New grad; even nurse residencies don't want us!

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    I just graduated from Case Western Reserve University (the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing) and I'm having a horrible time -- not only finding a job -- but finding a job opportunity open to new graduates!

    I figured out relatively early that I wanted to attend a residency program (ideally) before transitioning into a full-time job. I would like more guidance -- particularly because I would like to work in the Operating Room.
    My school was unique in that I DID have an OR rotation my junior year. I was one of two that absolutely loved it! I knew I wanted to start a career in this field.
    I even spent half of my practicum hours in an OR in Cleveland.

    I've been out of school for a month now (not long, I know) and I've applied to three residency programs and a few jobs in-between. Already -- the jobs are all no-gos and 2 of the 3 residency programs have sent me an automated letter saying that I was no longer under consideration. It’s not like I was out there shooting in the dark! I read the requirements very closely and made I sure I was an ideal candidate before applying.

    I have a 3.47 cumulative GPA (not great, but not bad either), a BSN from a reputable nursing program, good references and resume, I ALWAYS had a job in undergrad (not clinical, though)... What could I possibly do to give myself a CHANCE?!?
    I am really, very discouraged – particularly when I see job opportunities that say in BOLD, ALL CAPS (sometimes even underlined and italicized) “NEW GRADS NEED NOT APPLY” or “1 YEAR MINIMUM EXPERIENCE”
    How are we supposed to get any experience if no one hires us – even for less than ideal positions? Even nurse residency programs seem uninterested in a new grad!
    What can I do? I feel so disheartened that I can’t imagine myself applying for a REAL JOB when a program intended for students discards me so easily…

    Any helpful hints are much appreciated!

    Vek7
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  4. 11 Comments so far...

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    Hi. I know its hard, but you have to be patient. I grad with a BSN/3.7gpa and i was getting shot down too. It took me 6 months to land a new grad position. My phone only started ringing 8weeks ago. I was granted 2 new res programs at 2 diff hospital. I was turned down for the first job and then a month later I landed a job. The problem I was starting to run into, was that some programs had the nerve to tell me that I aged out the new grad programs and that they dont hire anyone unless they r within the 6 months period of graduating or graduated 6 months earlier. One site, Hershey hospital said if you graduated prior to summer 2012, need not apply. I wish you the best of luck and keep up the good work
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    It's discouraging but don't give up hope, your first job may not be at a hospital. Get out and network! It's all about who you know these days!
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    Have you applied to position other than the OR? I know where I live they don't hire new grads into the OR. Even for an OR training program, you had to have 2 years of clinical nurse experience. I'd consider extending your options, network, and be patient! I just got an offer after my phone not ringing for 3 months.
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    Quote from vek7
    Even nurse residency programs seem uninterested in a new grad!
    What can I do? I feel so disheartened that I can’t imagine myself applying for a REAL JOB when a program intended for students discards me so easily…
    Keep in mind that it might not necessarily be YOU as the reason for rejection. New Grad Programs are swamped with applicants. Unfortunately for the new grad, it means that these programs can set the bar wherever and however they want because it's not as though they're lacking for qualified applicants. They can decide that they'll only take applicants with BSNs, GPAs of 3.9, have worked as CNA/LVNs, and speak two languages...and will probably have more than enough applicants who fit those narrow qualifications. Fair? Not always. But like it or not, employers have the upper hand right now.

    Or they may have a policy--either public or unwritten--to take the first X number of applicants that apply and then close the opening regardless of who else may apply. Which sucks if you are an outstanding candidate but happen to be applicant #510 when the gates closed at #500. Again, not always fair, but it is what it is.

    As far as postings with the Words of Doom in them...yep, I remember being disheartened upon seeing them too. They're nothing new...they've become pretty common to see since 2008.

    All you can do is keep applying to everything and anything that you can. Be patient--most new grads are taking months to over a year to land something, and yes, this includes the "cream of the crop" graduates. Be flexible: very very few grads land in their dream job/specialty right out of the gate. Most nurses end up transferring to it after a few years' experience.

