Working as an RN in a GS Position overseas - page 2

by kellyjo44 6,964 Views | 15 Comments

My husband is USAF and we are stationed in Okinawa Japan. There is a naval hospital here which I was recently hired onto. BUT I got my job offer letter and they are hiring me as a GS7 with a salary of 33,979. I am a new... Read More


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    My husband is active duty and we are PCSing to Okinawa in August/ Sept. 2012. I am a new grad RN with my ADN, but have a prior Bachelor's Degree... will it be hard for me to get hired out there? I will take any kind of RN positon; school, hospital, etc., but I will have to put 4 kids in daycare! :/ Will it be worth it financially? Are there many positions available? Kelly, did you go through USAJobs?

    Thanks!!!

    Jessica
  2. 2
    Jessica,

    You may have trouble finding a job due to limited availability...but, it is "PCS Season" so you may get lucky with positions opening up. I've been here 6 months and am JUST now going through the hiring process (been trying to get a job since i got here). Here are some steps/tips that you may find helpful.

    1. Build and/or upload your resume through USAJobs. Include EVERY single little nursing thing you've done, seen, whether it be in school, volunteering, working, whatever (dressing changes, NG tubes, etc, everything you can think of that will make you look better to the person reading). Unlike regular civilian resumes where they like consise descriptions, you have to write out everything for GS because a non medical person will "grade" your resume (not the person hiring/interviewing) and assign a GS position based on the experience they read. Just like in nursing "if you didn't document it, it didn't happen." My original resume nearly doubled in length when I made it into the GS version.

    2. Create an automated search to search "nurse" in Okinawa on USAJobs. You will receive an email when a search matches your criteria. It will save you a ton of time spent logging on daily especially since they may only be up for 3 days online, even on weekends. I think you can apply for a job up to 30 days or so before you get here.

    3. Look up the US Naval Hospital Okinawa site and view jobs openings for both regular and contract. Contract positions don't post on USAJobs.

    4. After you redo your resume, get in touch with the HR person at the hospital and email your resume. They will print it and it will be available for the directors of the units to pull it up. If you're interested in a particular area, like med surg, express that do the HR person and they will usually forward your resume onto the unit director. I've heard that the departments sometimes do direct hire where the vacancy will never even make it onto USA Jobs. Also, find out who the department heads are and talk to them. Let them know you are interested. I kept in touch with the person in the area I was interested in weekly to every other week. Everyone here is on orders, so you can ask the dept heads when a civilian position will open up next.

    5. Get a min 3 different NURSING recommendation letters before PCSing (teachers, employers, charge nurse, if youve had nursing experience, maybe a nurse or unit director of a floor you did rotations on), signed dated, contact information, and sealed. Request several copies from each person. To make it easier, I say request 10 copies from each person.

    6. Keep multiple (10 to be safe) official sealed transcrips on hand. Last thing you'd want is to realize after the fact they got packed with your household goods and have NO idea which of the million boxes it could be in (like me lol) and then have to wait a couple of weeks to have the school send them out.

    7. When you get here, go to one of the schools and fill out an application to be a nurse and/or substitute nurse. It's something. On the application, you will be able to select all the schools you would be willing to work/sub at so you don't have to fill out an application for every school. Maybe you can do some of this online..i don't know, I haven't looked.

    8. Volunteer with the Red Cross as an RN in the hospital. To do so, enroll in the new volunteer orientation through CAMP FOSTER (you can enroll online or phone at least, but the class is in person). The other bases have Red Crosses as well, but the one on Foster gets you into the hospital. I think you get a little reimbursement for childcare expenses, but I don't know how much. You will hear the volunteer thing come up a lot. It is not a requirement/prerequisite to hiring, but it's another point on your resume AND it gets your foot in the door at the hospital. Plus, volunteers for the hospital need to go through the same orientations and background check/security clearances as an employee (which takes at LEAST 2 months by the way). You can volunteer while the lengthy bg check is going through, you just dont have computer access since you wont have a cac card yet. By doing this, it gives you a definite advantage over someone who hasn't done this because you will be closer to being ready to work than someone else. Also, stay on top of the red cross people and push when you can do get your things done.

