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4 things employers DON’T want in a nurse

If you’re graduating this semester, you’re probably already looking for a job. I’ll bet you’re wondering what employers are looking for when it comes to nurses—besides a year of experience—and whether you can get a job as a new nurse, fresh out of school.

What bosses look for varies from place to place, but here’s what we DON’T want to see.

1. No divas need apply. Most times, new nurses will be put on the quietest shifts with a preceptor, which might mean working weird hours or working nights at first. Yeah, that sucks, but it’s really a good idea. It gives you a chance, as a newbie, to get the flow of the unit and your time management under control without too much pressure. It also gives you the opportunity to manage crises with fewer resources, so that you’re more confident in your abilities. Not being willing to work nights, weekends or off-shifts will decrease your chances of getting a job and learning new skills.

2. Bosses don’t want people without outside interests. It’s normal for nursing to eat up your life when you’re new, but that state of affairs shouldn’t continue for too long. Nurses who can’t get away from nursing are the ones who burn out first. If an interviewer asks you about your hobbies, make sure you can name at least one, even if you have to make it up. Just don’t mention your chemistry set at home or your fascination with small rodents.

3. Human resources tends to look askance at cockiness. Confidence is good, yes, but be sure you’re not giving off the vibe that you have nothing to learn. We all have something to learn, every dadratted day. Be humble, or at least humble-ish. Don’t get defensive when somebody points out a mistake—you’ll get worn out in no time and won’t make any friends. Get used to the idea that not a day will go by when you don’t have at least one howling screw-up to answer for, and you’ll be that much more relaxed.

4. Having bad personal hygiene spells trouble. I wish I didn’t have to say this, but for heaven’s sake, be clean. Personal hygiene tends to slide during the last few weeks of school, but slap up before an interview and for your job. Smell clean without being perfumey, don’t put today’s makeup on over last night’s, trim your facial hair if you have any and for Frog’s sake be sure your nails are clean. While you’re at it, make sure your scrubs fit: VPLs on either sex, or shirts that strain to contain your chest, are distracting at best and at risk for tearing at worst.

Get out there. Be cheerful, kind and intelligent. Ace those interviews, get yourself a job and may you have many mostly happy years ahead of you!

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2 Responses to 4 things employers DON’T want in a nurse

  1. SerialTrauma

    I strongly disagree with the characterization of working night shift…” Most times, new nurses will be put on the quietest shifts with a preceptor, which might mean working weird hours or working nights at first.” and that working nights…”gives you a chance, as a newbie, to get the flow of the unit and your time management under control without too much pressure”
    Working nights is not “easy, quiet, or less pressure” than other shifts. Implying that it is insults those of us that work that shift….or is this author just ascribing to the long held administrative nonsense that the hospital “runs itself at night”?
    What my experience has been (working in the ER at a Level 1 Trauma Center for the last 10 years) is that we hit the ground running at 1900 with a full department that only gets worse. We rarely get any kind of break, and manage to clean it all up (the department and the waiting room) by the time our relief arrives, with the goal of leaving them with way less to do than what we walk in to every night. How is it that some people seem to forget what we were left with the night before just because it is now “quiet” when they walk in the next morning??? We worked our butts off to make it that way. Now, don’t get me wrong, I know that day and afternoon shifts works just as hard, and I am NOT in any way trying to imply that they don’t. WE ALL WORK HARD!!! There is no “easy” shift, and implying that there is is insulting.

    • nccnurse4113

      Completely agree with this poster. No one at our hospital orients on nights. The hospital was very reluctant to put any new nurse on nights, for the simple fact that you have to be able to assess people quickly, in the dark, and still detect issues – night time is when the majority of patients “go South”. I am a new grad and I am on night shift – but only because a previous new grad first proved it could be done. I am never alone – I am always on the unit with a more experienced RN or LPN. Also, I precepted on DAYS for 12 weeks before I went to my regular schedule on nights – this allows you to do as many skills as possible and really master time management before you go to another shift where there is less oversight.