Congratulations! You made it through all your years of nursing school and have the degree to show for it. You’ve learned how to collect a patient’s medical history. You’ve refined the art of giving shots of medication. It's time to find a job!
But are you ready? Of course, you are! You've sat through countless of hours of lectures and learned the fundamentals of nursing. Then you learned what you really needed in your clinical internship.
Finally, you mastered the National Licensure Examination(NCLEX). Now you’re ready to work as a nurse. But, now that you’re a licensed nurse, you may have already found out that the field for new nurses is competitive. Nearly 30% of new nurses still haven’t found a job three months after they leave school.
While there is a high demand for nurses, it is much harder for a new nursing graduate to secure a position than it is for an experienced nurse to. This is especially the case in acute care settings and hospitals.
Given the fact that most nursing graduates desire to work in acute care, this can be a problem when it comes to applying for the job.
Some fields are easier to get into than acute care and other fields where there is a lot of competition. And what you want is to just be able to say you have relevant experience in the patient setting.
You want a job that will be in an environment that will offer the same skill set that you need in your goal job. This will allow for personal growth and development and be an ace on your resume.
OUTLOOK IMPROVING FOR NEW NURSES
There’s has long been a misconception that there is a nursing shortage. While there is a nursing shortage in certain areas, like acute care, the door is wide open in others. Also, the areas which are experiencing shortages are expected to soon disappear.
The job outlook for registered nurses is expected to increase by 16% through the year 2024.
It is important to keep in mind that more than 40% of hospitals and healthcare facilities require new hires to have a bachelor’s degree in nursing or higher. Registered nurses have a much better chance of finding a job than those with only associate’s degrees or LPNs.
But, things are improving on the horizon for nursing students. This is due to a couple of factors. The first is that many of our older nurses will soon be retiring. Because older nurses make up 40% of the nursing population, this will leave a lot of vacancies which can only be filled by new nurse hires.
The second thing is that Obamacare has allowed more people to have medical coverage than ever. Of course, what this translates to is there will be more people who will find their way to medical care. It is predicted that there will be an increased need of 28,000 RNs due to Obamacare by the year 2025.
HCA, one of the largest hospital and surgical centers in the US, has recently seen an increase in hiring of new recruits of nearly 30% from previous years.
So now that I’ve hopefully encouraged you about the job market in nursing, let’s talk about how to get hired.
RAMP UP YOUR CHANCE FOR GETTING HIRED
- Expand your horizons: As we discussed, most new recruits want to go straight to acute care in the hospital. Depending on the region you live in, it may be harder to get a job as a new recruit in acute care. What you want to do is consider other jobs. It may not be what you ultimately want, but it’s a foot in the door to being able to say you have experience later on. We’ll talk more in a little bit about the kind of places that are nearly always on the lookout for new recruits. Another option is to find out if there are other cities where they are hiring new recruits in the acute care setting.
- Network: So, it isn’t unreasonable to say that especially in certain areas, it’s who you know that helps you get the job you want. This is why it isn’t unreasonable to do some serious networking. Most nurses who do ultimately land a job in acute care immediately either do so because of having an internship at the hospital before getting the job or know someone at the hospital. But if you don’t already know someone at the hospital, don’t worry. There are ways to get there. You can volunteer at the hospital you really desire to work at. Then when you’re there, strike conversations with people you come across to find out if they have connections or if you can use them for a referral. You’d be surprised at the power of networking.
- Start smaller: This really ties back to the first tip. You have to remember that if you want to work in acute care, this is like starting your job off with a promotion. It’s the highest you can go. The problem is the actual training for the job isn’t what you learned in school. It’s the actual clinical experience. You can get clinical experience outside of the hospital in psychiatric facilities, nursing homes, long-term care facilities, doctor’s offices, and other healthcare settings.
The takeaway with all this is that you just want experience in healthcare to up your chances of getting where you want to be in the end. Whatever you decide on as your first nursing job, make sure that it’s something you can be satisfied with for a year or two, so you can show dependability and commitment as well. These are the traits that employers look for in nurses.
Let’s talk about some of the best jobs for new nurses to help build the experience you need to get the job you really want later on.
LONG TERM CARE NURSING
Long term care nurses help patients who have a disability or are in need of extended care through illness or even old age. Many of these patients live in long-term care facilities, rehabilitation centers, or nursing homes.
Nurses assist patients with normal daily tasks like getting dressed and bathing, but they focus mostly on their health care needs. They help to monitor the patient’s health and educate the patient and their family on the medical condition of the patient.
Some patients in rehabilitation centers have trachs, are on ventilators, and other things that require intensive care on a daily basis. You would gain the same work experience that you would have on a medical or surgical floor of a hospital.
The situations are slightly less acute or emergent, but nonetheless tedious. Your experience in this field is important and carries on to bigger areas of nursing because it’s a job that requires multitasking, working in depth with patients, and requires a lot of independent working from you.
These are very relevant skills that are appreciated in nursing. They also show your commitment to your work. If you want the job, just give a good interview, show enthusiasm, and show that you have energy – something that is harder to find in experienced nurses.
Long term care registered nurses fresh out of school earn around $52,000 a year.
CLINICS AND DOCTOR’S OFFICES
There are plenty of doctor’s offices and clinics who hire nurses. These are great places for new nurses to start. Not only is there your basic physician’s office, there are urgent care centers, pain management clinics, clinics to help stroke victims and heart attack survivors, and others.
The important thing to remember here is that often these types of places won’t even advertise for help and seek word of mouth applicants or referrals. It’s a good idea to stop or call at these clinics to see if they have openings or leave a resume on file.
A registered nurse at a clinic or doctor’s office may start as low as $45,000 a year, but remember, it’s the experience you really want to show for.
HOME HEALTH NURSES
Home Health Nursing has so many advantages that in the end, you may decide that it’s where you want to stay. Unless you really crave intense crisis situations that you often find in the acute care setting, the relaxed pace of home health care may actually be refreshing.
As a home health care nurse, you would travel to patient’s homes or assisted living facilities and address patient needs. You would help and collaborate with the patient’s doctors to make diagnoses, give care including administering of medications, care for wounds, check machines that patients may rely on to maintain their health, and more.
You still work directly with patient care and the best thing is this is a 9 to 5 job with no shift work. But the salary is nearly competitive with new registered nurse salaries of those who work in acute care, about $55,000 to $60,000 a year.
Now that you have some ideas about which places are easiest to find jobs when you’re fresh out of nursing school, what are you waiting for? The sooner you get your foot in the door, the sooner you will have the job you’ve always wanted.
Whether it’s acute care, home health care, or another nursing position, your skills are important and valuable. Your desire to help others is to be admired and here’s wishing you success.
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