To the public, nursing may seem like a profession in which once you have your license, you’ll never be out of work again. Unfortunately, this is not so true for a new graduate nurse!
The reality is that the resources needed to train new graduates just aren’t as readily available as they used to be. Training new grads means money, experienced nurses and time, none of which seem to be in abundance in today’s healthcare economy.
My advice to the next generation of nursing students is simple: Start looking for a job the minute you decide you want to become a nurse. Of course, I’m not suggesting creating a fluff resume and sending it out to every career website you can find; I am asking that you start involving yourself in resume-building activities and create relationships that may serve you when you actually have the degree and license to apply to jobs.
Hospitals love to see that you’ve done something in the medical field before you’ve received your license. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been a camp counselor for the last three years or a secretary for 10; what matters now is that you find something related to healthcare to get involved with.
Take this time to be a volunteer, or work in a new position so you can see the different facets of the industry. Being a volunteer gave me a great view of all the different aspects of patient care and allowed me to be the patient’s liaison through all of it. These activities are not only going to help build you a desirable resume, but also are going to be opportunities for you to meet the people who may help you secure a job.
Clinical rotations are another gold mine for job securement. You don’t have to show up to your assignment with a resume tucked into your back pocket, but BE your resume each and every day that you’re on the floor. I remember my first few clinical rotations and I know I could have made better use of them had I known what I know now.
Make friends with the nurses you’re assigned to, don’t be too good to do anything and make sure everyone knows your name. If you’re able to meet the manager, introduce yourself and send a thank you note at the end of your time there. If you bond with one of the nurses, try to exchange information; he or she may be the key to learning more about hiring, or what kind of questions the facility asks during interviews.
Another way to get your name out there is to talk about your adventures in nursing school. You may not be surprised to learn that the majority of nurses I know have secured jobs through someone they know. So the more you talk about it, the more people are aware that you are a nursing student who one day will need a job.
Family and friends are great cheerleaders as well; the more you involve them in your plight, the more they want you to succeed and therefore become personally invested in your job quest. The world works in mysterious ways…your first interview may come from a friend of a friend who heard you were looking for a job.
The point is that looking for a job as a nurse shouldn’t wait until you’re pulling out the NCLEX review books. It should start the moment you decide that this is the career you want to pursue. Even before you fill out that nursing school application, you should start signing up for activities that will help you grow as a future nurse and as a potential employee. Reach for the stars, too…if you can start a healthcare organization or change the laws in your state, do it! If that seems like a stretch, then start small and be realistic; even the smallest efforts can help you land the job in the end.
Julia Ruiz is recent BSN graduate and currently is working as an RN in the Surgical Intensive Care Unit at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, FL. She lives to love and laugh. One day, she hopes to be an Acute Care Nurse Practitioner.