in my career. There was a time where I was applying to go to medical school, and it was my plan to go to medical school. And that didn’t work out. And I thought to myself, “You know what, I’m going to make the best of my nursing career.” Although nursing is my passion right now, it was not always that way. And I had to go through my own journey to get to this place. I found myself in making it to my dream job. I always wanted to be in quality improvement. I learned a lot about it when I was at the bedside at Cardiac Surgery Critical Care. And I began to just really take a hold of it. I love processes.

I love policies.

I love just all of those things. And I decided that I wanted to try to get a job as that. I thought it was just one of the most fascinating things.

And I got into that dream job. And that was my first time encountering bullying and not getting the support that I needed from a manager in order to do my job well. So that was a rough road.

And because of that experience, I’ve been able to coach other people through dealing with managers that don’t necessarily support you and people who are bullying you and bad orientation situations. Again, I don’t blame other people necessarily. I know that I always have my part in things but this situation I pretty much no wasn’t set up well. I’ll tell you more about that later in another podcast. And the other piece to it is almost quit nursing school. That’s a whole nother story for another day. But these are just a little pivots in my career that positioned me to become a career coach.

So the the uniqueness about me

is that I’ve been in roles where I was a leader sitting at the table with Senior Vice Presidents, Executive Vice Presidents, and Chief Medical Officers, and Chief Nursing Executives giving them direction on what to do in a patient’s situation or providing my opinion. And that has garnered me influence in all areas of where I work. I like to teach nurses and empower nurses to be influential and to have influence. I like to teach them how to be the ultimate and consummate professionals.

That is the uniqueness about me. Although I may not have ever been a manager, I’ve been a leader. And I’m always seen as a leader. I lead lots of projects in my current role, and having the experience of leading those meetings with executive leaders and having conversations with nurse managers, They see me as colleagues, that is why I pursue this role of Career Coaching to help other nurses, to help elevate the nursing profession. That is my goal.

That is why I call this The Ambitious Nurse Podcast.

I want to focus on providing the need for the nurses out there who are ambitious. Because I’m ambitious. I’ve always been ambitious. And sometimes you have that low because you don’t know what you want to do. And I will say don’t block yourself off just because maybe you’ve had children, or a lot of times it’s the nurses who’ve had children, or you are single, but you still don’t know what you want to do.

Or you’ve had kids. They’re of age, and now you’re like, “Okay, now it’s time to do a little something for myself”. Or you have children currently. And they’re littles but you still want to do just that little bit for you. I am here to be the support for that ambitious nurse. Because again, I’m that ambitious nurse. I’ve always been that ambitious nurse. Brother, I was on the track to try to go to medical school. Whether I was on track to try to work my way up in health care. Whether it was thinking about expanding beyond where I work. I’m always thinking of, “How can I better myself? How can I impact more people in regards to more nurses? And how does that reflect in the community and in the patients that we serve?”

So I want to give you tips on how to grow in the profession.

Like I said, I have conversations with nurses all the time about how to navigate career decisions. And I want to be able to help you to do the same. I want to give my take on nursing as a profession. I just like to be able to give some thoughts on how I have navigated conversations with other nurses who are colleagues of mine and just give you a peek into things that we’ve talked about. I want to share my career experiences and my leadership journey.

And hopefully it will help someone else to navigate whatever it is that they may be going through at this point in time. I want to open up the door for other people to share their career experiences also. I want to provide tips on being a professional because I am the consummate professional. And also the other reason why I want to start this podcast is to provide that leadership guidance.

I’ve been in a leadership role

ever since my sophomore year of high school with cheerleading and being in the Air Force Junior ROTC. I was one of the first colonels in the Air Force Junior ROTC. I was captain of my cheerleading squad and then my leadership ability carried on into college where I was the President of the Gospel Choir and a few other organizations, including the board of our student Nursing Association. And then it carried on went into a couple of leadership positions and things within nursing that I’ve already told you about.

So I love leadership, and many times we talk of leadership, but everybody doesn’t walk the walk of leadership. And I want to help people walk the walk of leadership and be real as leaders. Be honest. Most of all, I want to help you to understand your value as a nurse and help you put forth the gifts and talents that God has given you for the profession. I want to help you walk out your calling.

We’re all called to be nurses.

But once we get here, the question is what else are we doing while we’re here? And even if you are a nurse who wants to stay at the bedside, like you don’t want to leave the bedside. I’m not asking you to leave the bedside. But you can still increase the value of nursing while you’re there at the bedside. Can still do that. And I want to show you.

