Every nurse out there can tell you what their first nursing job was, and I’m willing to put money on the fact that most can tell you about their very first shift. It’s such an exciting time in your life. You’ve worked so hard to get in and through nursing school, and that first job was the culmination of your dreams. However, in today’s modern day, landing that first job is tricky. There is a huge growing market of older nurses returning to the workforce after staying home with families for some years, and those new grads are up against some seriously stiff, and experienced, competition.
All is not hopeless though. If you’re dream is to deliver babies, or work in the ER, or take care of the elderly in and extended care facility, I can tell you this; where there is a will, there is a way.
I have been working in a hospital, in some capacity, since I was 20 years old and started direct patient care experience when I was 21. That gave me quite the leg up on my peers when I went into nursing school at the age of 24. I can’t tell you how many conversations I had with my peers that was about working in some form, any department you can, in a hospital while in school. I heard the same thing from all of them- “I just want to focus on school right now”. Well, graduation time came, and of the 30 of us that graduated in my class, only two of us got a job in a hospital; myself who worked during nursing school as a nursing tech on a medical ICU floor, and another young lady who also worked as an aid in a hospital. Hospitals hire from within. Even if the job isn’t in direct patient care, like housekeeping or delivering dinner trays, hospitals always hire within. I encourage anyone who is in school, no matter how far off they are from graduation, if their goal is to work in a hospital after graduation, get a jump on it now. I graduated five years ago. Of that graduating class of 30, there are three of us who now work in a hospital. You need to jump on it, because there are a lot of new grads out there who want that job delivering babies or working in the ER just as badly as you do. Get a jump on them.
So what can you do if you’re done with school, taken boards, but still haven’t been able to land that job yet? The first thing you need to di is tell yourself to not give up, keep going, keep trying. There is a job for you out there. Next, you need to expand your market. OK, so you’ve always dreamed of delivering babies, but starting on a Tele unit or working on the Med/Surg floor offers excellent experience. And remember, hospitals hire within. If you can get a years of experience working on that Tele floor and an OB job opens up, they look within before they look elsewhere. It’s best to have the mindset “I will go where I am needed” than to be unemployed.
Interviewing for your first job isn’t easy either- it’s daunting. My manager once told me for every one position she posts, she’ll have 50 applicants in a week, and she’ll interview five. It’s your time to shine in your interview. If you thought this was the time and place to talk about your nursing school GPA, think again. I’m sorry to say it, but proud moments of bragging of how well you did for school is for your Thanksgiving dinner, not your interview. Your potential boss needs to see you standing apart for those other applicants. You should spend some good time preparing for this. Practice with your family. Above all, be memorable. When you end your interview, ask for the job. Be bold, be brave. Say something along the lines of “I know this is a good fit for me, and I know I can add something to the team that is already in place. I want this position” Another show-them-how-much-you-want-the-job tactic I like to suggest, is at the very end, when your potential boss says “do you have any questions?” say “yes, could I have a tour of the unit?” I am willing to bet you will set yourself apart from the others, and show them how badly you want to work in that unit.
I would also recommend reaching out to anyone you know that is a nurse currently working. Ask them if you can shadow them at work. They’ll have to gain permission from their manager, but almost always the answer will be yes. You’re gaining exposure, and you’ll have the opportunity to meet with potential unit managers, and you’ll be able to make face to face connections. That way, if your name comes across their desk, they already know who you are.
That great, wonderful first nursing job is out there for everyone. I suggest you open your horizons and be open to any opportunity that is made available to you. Live by the motto “I will go where I am needed rather than be unemployed” find happiness and contentedness in this as well. I can promise you one thing, everyday you nurse, you’re helping to heal and to comfort. That patient will truly be grateful to you.
If you are interested in finding your dream nursing job, contact us to learn about earning a bachelor’s degree with a major in nursing in just 16 months.