Is all nursing experience treated the same?

  1. Hello.

    I became a registered nurse a little over 2 years ago. Unfortunately for me, 3 months after I graduated while studying for the board exam, I was involved in an incident that left me with a TBI, resulting in surgery, and doctor-ordered time off.
    I had my brain surgery late 2015, and was told not to work, study, or do any big activities for up to 18 months. This was a bad blow to my future plans, and everything came to a halt.
    I am now deemed healthy enough to go back to work and recently went back to school, after learning how to concentrate and work with memory deficits caused by my injury.

    My main concern however, is getting a good position after 2 years of not working. I was told by a nurse recruiter not to go into acute care, heavy-load areas. I have had to cut my losses and applied for a position at a geriatric long-term care hospital instead.
    I would eventually like to go into acute care, especially in my new passion of neuro-ICU, neuro post-op, etc.
    However, will experience in a geri-unit be considered good at all? I'm concerned they'll just brush off my experience all together, seeing as I'm not getting my feet wet in acute care.

    Should I keep searching for a hospital that would be willing to bring in a nurse like me, or just suck it up and be happy I'm getting any, if not the best, experience at all?

    Thanks.
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  2. 19 Comments

  3. by   Sour Lemon
    For acute care positions, acute care experience will be favored ...but experience in a different area is much better than no experience, at all. You are an "old" new grad having been out of school for two years without working. You should probably take anything you're offered and then start planning a path to your ultimate goal.
  4. by   NightNerd
    First, I'm glad you are doing better and are able to finally pick up where you left off! That sounds incredibly challenging and really speaks to your character that you've worked this hard and are ready to pursue your nursing career.

    Ultimately, a year of experience is better than none at all. Apply to a few different things, do share time, and pick the position that fits you best RIGHT NOW, while you are still learning to be an RN. It's good to keep an eye to the future, especially since you have some very specific goals, but if there is an LTC position somewhere that pays the bills and can get you started, it certainly can't hurt you.

    If I may ask (and this may be an obvious thing), what specifically was the recruiter concerned about that she did not recommend acute care? Did she mean just to start or ever? What do you think about her concerns? I'm assuming she was worried about your health, but if you are at the point where you can physically do nursing work, I don't understand why she would want you to restrict yourself like that.
  5. by   Karrony
    Quote from Sour Lemon
    You should probably take anything you're offered and then start planning a path to your ultimate goal.
    Thanks a lot! I guess my path is just going to take a lot longer than I expected.

    Quote from NightNerd
    Ultimately, a year of experience is better than none at all. Apply to a few different things, do share time, and pick the position that fits you best RIGHT NOW, while you are still learning to be an RN.
    Oh, I am already an RN, as I was lucky enough to have my surgeon schedule my surgery after my exams. I surprised myself passing the exam despite everything I was going through (mostly simple-partial seizures)! I am now pursuing my BSN!
    I think you're right as well, with the "year of experience is better than none at all". I should be happy I'm ready to go back to work.

    Quote from NightNerd
    If I may ask (and this may be an obvious thing), what specifically was the recruiter concerned about that she did not recommend acute care? Did she mean just to start or ever? What do you think about her concerns?
    The nurse recruiter was mostly concerned about all the nursing knowledge I had potentially lost while I was still in my recovery period. So she wants me to build up my experience to working in a hospital again; re-learn my charting skills, full assessments, the basics. I actually agree with her. It's been my 2nd concern after a full recovery that I was loosing my nursing knowledge while down-and-out.
  6. by   bagladyrn
    If you take whatever position you can get and concentrate on excelling at it, in the future you should be able to "sell" yourself on your resume or interview with having accomplished so much after such a setback. You can show that you are ready for further challenges.
  7. by   JBMmom
    Many of my coworkers in my long-term care facility (short term rehab, dementia unit and long-term care units), made the transition to acute care after gaining experience. It can be done, don't sell yourself short, or the value of nursing in long-term care for building assessment and communication skills. Good luck, and congratulations on accomplishing all that you have after some challenging circumstances.
  8. by   Karrony
    Quote from bagladyrn
    If you take whatever position you can get and concentrate on excelling at it, in the future you should be able to "sell" yourself on your resume or interview with having accomplished so much after such a setback. You can show that you are ready for further challenges.
    Thank you! I will certainly keep this in mind. Instead of just doing my tasks, I'll excel at them. I appreciate the encouragement.