So the name of this podcast came about because I am an ambitious nurse. And we talked about this a little bit earlier. The Ambitious Nurse, though, is founded on the framework of my business, Professional Ascension. Professional Ascension is career coaching and mentoring for the experienced nurse. I felt like in my career as an educator and as a Clinical Nurse Specialist, in this time, we spend so much time focusing on the new nurse.

And yes, we want to get new nurses into the profession. But I always think “Well, what are we doing about the experienced nurse? The nurse who we already have? What are we doing for them? How are we helping them to elevate and to level up?” And that’s why I always want my focus to be on the experienced nurse.

If a new nurses listening to this podcast, welcome.

But my focus is going to be on the experienced nurse. And within that I work through a framework of discovering what you want to do. So it’s discover, it’s explore, it set goals, and it’s take action. Discover. Dig down deep. What you really want to do. Let’s use some self awareness techniques. Let’s think about what your brand is, and all those things.

And then we begin to explore and with exploration, we go into what’s available out there. What does the nursing landscape look like? What can I do in the future? How do I prepare myself now for where I want to go in the future. And setting goals, it’s exactly what it is. But nurses don’t necessarily know how to do that.

I remember we’d hired a new nurse manager in our CCU. She was one of those people who elevates the nursing practice. And I love people like that. She challenged. She challenges people just in a professional way. But one of the things she said was I want people to start setting goals. SMART goals. And one of the nurses said, “What is that?” Not a bad question. Not a bad question at all.

But it’s not conversations that we have at the bedside as nurses.

It’s just not. Those are not conversations that we necessarily have in our Bachelor’s Degree programs. We may have them in our Master’s Degree programs. We’re definitely not really having them in our Bachelor’s Degree programs or our Associate programs. So setting goals, what does that look like? How does it help you to move forward? What steps do we need to take in setting those goals?

And then here’s where the ascension comes in. Professional Ascension. Taking action. You can only ascend when you take action. Most of my conversations will be focused on that. And you’ll hear a little bit more about that framework in the next episode.

So lastly, what can you expect from this podcast?

This podcast is going to be encouragement. A little bit of laughs. I do feel like I have a good sense of humor. At least most people laugh at my jokes. Tough love. I’ve given you just a little bit of that today. Interviews and great content. It’s about lightening the load and getting a positive perspective when things seem heavy in Health Care and in nursing. It’s also a peek into my conversations with clients and colleagues. And I want to share them with you.

What this podcast is not. It is not about belittling the nursing profession. That’s not what you’ll hear from me. And talking about what’s wrong with nursing. And even if I touch into what’s wrong with nursing, you can best believe I’m providing a solution. Or my call to action to you is, “What do you think is the solution?” Because I believe we know what needs to be done. But we deal with so much murkiness and politics and we make things harder than it really has to be. So I want to talk about that.

It’s not about me sharing my Christian views.

Now, I’m just going to go ahead and lay this out there early. I am a Christian and I am guided by Christian principles. But I’m not here to push my Christian views. The advice you get from me, though, is from a Christian perspective. But I am not about pushing people to do what they don’t feel is right for them to do. That’s not what I’m here for. I’m here to elevate the nurse. To increase the value of the nurse. To provide support to that ambitious nurse. That is what I’m here to do. I want you to feel welcomed, to feel comfortable, to focus on becoming a better nurse, a better professional, and a better you.

And lastly, I am a black nurse, but I won’t be talking about things concerning black power and all the things against minorities. I recognize that I’m a black nurse. I am proud of that. But again, that is not what this conversation is focused on. Will I touch on those things regarding minority nurses? More than likely. But again, I’m always going to give you a positive spin on it, or I’m just gonna give you some things to think about.

And that’s it. I wanted to just go ahead and clear all of those elephants out of the room. So, you know, from all of that, that I’m gonna be real, and I’m going to be focused on giving you the realness. From here, just make sure that you continue to follow as we go along in this podcast. I look forward to hearing from you and seeing you on a bi-weekly basis.

Thanks for joining us this week on The Ambitious Nurse Podcast.

To review the show notes and any links mentioned in today’s episode, please go to The Ambitious Nurse Podcast ( If you enjoyed this conversation, follow or subscribe so you don’t miss a future episode. Also, please consider leaving a rating, review and or comment about what you want to hear. This helps more nurses just like you find this podcast.

Thank you for joining me, Bonnie Meadows on The Ambitious Nurse Podcast. I look forward to chatting with you the next time. And remember, you don’t have to grow your career alone. As iron sharpens iron, One person sharpens another; thank you for letting me sharpen you as you take this knowledge to sharpen the next.

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