Philadelphia area job market?

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    Hi -- I'm new to this board. I've read a lot of contradictory things about the nursing job market in Philly. For example, I gather that it's terrible and new grads can't find jobs (see recent article in Philadelphia Weekly:, that it's hard to find jobs and really depends on who you know, and that hospital jobs may be hard for new grads, but that you can always find a position with a nursing home.

    I also hear contradictory things about the necessity of having a BSN. I hear that most positions at magnet hospitals now require a BSN, but I've also heard that most hospitals care more about the bachelor's degree than about whether it is a bachelor's in nursing.

    I'm taking steps to switch from a fundraising career to nursing. I've been taking prerequisites and hope to start the 2-year associates program at CCP in Fall 2010. I already have a BA and an MA, both in History. I'm hoping to do the nursing program at CCP, get my RN license, and start working as a nurse. Is that just hopelessly naive?

    Rather than post this on the PA Nursing Programs board, I'm approaching you PA nurses who are already out there, working or looking for work. For new nurses with previous bachelor's degrees, how important is it to start out with the BSN? What's the scoop on the job prospects in the Philly area, now and two years out?

    My next big step (the irreversible one) will be to leave my current job this summer. In this climate, that's scary. But I can't juggle this job and nursing clinicals at the same time.

    Thanks for your thoughts. I'm all ears...
    Ling07 likes this.

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  2. 25 Comments...

  3. 0
    A lot of the accelerated 2nd degree programs are less than 2 years, you would be able to get a BSN in the same or less time since you already have a previous degree. Though the cost is a bit more. Have you researched both options?

    The job market in Philly right now is not so great, as previous posters have mentioned. Sorry I can't comment from the perspective you're looking for since I'm currently on the job hunt there with not much luck yet. Who knows how it will be in 2 years though! I'm interested to hear the perspective of current Philly nurses as well on your question...
  4. 1
    I started out looking at accelerated programs and BSN programs. I would talk with teaching faculty and they would all tell me the same thing -- "you already have a bachelor's degree and you have two small kids (infant & 4 yo). Why don't you do the associate's program at CCP and then get your RN license?"

    The instructor at the Drexel ACE Program session flat out told me that ACE was a bad fit unless I had enough childcare (and household support) to be away from my kids 6 days per week, that at most I might have half a day per week (on the weekend) for family time. That level of intensity won't work for my family, even though my partner is incredibly supportive.
    classykaren likes this.
  5. 0
    "For example, I gather that it's terrible and new grads can't find jobs (see recent article in Philadelphia Weekly:, that it's hard to find jobs and really depends on who you know, and that hospital jobs may be hard for new grads, but that you can always find a position with a nursing home."

    I'm a May 2009 BSN grad. The above is true except new grads are struggling to find jobs in nursing homes too. The Philly market is a very competitive market for new graduate nurses. There are several nursing schools in the area graduating a new class of nurses at least once per year. This saturates the local market. Given the current state of the economy and a saturated new grad job market, employers receive hundred(s) applicants for so few open new grad positions. Therefore, they can be more selective given they have a lot applicants to choose from. If I'm not mistaken, I think the Philly market was beginning to become competitive for new graduates sometime during 2008.

    Majority of my former class mates are still looking for jobs. The small number that found jobs relocated to other states and/or join the military. The few that got jobs in the local area were through networking with nurse manager(s) during their senior practicum or having worked as an extern at the hospital. I also witnessed those having worked as externs being turned away due to the hospital could not afford to hire new graduate nurses. It just seem like the luck of the draw for those who have externed, meaning worked at the right hospital that could afford to re-hire and train new graduate nurses. I was fortunate to have externed at the right hospital and did my best to make my application and interview competitive for the RN position I have now.

    If I'm not mistaken, I think many big name Philly hospitals prefer BSN graduates especially hospital systems that are Magnet and/or trying to achieve Magnet status. I know of one hospital that only hires experienced and new graduate RNs that have BSN degrees.

    I have no crystal ball to predict what may occur two years for now, but your best bet is to plan for a competitive job market and have plans in place in case the Philly job market remains unchanged.

