Let me begin my story from when I graduated a highly respected nursing school in Los Angeles, CA on June 2010. First order of business was getting licensed meanwhile still applying to jobs because you do not want to miss out on the first window of new grad opportunities. That summer I graduated I had lots on my plate and could not focus on studying for the NCLEX. I had also taken on a full time job as a secretary at my father's office so I could begin to pay for my up and coming student loan bills. I took the test at the end of summer and did not pass. This devastated me! All the while I still was not getting a great response to all the programs I had applied to which did not matter much because I was still unlicensed. I tried to get back in the swing of things to study again and hesitating to take the test again because I was not sure if I was ready. Fast forward to June 2011, one full year from graduating and I finally got the courage to take the test again and I..... PASSED! (I wrote another post about this entire process in detail for those struggling on not passing at first... I will post a link in the comments).
So I celebrated! I got the good pop up after just testing 75 questions. I waited in the mail to receive my certificate and official RN card. But just as soon as I started celebrating I had to refocus and start applying to jobs. I was in a limbo place because I did not meet the cut off for many new grad programs because I was exactly 12 months... 1 year out of school (I still applied but was quickly rejected). But I was not experienced either.. so I could not apply to those jobs requiring experience (although I did apply to some because I have read success stories from those that applied anyways and got a job... all I got was angry emails back barking I was unqualified.. womp womp). I tried everything... I tried networking with my father's doctor friends, my sister-in-law's mother that is a charge nurse, I applied anywhere and everywhere. I applied out of state, in state, to prisons, to schools, to camps, and even an Indian reservation clinic. I searched online at all the websites, craigslist, literally everywhere. I redid my resume, I wrote catchy cover letters. For an entire year I tried everything. I had many interviews... some promising.. some horrifying (showed up for 8 positions at Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles interview to find 100 people then split into 2 rooms of 50 then paired up to interview each other and then explain to the panel of interviewers why they should hire the person you partnered up with... my luck I got a adorable little Asian man that was a veteran but could not speak clear English so not helping my case. I even once waited 2 hours for a late interviewer to just be shut down after 10 mins not because I was a horrible interviewee but I think she just returned from a meeting that left her exhausted... so I can list experiences more but I think you get the point).
I was left disheartened and almost embarrassed. I would see on facebook my fellow classmates that got their licenses quicker and were able to locate a job and I was still a receptionist with a BSN making $10/hour paying for a degree I was not using. It definitely left me in a career related depression. Thank god I was surrounded by wonderful friends and family that kept my hopes up. And finally after a little over a year from getting licensed, two years from graduating I got a job at a home health agency as an RN Supervisory. Not my ideal but heck it was a job... it paid way more than my dad's office and at least it was in the field I have been striving to get into.
So since August 2012, I was a real working RN. I was so excited and happy except for the fact was I was not so pleased with the agency I worked with. But as an old new grad with no experience I sucked it up and have been working here for almost a year and a half. But don't think I have not continued to apply on and off for that entire time. Home health is wonderful, I get to know my patients well, I see all types of cultures and lifestyles. I am really good at assessments but I lack experience in most basic nursing responsibilities and skills. I have not done an IV since 2010, I have not inserted an NG tube since graduating, etc. The few skills I have experienced in home health thus far have been trach care, ventilators, GT care, foley insertion and just recently a porta-cath flush. So I feel myself losing all the skills I had studied and learned from my 4 years at nursing school. So although I had gained at least a year of experience qualifying me for other jobs but I was not "acute care" experienced. Again I was pigeon holed.
I applied anyways and again was disappointed. I was now only qualified for home health jobs. I knew it would take a miracle to have the hiring personnel at any hospital take a chance on me to be hired. I began to settle that this was what my nursing career has gotten to. I even had this genius plan to apply to a masters program and become an NP (my life long dream) and get into an acute setting that way... again disappointed because most want a year of acute experience as well. I even started applying to volunteer at my local hospital hoping they would like me so much and I would prove I was an amazing nurse but still no hope. All this time I did get promoted to Assistant Director of Nursing (did I get a raise?? nope... this home health agency uses their nurses and the office environment is toxic).
After working for this company so long and being there for them, going over and above because that is how dedicated I am to my career they still mistreated me. They hired another new grad RN and began giving her most of the visits. I went from having around 30 visits a week to maybe 5. This new nurse was friends of the boss so I was ******. I figuratively broke my back for this company to be tossed away once they hired a friend's daughter. I was so disappointed and felt so insignificant. I cried to my fiance because I was stuck. I could go to another agency but I know it would be similar. There are always politics involved in home health agencies and I let people walk all over me because I was in a vulnerable situation I don't have much further I could go and I had bills to pay. I was STUCK!! I finally had enough with my nursing career.. it did not get me to where I had dreamed it would get me. I did not picture my self five years ago to be here.
Things switched around coming January 2014, one of the LVN case workers left to a hospital job (her mother networked for her) and so they needed a spot to fill so I was the candidate. I took it because I needed the money, it was stable 8-5 and less driving (home health involves so much driving). I was thrown into the position but still dissatisfied. I hate the office environment... the boss' wife is completely unprofessional and not polite (that is saying it nicely). So I needed out!!
