Nursing Jobs

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Over the past decade, there has been a national push for recruiting more nursing students into the field. While the current supply of RNs is meeting the demand in many areas across the U.S., the need for nurses will continue to rise over the next decade. As aging Baby Boomers require more health care, technology continues to advance the field of medicine, the national healthcare plan is enforced, and more RNs reach the age of retirement, the demand for registered nurses across the country will continue to increase.

The problem is the nursing shortage does not mean that new registered nursing graduates are having no problem landing their first job in the field. In fact, despite the high demand for RNs, many new graduates are having a difficult time finding a job in nursing. A report by the National Student Nurses’ Association found that 37 percent of recent graduates reported not being able to find a job—especially in western states. If nursing jobs for new graduates in your area are difficult to come by here are some tips to help you land your first nursing position.

Eight Tips for Finding Your First Nursing Job

1. Get Experience as a Nurse Aide, Nurse Assistant or LPN

Work as a CNA

If you are still in nursing school, many states will allow senior nursing students to sit for the LPN licensing exam. Passing this exam will allow you to start practicing as a licensed practical nurse before you graduate from an RN nursing program. As an LPN, you can find out what types of patients you enjoy working with and whether you would like to continue working on that unit when you become an RN.

If you cannot sit for a LPN licensure in your state, or you are already a licensed RN, then you may want to consider getting a part-time job as a nurse aide or nurse assistant. In this economy, hospitals are not looking to hire new RNs because it costs the hospital thousands of dollars to train them. This means that managers prefer to hire graduates of RN programs who have some type of experience providing patient care. Experience as a nurse aide or LPN may help you land that job you desire.

2. Be Willing to Work in a Medical/Surgical Area

Many new graduates of RN programs want to find their first job in the operating room, emergency room, intensive care units, or labor and delivery and avoid positions in medical/surgical units. However, if you are willing to work in a medical/surgical unit where you will provide basic nursing care to postoperative patients, injured patients, or patients who are healing from a trauma, then you are more likely to obtain a position as a RN than the graduates who are still waiting to land their dream job.

3. Be Flexible

If you are willing to work nights, days, or weekends and are flexible on the length of shifts you will work, you have a higher chance in finding a job as an RN straight out of school than graduates who are less flexible. If you can work per diem, which means you will work for higher pay per hour without hospital benefits, you are more likely to be hired because per diem workers costs the hospital less money overall.

If the hospitals and agencies where you live are looking for BSN nurses and you are an ADN-prepared nurse, consider looking into RN to BSN programs in your area. Better yet, if a rural hospital 30 minutes to one hour away from where you live is hiring new graduates consider commuting to work to land that first nursing position.

4. Apply for Externship Programs

Long gone are the days when good grades and a smile are all you need to land your first job as a nurse. This means if you are still in school, that you will want to check into nurse externship programs. Many hospitals have external programs for senior nursing students where a small number of students are chosen to work under a RN preceptor. Externs get the opportunity to practice basic nursing skills, learn time management techniques, receive an hourly pay rate similar to what a nurse aide makes, and are in a prime position for obtaining a job as a RN when one becomes available on the unit.

5. Prepare for the Interview

Prepare for Nursing InterviewIt is very important that you do your homework before you sit down for that first interview. Take your time to research the history of the hospital and the specific details about the unit you wish to obtain a position. Have a professional resume with a cover letter. Your cover letter should not contain general information about your career objectives but should be written specifically for the position in which you are applying. Be sure to include a solid professional objective, evidence of your experience, and the contributions you will bring to the unit in your resume.

During the interview, ask intelligent questions about the management style of the unit, programs or services offered to keep the RNs up-to-date, how the staff works with other members of the health care team, and what the atmosphere on the unit is like. Always flow up the interview with a thank you card and phone call to demonstrate your interest in the position.

6. Search Locally and Online

Most places of employment advertise locally and online. There are websites that are updated daily or weekly where you can find job openings for RNs where you live. Here are some common websites that list nursing jobs:

7. Get Your Foot in the Door

You may need to consider a part-time job or a temporary position just to get your foot in the door. Once you demonstrate a level of competence, teamwork, efficiency, and desire to learn, management will be more inclined to higher you to a full-time position when one becomes available on the unit.

8. Make a Good First Impression

It is important that you dress professionally, turn off your cell phone, and smile. Answer the interview questions concisely and refrain from exaggerating statements in order to appear more experienced than you are. Ask questions to determine whether you will make a good fit to the unit or organization. Smile, be friendly, and thank the interviewer for his or her time at the conclusion of the interview.

With a little preparation, experience, and tenacity you will be assessing patients, administering fluids, and starting IVs in no time at all!