New nurses struggle to find jobs

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Lured by promises of sure-fire employment, many nursing grads are surprised to find a tight job market and few prospects for new RNs.

Brand new registered nurses in Nebraska, New York and Maryland are having trouble finding work, a problem many experts and administrators attribute to the current recession.  Hospitals and healthcare facilities are cutting costs — a measure that often means a hiring freeze.  The atmosphere of economic uncertainty also means that nurses who otherwise might have retired as staying in the workforce while nurses who have been out of the workforce are returning to nursing full-time.  New grads, with little or no experience, face an extremely competitive job market.

Most experts expect the crunch to ease with the recession, as older nurses retire and an aging population increases demand for care.  That thought, though, is little comfort to the RNs looking for work today.

“I thought I was going to be able to find [a job] right off the bat, but it didn’t work out that way,” says Tamara Medina, a Hagerstown Community College grad who was quoted in The Herald-Mail.

How’s the job market in your neck of the woods?  Do you think nursing colleges have done nursing grads a disservice by playing up opportunities for employment after graduation?

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Jennifer Fink, RN, BSN

Jennifer is a professional freelance writer with over eight years experience as a hospital nurse. She has clinical experience in adult health, including med-surg, geriatrics and transplant; she also has a particular interest in women’s health and cancer care. Jennifer has written a variety of health and parenting articles for national publications.

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8 Responses to New nurses struggle to find jobs

  1. Elizabeth

    I definitely feel nursing schools & teachers have done the students a disservice by playing up opportunities in the work forced, pay, & shift diffs. My class will be walking out of school in 3 weeks, May 2010 & there is not one student in this class that has received a job offer yet. In previous semesters the number of pre-graduation job offers had dwindled to about 10 for the Dec. 2009 graduating class. It is particularly difficult in this area (Charlotte, NC) as there are over 10 nursing schools in the surrounding area, a fact not every student was aware of until about a week ago. In fact, there are many students from that Dec 2009 class that have passed their NCLEX & are still in the job market and about 5 of them have moved to states with more need to take a job.

  2. Chanda Kim

    In Phoenix AZ we kept hearing about the nursing shortage. Well when I graduated let me tell you it took me nearly 3 months to find a job, even get an interview! Facilities here are just not looking for new grads, they want experienced nurses so they dont have to train. I even had a DON tell me she wouldnt give me an interview because new grads were “too much trouble”. I stuck it out and was luckier than some of my friends because I am willing to work nights. But from what my research tells me I am making a couple of dollars below what used to be considered average. But better to be making some money than none right?

  3. Lorrie

    I live in Erie, PA where there are a number of Colleges, Universities and Trade Schools churning out 2 year RNs, 4 year RNs and LPNs in droves. It is very difficult to find a nursing job here. I graduated in December and have an intermittent swing shift position right now because I had a summer internship at the hospital where I work and stayed on as a Nursing Assistant until I graduated to stay in the loop. I know there are graduates from my class who still haven’t found jobs and in a couple of weeks all of the May graduates will be flooding the market as well. It is very apparent as well that employers are not interested in new grads. Every ad in our local paper for nurses requires a couple of years experience in order to qualify for the open positions. It’s a catch-22 around here. You can’t find a job without experience and no one will hire you and give you the chance to get some experience.

  4. It’s a sad and difficult time. I’m in my final year of university and already scared about the future and what will come. I’m worried I’ll be on the long list on the graduate scrapheap

  5. Resi

    What I believe is a disservice that nursing schools have done (or not done..) is failing to help their students find & land those jobs. I’m not saying for the school to do all the work, and especially in years before, help was not needed. But for example, at New York Presbyterian (where my aunt works as an RN), they first hire graduates from schools they are associated with (Cornell..). Perhaps things would be easier if all schools were associated better with different hospitals.. cuz one thing’s for sure, my nursing school really did not help at all!

  6. Tamara

    Same as most of the others… left a good job (although boring) to go to nursing school… took 4 years to get a spot in school. Loved school… knew I had found my true calling. Graduated… passed NCLEX.. now, cannot even get a call for an interview. It has been 6 months. Yes, I feel cheated. I am dismayed that in a city that values “local”, hospitals are looking only for experience and paying to relocate experienced nurses rather than hire new grads. Yes, training new nurses is costly but the return is worth it! This is my hometown but I am looking to the national picture and the first place willing to take a chance on me will have a new resident!

    • mandaRN

      I am in a very similar position. It took me two years to get into the nursing program. I graduated, passed the NCLEX and got my license July 7, 2011. I am STILL looking for work, and like you, I can’t even get an interview. Nursing homes don’t want me because I’m an RN, and they can hire an LPN for less money. Hospitals don’t want me because I don’t have the “minimum 1-2 years experience.” The nearest teaching hospital is two hours away, which makes a commute all but impossible. I’m looking at moving and leaving my two boys with family, just to get a year’s experience so I can work in my own hometown. Very sad, a very tough position to be in.

  7. Megan

    It’s definitely frustrating right now. I feel so mislead…I left a good job to go into nursing with the mindset that I was going where I was needed…so not the case. San francisco is awful for new grads. It’s so depressing!