So randomly on Facebook a fellow former student posted as a status "anyone looking for a RN job (experienced or new grad) contact me." I sent her a message and she eventually forwarded me and email from a nursing recruiter hiring for med-surg positions. I quickly refreshed my cover letter and resume and sent her an email. I had high hopes because to me I knew they would not care that I did not have the experience (since they advertised for both) I just needed to sell them that although I am not the newest grad I am the most motivated and dedicated. Got an email back setting up and interview. Between my hectic schedule and commute times I did not have very much time to prepare just the night before. I use to rehearse for days in advance for an interview but I think the lack rehearsal time worked to my benefit. I was also less nervous for some odd reason. Anywho, I interviewed with her very light but good rapport and she happen to be an alumni from the masters program at my school (I think totally worked to my advantage and also made me even more calmer). She sent me down to the floor I was interviewing for to interview with one of the nursing managers, got a tour, meet all the nurses and other workers on the floor and had a simple clinical centered questions about my responses to certain situations. And ended with we will talk to you real soon.
I walked away on cloud 9. I knew I did my best and that it would be a close call. The next day on Saturday I sent an email to the nursing recruiter thanking her for her time. So I began to wait... thank goodness it was a busy weekend so I did not sit around stressing plus I expected to hear something back during the week. Then Sunday at 5pm I got an email saying I have been hired pending my background check (I know is clean as a whistle). I have never been more happier in my entire life. I am high on life right now. So I am currently waiting for my background check so things are not a 100% yet. But I just know it will work out. After 3.5 years post nursing school, 2.5 years post licensure and 1.5 years as a home health nurse I am finally going to be able to call myself a hospital nurse. It is not a high tech big name hospital, its not in the nicest neighborhood, it doesn't pay well to my knowledge, but it is the foot in the door, the leg up I was hoping and praying for, it was the opportunity I was waiting for.
I know this was a long essay (probably could qualify as a novel.. haha) but the moral of the story is DON'T GIVE UP!! Everything happens for a reason! Whether it was to see where I do not want to be career-wise my entire life, or to build confidence to ace that interview, or to learn how to interact with patients thru home health, to teach me perseverance is key, to allow me to meet the future husband of my dreams (I did when vacationing post graduating which I should have been studying for the NCLEX instead but its history now)... I am not sure... maybe for all those reasons. All I know is I was once a stressed out nursing student, a not so focused BSN graduate, a failed NCLEX taker, a dissatisfied used home health nurse and an almost change of career person but it ended up working out. I know this is the career for me and I love the feeling of helping others even if it paid half as much.. I would still do it. So now I get to transition from my current job into the hospital setting. It is scary and makes me nervous just thinking about it since most skills I have not done in 3.5 years (a long long time).. but I am ready for it. This is my chance and I know now it is meant to be. What ever reason it took me this long I know its so I will succeed!
So good luck to everyone. I will keep you updated on my progress as a not so new slightly experienced RN finally in the hospital!
Feb 11, '14
Love your story! Very inspiring and heart-warming. Congratulations!!!
Feb 11, '14
Thank you. I know it is a long post but I had to put my story out there because I couldn't possible be the only nurse in this similar situation of no acute experience and older older new grad. Just reminding people to not give up!!
Feb 11, '14
I graduated in May 2013 so I haven't been out of school that long, but my boyfriend's new job moved us to a new state in November, so I knew I couldn't do any of the graduate nurse programs in the city where I graduated because they required 18-month contracts. So instead I took a job on the rehab wing of a LTC facility for 2 months until we moved... Now that I'm in Florida, I'm doing PDN while applying to hospital med/surg and telemetry positions. I had a great interview last week, so I'm just anxiously waiting on the call... I enjoy PDN, but it just doesn't pay much and it's not that coveted acute care experience you talked about. I'm excited for you and hopefully I'll have some good news of my own soon.
Feb 11, '14
Thank you for sharing your story too! Many of us nurses graduate and our paths to our dream careers aren't as easy as we initially pictured. Sometimes it takes weeks, months, and for me years! I almost feel bad when I complained about my working as a secretary and then a home health RN... I would then stand back and re-evaluate the fact that I was stable, I had a job and no family immediately depending on me. I almost would feel spoiled which helped me get out of my ruts I would get into every few months of being dissatisfied. Heck we are even better off than the ill patients we are taking care of. So I just feel blessed that it's finally coming into reality.
Feb 11, '14
Oh and congrats again!!! Nothing feels better than coming out of a nerve racking interview but feeling satisfied! I swear I even strutted differently when coming out of my most recent interview. Hope to hear that you get the job. If not it's just confidence building and experience for the next interview you will have. There is a reason for everything!
Feb 11, '14
Great story! It gives hope to all the older new grads out there.
Feb 12, '14
love this! it's only been a month since i've passed the NCLEX and haven't been hearing much from anywhere i applied. my hopes are still high, though. do you recommend doing home health if everything else falls through? what about a nursing home? or do you think I'd be digging a deeper hole for myself? thank you for posting this!
Feb 12, '14
Congrats on passing! But prepare for the lovely journey of locating your first nursing job... At this economic I would take a job anywhere. I do think it does pigeon hole you but it's better to have 1.5 years of home health than explain to the interviewer 1.5 years of non-nursing related employment. That's just my opinion. I did learn a lot from my home health position and also work dynamics in general. My only regret from my path of nursing is delaying passing the NCLEX. It really put me at a disadvantage because most places I applied to much rather higher the newer new grads than me. So it's all up to timing and networking but this is an example that even though timing wasn't to my advantage, it's still possible. Someone will eventually take a gamble on you and you will get that chance. And eventually the "nursing shortage" will actually be a nursing shortage and they will be hiring like crazy!
Feb 28, '14
Wow this was so inspiring and I'm
So happy for you! You just gave me hope!