    I don't have any children, but I hear that childcare is expensive and I can certainly understand why you may not want to/cant volunteer. But really, it's just another way to get you known around the area. Nursing jobs are scarce here so anything to give you advantage, especially as a new grad.

    9. Try going to the HR office at the Kadena clinic and leaving (or emailing) your resume with them.

    10. Make friends/connections before you even get her!! I found out of the position through a spouse of someone my husband works with who's neighbor is a nurse. The unit your husband is in may have a facebook page and/or a group for the spouses. Message them and get to know them. You all should also have a sponsor/contact person out here that has been in touch with your husband. Ask that person for names/emails of the spouses and get info from them. You can even go broader than that and find that the enlisted/officers spouses club pages and get to know people. Connections do make a difference.


    Lastly it's important to be proactive in this, but also be patient. Even after you receive a job offer, the process still takes several weeks. Try not to stress about it and enjoy the time out here with your family..make sure you bring and umbrella...and explore!! Okinawa is a nice place, the locals are super friendly, and there's just lots to absorb! Hope this helps and didn't put you to sleep!!
    ctaylor98 and AFwife727 like this.
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    My husband (USAF) has just gotten orders for Kadena AB. I also just graduated with my BSN in May and will be taking the NCLEX within the next few months. Because I have no experience as an RN yet since I'm a new grad, I'm figuring that it'll probably be impossible to be hired at the US Naval Hospital over there. Unless I somehow get lucky (?). We also have a 3-month old baby. The fact that I may have to go at least 4 years without using my degree is a hard pill to swallow. There's also the issue of not remembering all of my nursing knowledge upon our return to the states in 4 years :-/ This post was very informative and it's at least a little comforting to know that there are/have been others in my position.
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    AFwife727,

    I would try not to go in with a defeated attitude towards getting hired as a brand new grad. Just as stateside, employers are excited about hiring new grads because they can help develop them and not quite worry about "bad habits" that may have been picked up. There was a girl in the red cross orientation class I was in who was a brand new RN grad and was offered a position within a few months (I think even before she started volunteering). So, it's not impossible.

    Just try and keep a positive attitude towards things, have lenghty highly detailed GS-style resume ready, references, recommendation letters, sealed transcripts, and show them your best. The family readiness center on Kadena (as well on the different military bases) hold sessions to help you practice your interviewing skills if that's a concern of yours.

    After several months of waiting for a position (with some of that spent volunteering) in my area of choice to open up, I was feeling pretty defeated, but it finally came.

    I forgot to mention in the original post. When looking at the contact positions pages, will pop up as "materials management" something or other. Email them and asked to be put on their job email list too. I haven't taken myself off yet, but they will email you anytime something comes open (granted, it's not all nursing positions, but it saves you from looking on their website (Individual Set Asides (ISA)) all the time. As is, they are looking for RNs at several of the clinics (at least 4)

    Keep your head up and good luck!
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    kelleyjo44,

    Hello, I am now at Okinawa, Japan b/c of my husband got stationed over here. I was wondering how long did it take you to get a job at the hospital from when you applied? What steps did you take to get a job there? Do you have any pointers or things I should do? I am an LPN and I have 4 years of experience and I really want to work here. Please help. Thanks so much... Congrats on the job!

    From one Military Spouse to Another,
    Crystal 8/30/12
  6. 0
    kelleyjo44,

    Hello, I am now at Okinawa, Japan b/c of my husband got stationed over here. I was wondering how long did it take you to get a job at the hospital from when you applied? What steps did you take to get a job there? Do you have any pointers or things I should do? I am an LPN and I have 4 years of experience and I really want to work here. Please help. Thanks so much... Congrats on the job!

    From one Military Spouse to Another,
    Crystal 8/30/12


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