StaffGarden Interviews: Brenda Duong

by: Mike Aliter

Earlier this year, StaffGarden partnered with Nurse Beth and held a contest to send 2 nurses to NTI in New Orleans. Brenda Duong won this contest and we couldn’t be more excited for her! This Hawaii based nurse has just started her 1st job and is loving every second of it.

We sat down with Brenda before her trip and asked her a few questions. This up and coming nurse shared some great advice on getting your 1st job as a nurse, some smart ways to use StaffGarden, and her journey from ‘student’ to ‘professional’ nurse.

Mike Altier: Thanks so much Brenda for using StaffGarden and congratulations for winning our NTI contest! Tell us a little bit about why you wanted to become a nurse.

Brenda Duong: I was always interested in the medical field since high school, but I didn’t really know what I wanted to pursue. Then someone very close to me became depressed and suicidal, it was very hard and it came to a point of where this person handed me a knife and asked me to take their life. That moment was very scary, but reflecting back on that moment, having that knife in my hand, it made me realize how powerful your hands can be and I knew I wanted to use my hands to help people. Nursing is a very hands-on profession where we deliver care at bedside and I knew that this is what I wanted to do with my life.

MA: How would you describe your experience from nursing school to professional nurse?

BD: My experience from nursing school to professional nurse has been an everlasting journey.

My nursing school experience was amazing and very opportunistic. I feel very blessed to have had the opportunities that I’ve had and I feel more well-rounded as a new nurse now because of it. I use to consider myself as a timid person and even though I knew I wanted to spend my life helping people as a nurse, I knew it would mean I would have to come out of my shell and become more a more confident person and my nursing school journey really helped me with that. Now transitioning to becoming an actual RN is a journey in itself. It has been exciting, but also challenging. Getting my nursing license was the greatest feeling in the world. It felt validating and official, that I am now an RN. The challenging part was finding my first RN job. It was hard to decide what I wanted to do, where I wanted to start, etc.

After job hunting I’m now working as a new grad RN on a Bone Marrow Transplant/Oncology unit at the University of Washington Medical Center and I’m really enjoying it. I think the part I find challenging, but also enjoyable and exciting about being a nurse is accountability. As a student nurse I was use to having to care for patients under a nurse preceptor or my professors and now I’m accountable for my own patients.

“…reflecting back on that moment, having that knife in my hand, it made me realize how powerful your hands can be.”

MA: Do you have any advice for your fellow nurses out there that are currently looking for their 1st job?

BD: I think the best advice I can give is don’t give up and keep being proactive. I think it’s especially hard when you’re a new grad RN who’s interested in a lot of different specialities and fields. There are opportunities everywhere and I can tell you it will be a very challenging, but also very rewarding journey to find that right opportunity that fits you.

MA: How did you hear about our NTI Ticket + Hotel giveaway?

BD: When I was job hunting as a New Grad, I was looking for jobs and residency programs on the west coast. I joined the New Grad California group page on Facebook where Nurse Beth would post helpful blogs and tips for the new grad RN members. One of her posts was a post to promote this contest and so that is when I decided to enter.

MA: There are a ton of reasons why 1000’s of nurses attend NTI every year. Why is it important for you to attend this year?

BD: As I mentioned, as a student nurse I was part of the student board with HIC-AACN. I had been a part of planning several symposiums where we invited local and national speakers to come educate our critical care nurses and I always have an enjoyable experience being able to meet and learn from all of these knowledgeable speakers. While serving on the board, I would hear my mentors and other critical care nurses talk about their experience with NTI and they made it sound so awesome. From this it has always been a goal of mine to someday be able to save enough money to go and now for this opportunity to come where I can actually go, I feel like it’s so unbelievable and such a blessing! 🙂

MA: You previously mentioned that your chapter is receiving an award, What award is that?

BD: Yes we are actually accepting two awards! And from what I’ve heard, I believe it’s the first two awards the Hawaii local chapter has ever won! Our two awards are the AACN Circle of Excellence Awards for Excellence in Chapter Community Education and

Follow Brenda and her NTI journey on StaffGarden's Snapchat! Username: staffgarden

Follow Brenda and her NTI journey on StaffGarden’s Snapchat!
Username: staffgarden

Public Service and AACN Circle of Excellence Awards for Excellence in Chapter Collaboration. We as a chapter are very grateful for these awards.

MA:That’s amazing, sounds like it means a lot to you.

BD: Growing up in Hawaii, it’s very community-oriented place and that’s what I really valued about growing up there. Part of what we wanted to do as a chapter is to give back to our community as nurses. For example, we really wanted to promote hands-on CPR training and education and so we had teamed up with girl scout organizations and elementary schools to teach kids early on about the importance of hands-on CPR and how and when to perform it. We also wanted to contribute to nursing education and teamed up with nursing schools to create this event called Crisis Management Boot Camp where we presented several crisis scenarios and guide nursing students through them with hands-on learning and real-life clinical scenarios. It means a lot to us for being awarded the AACN Circle of Excellence Awards for Excellence in Chapter Community Education and Public Service and I know that my chapter will continue their efforts in giving back to the community.

I first joined as a student and what I really appreciate and valued about being part of this local chapter is that they were so welcoming to new members. Even though I was a nursing student, they made me feel like what I had to say was being valued and acknowledged. Me and a couple of other nursing students were actually able to participate in planning conferences with the board members and after graduating, I decided I wanted to stay involved with the board as a secretary-elect. I think what really helped our team work and collaborate well together was that even though we all had a busy schedule with work and with life, we were able to communicate and we were all there for one another. Although I had moved to Washington to start my RN career, I will always have a special place in my heart for this chapter and for this team. Being awarded the AACN Circle of Excellence Awards for Excellence in Chapter Collaboration is a great honor and I’m proud to have been a part of this awesome team.

MA: Amazing story! Congratulations to you and your whole chapter! What are you most looking forward to doing during the conference?

BD: I’m definitely looking forward to going to the classes, networking with people from all over, and just taking in the whole NTI experience that I’ve heard so much about. I’m also looking forward to meeting the staff at StaffGarden and Nurse Beth and to thank them in person for this wonderful opportunity. The part that I’m really looking forward to the most would have to be being reunited with my local chapter members again from Hawaii and being able to celebrate together.


MA: So what do you think about StaffGarden tools for nurses? .. please be honest =)

BD: I think StaffGarden’s ePortfolio tool is a great and easy way for me to keep my resume up to date. I’ve had countless files and drafts of my resumes to where it’s hard to keep track of which one is current. One of the unique and helpful functions that I like about this tool is the expiration notification function to help manage all of your certifications and licenses that has been out-of-date.

MA: Very glad to hear it! Any parting words about StaffGarden to your fellow nurses out there?

BD: Yes I absolutely would recommend this tool to all nurses. Technology plays a big part in today’s culture and having that option to have an ePortfolio of your resume for potential employers I think is helpful. In addition, I think this is an especially great resume tool for those who are new graduate RNs starting their job hunt. It helps with generating an efficient, clear-cut resume, making it easily prepared and accessible for new grad RNs to download, print, and bring to their job interviews.

If you would like to follow Brenda on her journey – check out our Snapchat! Brenda will be taking over our snapchat throughout the entire NTI conference. You can also get updates on everything NTI on our Facebook and Twitter pages!


Mike Altier

Mike Altier

Director, Digital Content

Enjoys his coffee with cream. Loves his bagels toasted. Mike is dedicated to developing content that is relevant to the nursing community. Contact at

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