    With regards to comment received from the Drexel instructor, I would ask current new 2009 graduates and/or those who have no more than one year experience for pointers on the current Philly market. I think the Drexel instructor is not a good resource for this info (assuming he/she has not tried to search for an RN job late 2008 through 2009). The market significantly changed when I started nursing school about two years ago. Some instructors remain clueless about this fact. At that time, there were many new grad RN positions postings.
  6. 0
    As an ADN RN with a previous BA, I can say that my BA has made zero difference in helping me find a job. I found something finally after 5 months, in psych. It is true that many LTC facilities also are looking for experienced nurses only.

    And yes, many major and community hospitals are saying BSN required (not just Bachelors). I'd say that those of my classmates that have found jobs in acute care, have done so through their previous affiliation with a hospital as an extern/aide, and that previous affiliation can get you around the BSN requirement for outsiders. I wasn't so lucky, in that I did work as an aide while in school, but I wasn't able to find a position within the hospital.

    My advice would be to work while in school as a tech or extern, but at a MAJOR hospital, that way the chances after graduating of them finding a place for you is much greater. That was my mistake I believe (I worked for a smaller community hospital).
  7. 0
    I'm a new grad and I think that if you can go for the BSN, it would give you an edge in a tight job market. Drexel isn't the only accelerated BSN program in Philly, there are others that are slightly longer and may allow for a little more balance in your family life (though nursing school is intense and time consuming, regardless of which school or degree route you choose).

    I agree that networking is important in finding a job. The schedule in my ABSN program didn't leave us time to do externships, and as someone else mentioned, some hospitals can't afford to move their current externs up to full time RN positions right now (though some are offering part-time). Volunteering is also a great way to make connections, you can do it throughout pre-reqs and cut back your hours during nursing school.

    That being said, I graduated in September, passed NCLEX in early October, and had job offers in November. A number of my classmates also received offers around the same time. I don't know if it's a sign that things are opening up, or if we were all just very lucky at once. A few people had jobs lined up by the time we graduated, but it wasn't the norm.

    Hopefully, things will have improved by the time you graduate, but based on the current situation, I wouldn't expect unlimited options as a new grad. Even now, it's not that it's impossible to get a job, but it is competitive and does take time.
  8. 0
    To Augustrain,

    Are the job offers in the philly area?
  9. 0
    Quote from Tua15395
    To Augustrain,

    Are the job offers in the philly area?
    Yes, three in Philly and one closer to Pittsburgh.
    Last edit by AugustRain on Dec 8, '09 : Reason: typo
  10. 0
    Wow Augustrain, congrats on all your success! Would you mind sharing with us who are still searching in this tough market what you did in your hunt to be so successful? Thanks!
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    Thanks LoriNJ

    Most of what I did is probably the same thing that all the other new grads are doing - lots of applications (and lots of rejections!). Every week, I made a plan for new apps, follow ups, and research. I got in touch with any contacts I could think of, but only one resulted in an interview in PA.

    For every online app, I also either dropped off a resume & cover letter in person (if the hospitals allowed it), or mailed them in a full size resume envelope. I called each hospital's HR dept and got the name of the recruiter and found out when to follow up. I was pretty persistent, but by letting them know ahead of time that I would be calling/e-mailing, and finding out their preference, it made it a little less stalker-ish And I started to find out that people had actually read my resume (which sometimes lead to a lovely "no new grads" rejection).

    Before my interviews, I did a lot of research on the hospitals & prepared myself for questions they might ask, as well as questions to ask them. I just tried to show the hospitals what I could offer them, that I was enthusiastic, flexible, willing to learn, and not looking to run when my year was up. When offering me a job, the recruiter told me that I had interviewed very well, which definitely helped.

    I also brought a folder of information to leave with each interviewer, including my resume, references, copies of certifications, and sample work. Before I left, I made sure to get business cards, and sent thank yous to everyone involved (contacts, recruiters, interviewers) and reiterated my interest in the position.

    Like pretty much everyone else, I also applied out of state and got two offers, so those required even more phone calls, e-mails, and a road trip.

    I know job hunting is exhausting and frustrating and there's probably always some element of luck involved, but I hope that everyone is able to find something soon and stay sane in the process.
    nanagose likes this.

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