    Quote from JBMmom
    It can be done, don't sell yourself short, or the value of nursing in long-term care for building assessment and communication skills. Good luck, and congratulations on accomplishing all that you have after some challenging circumstances.
    Thanks. It's nice to hear that this situation has happened before with the nurses eventually getting into acute care settings. I need to keep reminding myself that I certainly can gain valuable experience. Sure, it's a geri-hospital, but they need caring-for as well!
  9. by   RNNPICU
    Some things to think about. If you are interested in Neuro stuff, see if you are eligible to take the Certified Neuro RN (CNRN) or the Stroke Certificaiton exam. The eligibility requirements just require you work with Neuro type patients (Geri could qualify) but you would need to look at the requirements, PICU can qualify.

    Once you have your job, look at certifications that can make you appealing to acute care hospitals, even ICU.
  10. by   Karrony
    Quote from RNNPICU
    If you are interested in Neuro stuff, see if you are eligible to take the Certified Neuro RN (CNRN) or the Stroke Certificaiton exam.
    Once you have your job, look at certifications that can make you appealing to acute care hospitals, even ICU.
    Thank you for the advice. I had never thought about getting certain certification/s completed, so this definitely helps a lot.
  11. by   RNDarling
    I think you're well within your right to apply to any and all positions to find the right fit for you. Due to personal circumstances, I had about a 2 year gap between the time I graduated and started applying for jobs. It took about 2-3 months but I was hired on a med surg floor at a great hospital and I had no issues at all learning the floor. I did refresh my book knowledge prior to starting and looked up everything as I worked, but it comes back quickly. Just have confidence in yourself.
  12. by   slauren
    It doesn't hurt to apply, either they say no or other opportunities could open for you. My first job was at nursing home/rehab and although it wasn't what I imagined I would work in, I'm glad I did. I got experience in treating post stroke patients, trachs, PEGs, brittle diabetics, wound care (& Vac), learned time management, and got to become familiar with residents that I get my intuition when something is wrong. I got to experience code blues and serious emergencies too while in the nursing home. Now I work in the hospital doing med-surg and occasionally float to cardiac units. I meet hospital nurses that aren't familar with PEGs, don't know how to do wound Vacs, and some nurses are scared of getting trach patients. I teach them what I can but it makes me glad I got to grow as nurse at the rehab. You will get where you want eventually.
  13. by   WestCoastSunRN
    Quote from RNDarling
    I think you're well within your right to apply to any and all positions to find the right fit for you. Due to personal circumstances, I had about a 2 year gap between the time I graduated and started applying for jobs. It took about 2-3 months but I was hired on a med surg floor at a great hospital and I had no issues at all learning the floor. I did refresh my book knowledge prior to starting and looked up everything as I worked, but it comes back quickly. Just have confidence in yourself.
    I agree with this. Apply all the places that interest you. I am confident you will get to acute care and going to geri or rehab first isn't bad, but it also might not be necessary. Appy apply apply! All they can say is 'no'.
  14. by   Karrony
    Quote from RNDarling
    I think you're well within your right to apply to any and all positions to find the right fit for you. Due to personal circumstances, I had about a 2 year gap between the time I graduated and started applying for jobs. It took about 2-3 months but I was hired on a med surg floor at a great hospital and I had no issues at all learning the floor. I did refresh my book knowledge prior to starting and looked up everything as I worked, but it comes back quickly. Just have confidence in yourself.
    First off, glad to hear you're back to being able to work. It's also encouraging to hear that you were able to get back into the nursing groove quite nicely even after a long time gap.
    I have already sent out other applications to other facilities in the hopes that they decide to bring me on boards, so I hope one works out!


    Quote from slauren
    It doesn't hurt to apply, either they say no or other opportunities could open for you. My first job was at nursing home/rehab and although it wasn't what I imagined I would work in, I'm glad I did.
    I got experience in treating post stroke patients, trachs, PEGs, brittle diabetics, wound care (& Vac), learned time management, and got to become familiar with residents that I get my intuition when something is wrong. I got to experience code blues and serious emergencies too while in the nursing home.
    You will get where you want eventually.
    Maybe the geri-hospital may end up giving me a lot of experience like it did with you; there is a lot of different diagnoses and cases at this specific hospital, so I may see a lot. Granted, like I stated above, I'm still trying at other hospitals just in case. Thanks.


    Quote from WestCoastSunRN
    I agree with this. Apply all the places that interest you. I am confident you will get to acute care and going to geri or rehab first isn't bad, but it also might not be necessary. Appy apply apply! All they can say is 'no'.
    Will do! Thanks for the encouragement.

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