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Nursing shortage, or new-grad shortage?

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Since before I started nursing school, we’ve heard about the nursing shortage non-stop.  Nurses were coming out of the woodwork to fill in the gaps; retirees were coming back to work, per-diems were starting part-time, and the part-timers went full time. In our nursing orientation we were told that the job market was looking pretty bad for new grads at the time, but that by the time we graduated, things should be looking up and we’d be in good shape.

That was nearly three years ago. In six months I will be graduating, and it seems like the job market is getting even worse. It makes sense too, I mean it takes more money and more man power to train a new grad, it’s easier to hire an experienced nurse. It’s a scary thought to think that we’ll be out there soon with RN behind our name, BSN for some of us too, but that the excitement might get cast aside if we can’t use it to do what we’ve gone through all this trouble for.  We’ve been told that it helps to get a foot in the door, but from some I’ve talked to, it seems like that isn’t enough either.

There have been talks that employees are now looking at portfolios of our work, skills check off lists, and educational backgrounds to weed through the applications and choose their select few. Maybe it’s just my state, or my area? Or maybe it is starting to clear up, and it’s just taking some time, but whatever it is, it doesn’t seem to be getting better just yet. Nursing students and new grads: what are your thoughts about this? What is the job market like outside of Southern California?

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Ani Burr, RN

I'm a brand new, full-fledged, fresh-out-of-school RN! And better yet, I landed the job of my dreams working with children. I love what I do, and while everyday on the job is a new (and sometimes scary) experience, I'm taking it all in - absorbing everything I can about this amazing profession we all fell in love with.
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8 Responses to Nursing shortage, or new-grad shortage?

  1. Leigh

    I UNDERSTAND 150%. I graduated in May with my ASN, passed my boards at the beginning of July and it took me 6 months to find a job. I put in over THREE HUNDRED applications and got TWO interviews. Yeah, I was disheartened to say the least.

    I transitioned from a legal career and was told “oh, how great that sounds” — only to be met with — “oh, we see you as a lawyer walking down the hall” . . . hello!!! I was a paralegal for 15 years and had my BS in another field — being in law can only HELP you in the long run. Can you tell I am a bit bitter? LOL

    Keep your head up and take SOMETHING so you can get that 1 year under your belt. So far so good for me — I am starting my second month and am quite pleased.

  2. Debbie

    Ani I understand what you are seeing at this time. I am on the other end of spectrum. I have 22 years of nursing experience in multiple fields. It is even difficult for me to get a good job at this time. Most do not want to pay for years of experience or I have been told several times I am over qualifed for job. I just keep reminding myself that I love what I do and I love working with patients and families. You will find your spot in the sun just be open to moving and trying different avenues.

  3. Kelly

    I agree with your article completely. I am currently a nursing student in Massachusetts and the conditions are the same. It is frustrating to think of all the work that we have put in and to have to wait months to get a job. Talking to my professors, they have said that Texas and Florida are the states that are primary states that are hiring new grads.

  4. lily

    In my country, institutions., hospitals, clinics, are amenable in hiring newly graduate nurses because they don’t have to pay for monthly salaries. And besides this newly graduate nurses are paying their for their practice. It is really frustrating on the sides of experience nurses, traumatically speaking there are hospitals in which newly graduate nurses are overflowing. Im currently working in saudi arabia coz the employment rate of nurses in philippines is very low.

  5. Toni

    I graduated in August 2010, here in Houston, TX. Took the boards in October. From the moment I got my results, it took 1.5 months to find a job. I went on several interviews, but everyone is looking for experience. A month plus seemed like a long time to find a job because in the past, looking for an “whatever” job never took that long. During orientation a year ago, they said it’s easy to get hired on, job market is good, etc. It’s hard. It’s sad at times. But in the end, you’ll find a job.. and when you do, other jobs will start calling you. EVEN the rude jobs that flat out told you they didn’t want you because you lacked experience!

  6. Belle

    It’s the same here in the Bay Area. I wanted to work in the area because I already live here. But it’s looking like I may have to either commute or move. I’ve been looking and applying for jobs for three months now, and still no luck. Not even an interview. I’ve even applied for jobs such as unit secretary and LVN positions, just to try to get my foot in the door, like everyone tells you to do. But still, no success.

    I talked to a nursing director at one of the hospitals I’ve applied at, and I was told that they don’t like hiring nurses for jobs that are below their training level (e.g. patient sitter, and I’d assume CNA positions) because the nurse might be tempted to go above and beyond what the job entails. Personally, I wouldn’t mind having an over-qualified CNA take care of me if I was the pt. But anyway.

    I am currently volunteering at a hospital, and that has been a great experience. I thought that by doing that I would be able to get my foot in the door easier. But so far, I have not been able to get hired despite volunteering. But I am enjoying getting to know the people that work at the hospital and learning how the hospital runs. And if my resume ever does get looked at, I think that I will have an advantage over someone who has not volunteered.

    Another issue I run into as a newgrad at this hospital is that they require all newgrads to go through their newgrad program before they even hire them. And I don’t think this is the only hospital with this policy. And I hear that newgrad programs are incredibly difficult to get accepted into because of how many newgrads apply for a given program. But I will try and apply, once they take applications again.

    A fellow nurse friend of mine suggested that while I look for a job, I get my ACLS and PALS, etc. so that I can have those to put on my resume. If the potential employer sees that you already have these under your belt, then you will not only have an advantage over those that don’t yet have these, but the employer will also like the fact that they won’t have to pay for you to get those credentials once (or if) they hire you. Plus, while unemployed, you’ll likely have more time for endeavors such as these.

    So, I will keep looking and applying and praying that something will come up. One of my nursing teachers, while attending meetings regarding this issue of newgrads and jobs, told me to “not worry, because things will look up soon.” I sure hope she’s right.

    My advice is to stay optimistic; keep applying for jobs or newgrad programs, despite rejection; and be willing to take ANY job that will get your foot in the door.

    Best wishes to you, Ani, and all other newgrads who read this. :)

  7. Sara

    I am graduating this coming Friday and I have heard the same from a lot of people. I go onto the websites to look for jobs and all the ones that are posted want experienced nurses. How are we going to get experience if no one will hire us??? A lot of people in my class either already have a job lined up or they have interviews. Before they graduate!! It’s so frustrating because it seems like you are the only one who CANNOT find a job. It’s frustrating and annoying to say the least but eventually it’s going to get to the point where there are no experienced nurses left and hospitals are going to have to pay much, much more to hire and train new grads. I wish the hospitals would suck it up and get over it. We all need jobs and they need nurses. Enough said.

  8. RickD

    Graduated in June. Still no job. No interviews. One call back. Absolutely nothing. And I know a number of people in the same position. I am licensed in two states an the Portland, Oregon metro area. There’s a number of job openings, but they all want experience. I have seen the same jobs posted for months, and have applied numerous times for the same positions but I am getting nowhere. Not to mention that according to Forbes, Portland is the 7th worst city in the nation when it comes to finding a job. So thankfully I got a temporary job in my old field that I start on Monday, so at least I have some income.