First jobs as nurse?

  1. Hi everyone! This is my first post on here. I'm a 33 year old preschool teacher back in school for nursing. I'm planning to get my associates first and then, hopefully while working as a nurse, finish up my BSN. I'm a single mom and money is tight already, and I'm a little concerned from everything I've read about actually getting a job once I'm a nurse. It seems like every job requires at least a year experience. Does anyone have any advice on what I can do NOW to help up my chances of actually finding work? Is it as hard to find a job as it seems? Are residency programs something worth pursuing after graduating before anything else? I volunteer for hospice now (ultimately want to either work in hospice or oncology) but absolutely can not afford to give up my salaried teaching job to make $13/hour as a CNA or something similar as I have bills to pay and a child to support etc... I'm near DC and in order to officially start working as a nurse instead of a teacher would need to be making a minimum of $50k starting out. I am totally prepared to do a few years of grunt work before getting into any specialty I'm passionate about, but am honestly worried right now that I'm going to sacrifice my thirties and a lot of money when I'm already struggling to make ends meet...to enter into a field where I'm not going to be able to even find a job. Any advice or reassurance would be very much appreciated. I think I'm just very anxious about making such a bold switch, esp as a single mom, and sometimes I get scared it's not the "smart" choice as far as financial stability/career opportunties go and I'd love a little encouragement My huge fear is just putting in all this time and money and then not being able to find a job at the other end of it...and of course the internet is rife with horror stories from new grads who can't find work, so now I'm not sure if finding a job as a new grad is really as bad as some posts make it sound or not. Thanks!
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  2. 12 Comments

  3. by   Devon Rex
    Hello Bentleysmama,

    First of... if you own a Bentley, sell it! It will help pay for your nursing school and then some.

    You mentioned being a single mom. The level of difficulty going through nursing school will depend greatly on how much support you will have while attending school and your current employer's support in adjusting your work schedule.

    You are able to take your general education classes while working full-time... most area offered online. Once you enter nursing school, their schedule and clinicals will rule your life for about 2 years. You will need to be flexible, your employer, and family.

    The CNA position is rather easy to obtain in a short period of time; but it also pays the least when compared to nursing jobs. If you decide to become an LPN, our responsibilities will increase and you will have a State exam (NCLEX-PN) to pass in order to get licensed and be able to work. The RN track is longer and with higher responsibilities; likewise, you will need to take a State Board exam (NCLEX-RN) in order to get licensed and be able to work.

    As a CNA, will be able to find jobs in multiple healthcare facilities. However, be aware it will pay you the lowest of the three (CNA, LPN, or RN). As an LPN, you will be able to pass medications, but the role is limited and so are the institutions that hire LPNs (mostly nursing homes and correctional facilities). As an RN, you will be able to work pretty much anywhere; however, the problem will be obtaining the first job if you have no experience. I had to start at a nursing home for 8 months before I was able to move on. It was not easy and it took a lot of work, perseverance, and always giving my best in my first job in order to earn a good recommendation.

    If you are willing and able to volunteer at your local hospital or nursing home, this should give you the opportunity to show your character, professionalism, commitment, and behavior towards their patient population. If you are punctual and a non-troublemaker, it will help you land your first job.

    Hope this helps! Cheers!!!
  4. by   Bentleysmama
    Thanks for the response. I already have a bachelors so the only classes I'm taking now are related to finishing up my sciences; taking TEAS exam this summer. My GPA is 3.9 from my first bachelors, I'm a straight A student and have scored close to 100 on all practice TEAS exams, so not too worried about getting in the program. I'm working part time while pursuing nursing so I can handle everything, but currently make close to $30/hr so NO WAY can I afford to switch to CNA to support myself and my son. I'll need to stay at
    my current job until I'm officially a nurse and land a job as such. I know the next few years will be busy and challenging, but my concern wasn't about the program itself but rather being able to find a job as a new grad as it seems all jobs- even the low level ones- require at least a year experience. I was just wondering how the heck you get your foot in the door for that first job. Thanks!
  5. by   Nature_walker
    I'd say it depends on your area if there are jobs for new grads or not. When I finished with my ASN I had a job already lined up for when I graduated. Most of my class did as well. I had no health care experience prior to becoming a nurse. I checked out all the job fairs I could while I was still in school to see what the market was like in the area. Good luck with school and going forward!
  6. by   FutureNurseInfo
    Hi, I am a teacher as well, though I work with 2 graders. Others have already given you a great advice. On my end, I would suggest to save up starting NOW! Based on how much you make, put aside a couple hundred dollars (or less) so by the time you start nursing school you will have some cash to lean on. You already have a Bachelor's, so I'd say go for accelerated, or, at least, generic BSN. However, if your area hospitals do still hire ADN nurses, then do ADN. Once you are in the nursing school, and you finish your first semester, you can start looking for jobs in the healthcare field, like CNA or PCT. This way you can get paid, and gain that valuable healthcare experience. Finally, after you complete your first year, you can apply to externships that normally take place in the summer months. Residency programs are also fine, once you graduate, but I'd apply to as many and any RN jobs available in your area.

    P.S. Relocation is also an option.
  7. by   Pixie.RN
    Look into nurse residencies with Inova. Back in 2008 I made $25/hr right out of the gate as a new nurse with an ASN.

