Monday, May 18, 2009
Thoughts on launching my nursing students into the 'real world'
In conversations I've had with many of my nursing students over the past few months, one recurring theme has surfaced. With few exceptions, they are all without firm job offers following graduation. The nursing job market has been impacted by the recession, perhaps not as much as other professions, but impacted nonetheless. Hospitals are cutting back on staff, even in some cases laying off nurses (unheard of until recently!), and those that are hiring, are understandably reluctant to hire new grads that require a huge investment of money to orient. So, panic has set in! Almost unanimously, they have applied to hospitals, and are seeking positions in the ED, ICU, L&D, Pediatrics, etc...in short, critical care areas that require a much higher level of knowledge and experience than new grads possess. Now, perhaps with the nursing shortage of the past ten years, these positions were filled in desperation by hospitals who needed a warm body with "RN" after his/her name, sometimes with unfortunate results. But this is a different time in nursing, and hospitals are unwilling to take a chance the unknown quantity that is a new grad.
So, here is one last piece of advice (not that they ever listened to me anyway!) for all those new grads out there: I know your heart's desire may be working in a hospital in your 'dream' job, but the reality is, very few of you will land that position. You can stress out about, complain about it, whine about it, but (although doing those things may have gotten through the last two or four years) that's not productive. You WILL eventually get there, but for right now, take a look at rehab, long term care, assisted living, nursing homes, etc. (And for the student to whom I suggested this, who answered, "I didn't spend the last four years getting my BSN just to wipe old peoples' asses", well, there is a very hot place in hell awaiting you!). Most of you new grads are young....early to mid-twenties....and you have a long work career ahead of you. Start building your resume....in addition to working in long term care, do volunteer work, take CEU's in the specialty area of your dreams, network, join your state nurses association and attend meetings. The HR person who is going to give you your dream job is NOT going to knock on your door! And, you might just find that you like working in a non-critical care setting, because...and here's a newsflash for you....the growth industry of the future will be in caring for the elderly.
So, I wish all new grads out there the best of luck in their job search. Congratulations, and welcome to the always rewarding, sometimes frustrating, occasionally terrifying, field of nursing.