First Job Dilemma

  1. As some of you may have read, I posted a few weeks ago that I was having trouble finding a job, it was a year of searching and I hadn't received any interest. Lady luck must have been on the internet that day and read my post, because I'm now wrestling with 3 different job offers, and can't seem to make my mind.

    A bit about myself: Live in northern California. Not exactly attached to my location, but my significant other is. I am, however, emotionally attached to RN wages here =). Here are my options:

    1.) MedSurg Full Time in El Paso Texas. Wage= 25ish. Must sign 2 year contract after 18 week residency. Things I Like: Location. Things I Dislike: MedSurg, Wage, Contract.

    2.) ED Full Time in North West Texas. Wage=22ish. Must sign 2 year contract after 18 week residency. Things I Like: ED. Things I Dislike: Wage, Contract, Location.

    3.) Corrections Full Time Limited Term in SoCal: Wage=45ish. Term=12 months. Thing I Like: Wage/Benefits, Location, Interest In Corrections. Things I Dislike: Fear of not being easily welcomed back into acute care in future.

    I have narrowed my choices to 2 and 3. 3 For monetary/comfort reasons and 2 because I feel it would enhance my career in ways 3 would not be able to by way of making options for me wider If I ever decided to relocate to another place. One strong factor that drove me to pursue nursing, other than my passion for medical science and my felt duty for public service, was how attractive the idea of "being able to work anywhere" was. I feel starting my career in corrections might pigeonhole me. In all honesty, I don't see this job scarcity loosening its grip anytime in the near future and if this limited term corrections gig doesn't roll over to full time (with the state's labile budget issues as they are), I will still be considered a "new grad" in the eyes of acute care employers, just an older one.

    My interests in nursing are both emergency/critical care and public health. During my ICU residency I was often frustrated with the inability to truly connect with patients on a personal level. I enjoy teaching; I tutored mathematics and chemistry during college and enjoyed it immensely. I wish there existed a unit where I could resuscitate patients from an MI then take them in the back room for coffee and educate them about lifestyle changes and health concerns, haha.

    I know I sound like I'm all over the place here, and believe me these last few days of trying to decide between my options here have been a mess. To make things more complicated. I'm the type of person to [over]analyze the slightest detail in any situation, and the more exposure I get in the hospital setting, the more I realize that the majority of the nursing workforce is a vehicle for tasking, and in most cases, operating as a scapegoat for care-related issues: customer satisfaction ratings, nursing absorbing peripheral tasks due to institutional cut backs, etc. Perhaps that is just the fiscal devil on my shoulder convincing me to take the corrections gig.

    I'm really not sure what quality/type of advice is available for someone in my situation. Maybe you could humor me and help me brainstorm what things should be important to a new grad like myself starting his career. Or maybe you guys can tell me to shut up and just pick one--tough love never hurt. I guess I'm just looking for some direction--I've never really made a big move in my life like this.

    Thanks AN,

    You Guys are Awesome
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    About 240zRN

    Joined: Apr '12; Posts: 100; Likes: 66


  3. by   LindseyRN86
    Life is short. My mho is do what will make you happy..don't over analyze!! Good luck!!
  4. by   ozoian
    ED bro!!
  5. by   CarryThatWeight
    You didn't say what part of Northern Cal you're in, but if you're in the Sacramento area like me, run! Nurses here make a lot of money, but there are no jobs. And like you said, there probably won't be for the foreseeable future. I would go with the ER internship, because if the corrections one doesn't work out, you will be in the unenviable position of trying to find a job when you don't qualify for any new grad internships but don't have enough experience to be considered for positions. Do not leave acute care early in your career--I did that and it was the worst mistake ever! That's my two cents :-)
  6. by   azMissK
    I am also from Northern California ( bay area) and moved out of state for nursing school and stayed for my first job with the hope that eventually I could move home after I get experience.

    I would cut out number 3 and focus on either med surg or ED. But there are other factors besides pay, location and floor that you should be looking at in making your choice. How are new grads supported? Is one of them considered a teaching hospital or do they have an excellent reputation? How many patients on the med surg floor? What are the typical patients in the ED - is it a small county ed or large city one? What shift is being offered?

    I think I would personally choose the med surg position (unless the patient load was insane!!) because it offers a large variety of experience that translates to all areas of nursing. And its in a city that you would like to live in! trust me, location matters and you only work 3 days a week so its important to be in a place that can feel like home. While the ED could be great, I feel as if it can be a difficult place for a new grad to adapt to as ED RNs require a lot of skills that come with being experienced.
    goodluck and congrats on multiple offers.
  7. by   Nurse Kyles
    I think that choices 1 & 2 are probably a good starting point for a new grad. Something to consider is the cost of housing/living vs wage. I have not been to South Cal, but I have heard it is crazy expensive. $45/hr might not buy you as much as $25/hr somewhere else. Also Texas does not have State income tax, which I think is a huge bonus. My family lives in the Ft Worth area of Texas (I live in NW Wisconsin), and I was surprised at how cheap the housing was there. Houses were about 1/3 to 1/4 the price of the houses in the Minneapolis/St Paul metro! I was shocked!

    Do you know much about the facilities you were offered a position at? Are they reputable? What is the patient/staff ratio on the Med/Surg floor like? Do they utilize LPNs in the hospital settings in Texas? (We have no LPNs in hospitals in my area of WI, but staffing ratios seem to be less?)