    I would suggest local second-degree BSN programs, but they are expensive and typically accelerated, and therefore employment is highly discouraged during those months (I think some of them are 15 months, something like that). I think the local schools that have them are Marymount, Shenandoah U, and George Mason, but it's been a while since I was a NOVA resident. Marymount is private and probably the most expensive! But your plan to attend a community college, while not the fastest route, is the most fiscally responsible. Smart. Good luck!!
  8. by   Devon Rex
    Hello again!

    I hear you! During your clinicals you will have the opportunity to show your disposition and dedication. Also, take the opportunity to market yourself in the hospital you do your clinicals. Some schools have more than one hospital to do your clinicals... I always asked my professor for the same hospital every semester so I could spend more time with those nurses and really let myself know.

    Truth be told, I didn't get my first job at the hospital where I did all of my clinicals. My roadblock was the HR guy. For some reason, he blocked all of my applications while my female counterparts with nice bodies made it through. I could not prove it, but my Volunteer Director from the same hospital had heard the same complaint from other applicants. BUT, eventually karma paid him a visit... he was fired. I now work for that company, but at a different location. I love my job!

    Be on time, be proactive, professional, helpful, smile, market yourself... it will payoff!
  9. by   jodispamodi
    Totally depends on where you are living. Urban areas generally its very competitive. In my area I knew quite a few new grads who couldnt find jobs, some worked as cna's, some worked fast food while looking, and some went back to school.
  10. by   MamaBeaRN2b
    I don't think changing jobs now will make that much of a difference. In my opinion, you're better off focusing on getting through nursing school. You can worry about it after. If you have to after the program, you can get a medical job as you are waiting for a nurse job. You will be a qualified CNA at that point. Most jobs accept the first semester of nursing school completion in place of a CNA certificate. Good luck!
  11. by   Epavlov04
    Why don't you look into an Accelerated Bachelor's in Nursing instead of an Associates?
  12. by   optimis
    You are asking a few different questions. It seems that you know that the hands down best way to get your foot in the door as an RN is to be a tech, but you also know the pay cut is not feasible. Understandable. I will tell you that nursing school will take over your life in a way you cannot imagine yet and having a full time teaching job (which I am assuming is in the 8am-3pm range) will be very difficult. Have a strong support system in place.

    Look for residency programs in your area. Those are billboards that say "We hire new grads". I loved my residency program.

    In terms of your salary as a nurse, keep in mind that a lot of places offer overtime. My hospital offers as much overtime as I want, whenever I want it. Yes, it is hard as a single mom, but that is an option that is out there.
  13. by   Munch
    It really does depend on your area and if nurses are needed or not. When I graduated my only options were LTC or a job as a floor nurse at a small community hospital with an abysmal reputation that has actually closed down. I took the crappy hospital job for the experience since LTC was something I wasn't interested in doing. This was a number of years ago though.

    My best friend graduated 5 years ago with her BSN RN and was only able to get a job at the county jail. She absolutely loves it though and while she was only going to work there a year to get experience she now plans to stay there until she retires.

    Another friend who graduated last year and had 3 offers from big hospitals in the same area I live in and graduated in. So it all depends. Right now new grads in your area might have trouble getting jobs but by the time you graduate it could be a completely different story. Just be careful if you take a job at a LTC facility and you want to ultimately work in acute care. I know a lot of people who took LTC jobs after they graduated and had a VERY hard time getting a hospital jobs. Its obviously not impossible going from LTC to acute care and actually work with two phenomenal nurses that came from LTC but one of them said it took her three years of applying including applying out of state to finally get into acute care. Something to keep in mind as you mentioned working LTC.
  14. by   Destin293
    Whether you land a job after graduation all depends on the candidate you are. I went to school in NYC which is notoriously saturated with new grads. Every person in my graduating ABSN class (13 of us) landed a job within 1 - 9 months of graduation and professors regularly sent out emails stating they had open positions as their hospitals. So don't worry, the jobs are out there. Those that landed a job sooner headed upstate where the market isn't so saturated. Those that took some extra time all landed positions at hospitals in the city...including one in the PICU at a very well known hospital. But everyone was employed with a year post grad. However, it is an absolute MUST that you maintain GPA of at least 3.5 to give yourself the best chance. Major hospitals will often look at your GPA to make a decision.

    Residency programs are great and tend to give you a better chance at being hired. They really set new grads up for success, so, yes, pursuing a residency is a good idea. Most hospitals now don't even have an option to not go through residency as a new grad...if you're hired, you're automatically in the program. It's seems like it's starting to become standard. And that's ties in to your GPA. If you apply to a hospital with a residency program, they are going to want the best candidates with outstanding GPA's...especially in an urban setting. Some hospitals in less populated areas may not have such strict standards.

    The only thing that may hold you back is obtaining your associates first. In a large urban area, only having an associates will be like nailing jello to a tree with your job search. I would strongly encourage you to look into a BSN program and skip ADN. I wouldn't do an accelerated program, though...working full time as a single mom in an ABSN program is failure waiting to happen. Plus, they likely won't work around your schedule anyway.

    I know in NYC it's next to impossible, if not totally impossible, to be hired as a new grad or enter a residency program with an associates. That's not to say the same stands for hospitals upstate, but the more urban the area, the more a BSN is required.

    Best of luck and don't freak yourself out by reading horror stories of jobless new grads. Study hard, keep your GPA up there, and keep plugging along.

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