    And I can't stress this enough: you may need to look outside of the hospital box. So many new grads are so focused on getting into hospitals that they miss out on a lot of opportunities. Your first job is just a stepping stone to start your career--no one says it's where you have to be forever. Don't limit yourself to hospitals-only, or down the road you may find yourself becoming a stale old grad with no experience...and they have an even harder time finding work than new grads do.

    Good luck.
    Ilobekeme likes this.
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    In my organization (I'm sure we're not unique) we have recognized that our OR nurses are actually the 'oldest' group of specialty nurses we have.. so this is becoming an area of concern in terms of ensuring that we don't end up with a crisis situation as they begin to retire. It just does not seem to be an area that attracts new nurses - probably because they didn't have sufficient exposure as a student.

    Your student experience was unique in that it provided you with extended exposure to the OR - be sure to stress this in your applications & resume as well as your cover letters. Include information about specifics - ex: "functioned as scrub nurse on variety of abdominal procedures"

    Have you expanded your job search to include outpatient surgical centers?
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    Are you applying out of state? I have learned that some areas are aware of new nurse congestion in other states and try to recruit from those places. DC/MD/VA is one of those areas if you're interested.
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    I have applied out of state yet I only get rejection emails of "we chose other candidates that better fit our needs". I have BSN, certifications in NRP, ACLS, BLS, IV and am bilingual plus 4 years of healthcare direct care experience with clients (non-nursing) and 8 months of RN experience at a clinic. I only have NY license and not for all the other states I attempted such as FL, CT, NJ, MA, NC, GA, TX, CA, IL. However I am sure to state in the coverletter and resume that I will endorse my RN license to their state. And I check off yes I have appropriate license in the qualifing questions and put their state license number as Pending. But that is no help. Bahhhh.
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    estrellaCR, I am ASTONISHED they are not picking you! You sound like a wonderful candidate! Unfortunately, it's people like you that make me SCARED about my own chances of finding a job. Best of luck to you, I know you will land one!

    To everyone else -- thank you for your concern/interest/advice!

    I am dreading the notion that it may take half a year or more to find a job. I am more than adaptable (if need be) and will work in an office or outpatient center. As each automated response of rejection gets mailed to my inbox, I get more and and more inclined to apply for less than favorable positions, haha.

    If networking really is the key -- I think things are going to be rough. It's hard to network when you don't really have any strings to pull... EESH.


    I figure worst case scenario (after months of struggling) -- I will apply for a nurse's aide position, do well, and hope to find a job opening through that connection. On a different note, I am considering military nursing as a possible route... and will probably start a separate post about that.

    Thanks all! Have a good weekend and to everyone else struggling for a job -- you'll do it!
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    thank you Vek7. I think it is all luck. I had several classmates get called in for interview at NYC hospitals and hired a week later and they had zero experience and nothing on resume besides school clinicals. They had better luck than me with all the jazz. lol.

    Applying for Nurse's Aide is not good idea as hospitals do not hire someone with higher qualification such as LPN or RN to be CNA as your are held to the responsibility of the highest license you possess so it is a liability for facilities. Also, facilities view RNs as not good candidates for CNA or other non nurse jobs as they know as soon as you get hired you will leave the position and they will have to find someone else to fill it.

    Best bet is search craigslist.org , idealist.org , and socialservice.com they have RN jobs that are not in hospital but in community health, clinics, substance use and mental health rehabs. That's how I found my current RN job by searching these websites. It is not a hospital job but it's interesting , pays good enough (more than non-RN jobs) and any experience is better than none. At least you keep busy as an RN using at least some of your skills and not depressed that you have no RN Job.

    What state are you in? Also try non-urban areas. If you are in NY, Rochester hires a lot of new grads. Its 7 hours from NYC where I live so that is too far from me as even VA and MD are half the distance (3.5 hrs) of that. Its important to have state license of the state you seeking job in. I guess thats what blocked me from other states even calling me in to interview, not having their states RN license


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