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Careers in Health Care

Viral TikToker Nurse John Shares His Experience and Top Tips for New Nurses

John Dela Cruz entered the nursing profession in the midst of the pandemic and turned to TikTok to share his challenges and frustrations. Mediaplanet chatted with him about pursuing a career in health care, his advice for incoming nurses, and more.

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What inspired you to pursue nursing?

What inspired me to pursue nursing was my grandfather, who was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer and Alzheimer’s disease back in 2009. It was a tough time for my family, seeing him suffer and go through chemotherapy sessions. I was unable to do anything to alleviate his pain and suffering. Doctors had given him six months to live, and my family and I were in complete shock. We all decided to really focus on taking care of him, and from a diagnosis of six months, he lived for another two years. When he died in 2012, I decided that I wanted to do something in my life where I could take care of another human being and gain an understanding of how to properly care for someone in different situations, as it would give me the chance to feel like I was still taking care of my grandfather. Nursing was the first and only profession that crossed my mind. 

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How did you start your career as a social media influencer in the health care space?

It was an accidental fame. It started during the pandemic. I had just graduated nursing school and started working as a nurse. It was rough coming out of nursing school and starting work right away, and what made it more difficult was COVID and the restrictions and day-to-day changes in care and operations, all of which gave me so much anxiety and stress. I wanted someone to understand what I was going through as a brand new nurse, although I did have supportive colleagues. TikTok had started gaining popularity — it used to be a dancing app and was slowly turning into more of a platform for content, skits, and informative videos. There was one video of a random guy asking if someone could tell him a profession that was underpaid, undervalued, and underappreciated, and I stitched the video and filmed myself standing in front of the camera with my badge that said “RN,” which is “Registered Nurse.” I actually didn’t mean to post it at all — it was accidentally posted, and the next day my family and friends asked me if I’d seen that my video had gone viral. I was shocked, first of all that the video had been posted and secondly that it went viral. I figured it was a one-hit wonder kind of fame, but after about five months, I tried posting a video intentionally. My second, third, fourth, and fifth videos all went viral too, and now here I am with a big influence in the health care space, sharing the realities of what health care workers and nurses really go through and helping others to feel heard and less alone. 

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Do you have any advice for incoming nurses?

My advice for incoming nurses is to take your time after nursing school. Have a break, enjoy your life, travel, learn, and embody self-love and self-care before you actually start working as a nurse, because the job isn’t the same as what you’ve read, learned, and heard from nursing school. It’s more than just the word “nursing” — there are a whole lot of other responsibilities that come with it, and when you have lives in your hands, nothing is more important than to heal, protect, and advocate for those lives — but what I’ve learned from working as a nurse is that as much as this job requires us to take care of and prioritize others, we first need to learn to take care of ourselves, to prioritize ourselves, and to be able to develop the ability to stand up for what we think is right for our physical, mental, and emotional health. 

The state of our health care system will drain you, but what can keep you afloat are self-love, self-care, and self-worth. You are more than your job. 

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What has been the most rewarding aspect of working in health care?

One of the most rewarding aspects of working in health care and one of the best things about working as a nurse is seeing sick patients get better under my care. When I’m able to bring a patient back home to a state where they can function again and get back on their feet, it’s so rewarding for me. It gives me the reassurance that I did my job and that I did my best. Lastly, the gratefulness that patients show me — even a thank you — makes a lot of difference and makes me feel like I’m doing a great job as a nurse. 

Find Nurse John on Tiktok at nurse.johnn.

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