I posted this is the New Grad forum, but want to post it here as well to get some thoughts and feeling of those with experience and different perspective.
I am in the grad class of May 09. As a class we are facing difficulty in finding jobs. As I hear the stories on these forums and the complaints of my classmates I am starting to wonder if nursing students have taken on a feeling of entitlement.
This is my second degree, my first was in Biology. When I was in my first degree program we all found every opportunity we could to secure a job upon graduation. We took unpaid internships, worked after school, TA'd, networked, what ever it took. What I have scene in my class is that paid externships from the local hospital have gone unfilled. When I attend out of class lectures and seminars at the hospital there is not a single other nursing student there.
I had two full time offers upon graduation, both in the department I wanted to be in, due to the extra effort I put in. Only one other student in my class has a job. However most did not even start applying until recently and are complaining of the lack of jobs. Jobs are not entitlements, often they must be earned. I know that many of us, my self included, entered nursing in part because of the security and good pay, but when did that mean we stopped working hard to find a job and just put in a bunch of applications and hoped for the best?
An article in our local paper showed a grad nurse with a stack of scrubs
with price tags still on stating she graduated last semester and still no job. Why did she go out and purchase scrubs without a job yet? A job is not a guarantee, not should it be. Nursing as a profession should be billed more as 'it takes a smart, strong person to get in' and not 'anyone who graduates has a guaranteed perfect job'. Most professionals do not expect to get the perfect job in any place they want immediately out of school, so why should nurses?
I am not try to anger anyone by making statements, I am just putting some thoughts down to see what other have observed. Think critically of the current situation facing new nurses. How does are attitudes affect how we go about obtaining jobs? Are we expecting to much, are we expecting more than other professional new grads do? What do we want the image of nursing to be? Not passing judgment, just asking questions that I really am trying to figure out.
Advice that was given to me by nursing directors is to first call the organization you are applying for and find out who will be reading your resume. Address your cover letter to them directly. DO NOT put to whom it may concern or nursing director, a fast way to get it thrown out in a competitive market.
Don't do blanket applications, take time and care to each one. Your cover letter needs and resume to address each postion individually. This takes time and care and a little research.
Keep in contanct with the orgs you are applying for. Call and ask questions, show enthusiasm for the position. Don't bug them, but keep in contact. Always reply promptly and formally. If you have a funny signature on your e-mail make sure to delete this before sending. Every contact should be professional.
Check the local hospital website for free educational opportunities. These are a great chance to network with hospital administration. Find out what the local status is from you area hospitals by asking directly, not through hearsay.
The first job may not be anywhere near where or the department you want to be in. That's OK, this is just the start. Gaining experience starts at the bottom and works up. The recession in temporary, these hiring cycles have been in existence long before we sought out jobs. It will get better. Hard work, a good attitude, and the willingness to work up will go a long way to securing a good future in a great profession.
Good luck to everyone out there, and go that extra effort to get that job you really desire!
May 9, '09
Thanks to everyone for the replies. This post has generated the type of discussion I am really interested in. There is quite a range of view points and I really enjoy reading them all!
Many in my class have argued the broken promises of the nursing shortages and expectation of active recruitment in the hospitals as reasons for not perusing things sooner. This is mind set I would like to talk about. I find it similar to the current economic trend. People were promised things and are now in trouble because they did not foresee the downturn. Now many are now facing foreclosure or economic hardship. I am just wondering if many new grads were just expecting there to be jobs. I feel that blaming the media or the "nursing shortage" as reason for not actively pursue a job early IS the reason behind the current attitude. I look as this as students putting the blame on someone else, what about personal responsibility? Are students victims of hype?
We teach leadership and critical think has the foundation of nursing practice, why do we expect less of our job candidates?
I was always taught to not rely on jobs to just come to you, regardless of the “promises” made to you. The hype of the nursing shortage really changed the way students viewed job placement and in turn change the way they pursued their first job. There are thousand of highly educated people who spent 3+, 4+, 7+ years and thousands of dollars pursing degrees only to face a tough market and a lack of jobs. Pursuing a nursing degree is a time consuming, energy consuming, and money consuming endeavor, but it should not guarantee you a job where life and death can be consequences.
Maybe the 'silver lining' is the lack of jobs will result in an increase in student involvement in pursue their careers earlier. I would like to know the nurse who is caring for me in the hospital is more than a warm body, but a competitive and knowledgeable individual who has done everything they could to advance their knowledge. Just completing an ADN or BSN is not enough. A competitive candidates should show leadership and ambition, not just be waiting at the door expecting to get in.
Just like many have gone to more frugal ways to save money and spend less on extravagant things, I hope that this current downturn in the nursing market will help to redefine what it means to enter the nursing profession. We are professionals and if we want to gain and maintain respect as such we need to encourage leadership, self drive, and set a high standard for entry into a demanding and rewarding career.
Thanks again everyone, keep the ideas following. I am learning from everyone!
Last edit by MesaRN on May 9, '09