    I guess I would be a little nervous about a contract too. I think an 18 week residency sounds very desirable for the amount of training you will get though! I am on week 4 of my 12 week orientation (I'm a Dec '11 grad), and I thought that was generous! If I were you I would choose #1 (if the ratios aren't crazy) You like the location, the wage is decent (I bet housing is at least 1/2 the price of So CA), and med/surg will probably provide you with a more interesting patient population than you would expect. Just my 2 cents! Good Luck with your decision! Let us know what you choose!

    PS. I just read this article that is titled "10 Best Cities for Cheapskates" and it listed El Paso, TX as #2. It states that El Paso has "extra cheap cost of living". Take a peak! I read this article because it listed my city as #7 on the list! Check it out!
    Last edit by Nurse Kyles on May 8, '12 : Reason: adding in article
  8. by   240zRN
    I honestly would not be happy in a medical surgical setting. From my rotations in schools, and from what I've learned from others, working in a medical surgical setting is not why I became a nurse. And although I like El Paso for demographic and familial reasons, it is quite dangerous with continuous cartel activity. I will not disclose the hospital in El Paso, but I am not a fan of it either for various reasons. These are some things that make El Paso last on the list.

    If seems most of you are confirming my fears that with going the corrections route, I am gambling big time with that 12 month limited term. I am going to get more information on the limited term.

    The #2 hospital is actually Midland Memorial in Midland. I actually like the hospital a lot. Many people have great things to say about it, it has a great reputation and as I understand it--it is a teaching hospital. Also, a few of my fellow classmates ended up there and they all enjoy it except for the pay, haha. The thing is, that area in Texas is going through a housing crisis due to some oil boom in the area that has attracted a massive growth in population, the housing infrastructure cant keep up. This of course hikes prices up and I'm seeing modest apartments for 1000-1200 monthly (YIKE$!!!!!!!) That would be half my check. I would also have to support my SO while she finds a job, and I'm not sure 22/hour @36Hrs/Week would allow me to accomplish that. We are also hardcore liberals afraid of persecution from GWB's homeland, haha.

    Funny enough, the comment that resonated the most was "ED Bro!!!" cause that's what all my friends would say.

    Thank you all for all your advice.
  9. by   Britt7
    It seems if you are interested in public health, the corrections job could be highly beneficial. I live in SoCal at the moment and while housing can be expensive, it is possible to find cheaper places in less desirable locations. Have you posted on the correctional nursing forum to see if opportunities for other fields are limited for them?

    Personally, I would kill for a new grad ED opportunity though!

    Good luck in whatever you decide!! Congrats on multiple job offers
  10. by   240zRN
    I have read some posts about others accepting limited term positions. The term for this position is 12 months and is not a "filler" limited term, meaning that I would not be filling in for other personnel that are on leave or some kind of absence, but rather a new position created based on budget measures for the fiscal year. I called HR and asked every annoying question I could think of regarding the likelihood of the position becoming permanent. Of course it is in her best interest to not say whether it can or can't, but she did shed light on the fact that "12 months is a long time, anything can happen" as well as informing me that many limited term positions were eventually made permanent. She did close her statement with saying that is was a gamble, however.

    I know that my first job should not come down to financial issues, but the pragmatic side of me craves financial stability. I understand that wages don't exactly translate across the board but the funny economical situation in midland leaves me with rural texas pay and bay area california rent. I have baggage; a dog and a SO, making the money thing even harder.

    Thank you Britt7 for your contribution.

    Sorry everyone if it seems I am rambling on about the same ol' stuff, this thread has been helpful in venting and putting my thoughts down on [internet] paper
  11. by   SK23
    I completely understand your pull toward financial stability, and, quite frankly, see nothing wrong with it, given that wage #3 is almost twice the amount wage #2! Remember this: your first job is not your last job. If you have an interest in corrections - all the better. I know this probably goes against what many people on here would recommend, but - Emergency Departments will always be there. You are a new grad accepted into the ED now, and you may be a "new grad" a year later accepted into the ED - you would not be losing anything by accepting the third option.
  12. by   peonie
    Sooo, 240zRN, have you made a decision?! Also, did they each give you a whole week to accept/reject the job offers or did you ask for some time to think it over?
  13. by   Meriwhen
    Tough choice. I would go with the area that interests you the most, and it seems like that's the ED or Corrections.

    As others have said, this is your first job and not necessarily your last. If you pick one and decide you don't like it, when your term is up you will have a year or two of experience and will be in a better position to pick the next job.

    Whatever you decided, good luck!
  14. by   240zRN
    I havn't made a decision yet. I have till June 1st to make my intentions known. I am leaning towards the correctional facility right now because of the exciting experience and the attractive compensation package, but I wrestle with it everyday. I try as hard as I can to get opinions from a variety of peers and nurses. As much as I enjoy the science and art behind emergency nursing, I feel I would be satisfied with the amount of emergency exposure I might see during my time in corrections; I will also try and moonlight as either a part time or a per diem at another facility in the acute care setting. I am eyeballing a few rural ED's near the area where the Prison is located and I hope the employers would appreciate experience in corrections. I have been gathering as many certifications as I can related to the issue, TNCC, ENPC, NRP, etc., in order to hopefully do a little bit of both. I am still waiting on a formal offer from #2, however. We shall see what happens. I will update this thread once I have made my decision.