The estimates for the cost of replacing a staff member are enormous. I have seen articles that say it takes up to 1.5 times the annual wage of a person to get a new person in and trained at the same level. So, no one wants to have to spend say $75K+ every year to train a new person and have them leave in a year, only to have to get someone else in and oriented who will then leave in another year or two. Back in the old days of nursing, you could get along with a year here, a year there. But as hospitals are cracking down on the budgets, they can't afford to have such a high turnover. If everyone were leaving every one to two years - that is bad business and looks bad on the vacancy rate numbers as well as the unit's budget. It also makes the unit/hospital look bad, as if there is a problem with the working environment. Trust me - a high turnover affects every managers evaluation. And the evaluation affects the manager's salary as well as whether or not they keep their job. I don't know what the magic year number for keeping a job is, I'm sure it is up to the individual manager/recruiter. I was told recently that they were looking for someone willing to invest 5 or more years in the same position.
Only wanting part-time work is another issue. When you are in a specialty area, if you are just working a few hours a week, it takes longer to train someone. And there is the possibility that you will not retain needed info since you are not using it all the time (like 36+ hours per week). If you forget things needed to be an independent nurse on the unit, this takes the other nurses extra time to help you out when you come across something you have forgotten or just haven't been exposed to because you don't work as often. Part time people also are less inclined to work OT. Hospitals don't like people that don't want to work OT when asked to cover shifts. Yet they yell at you for OT when you have a heavy patient load - go figure. And even though it is illegal to ask about family status - if you say anything about kids, especially about why you aren't interested in FT to OT work - this works against you. People with children are more likely to need time off or call in because of sick children as compared to persons with no kids or older children, etc. So they cannot ask you about family stuff but many women don't think about what they chitchat about and that is how people are discriminated against who have kids. And that is legal because they did not ask you about having children. But you may have volunteered the info just talking and so you can get put to the bottom of the list of candidates.
Yes, you'd think that floating to medsurg would be a good thing. Not necessarily when you are trying to change specialties. I've been a float nurse a good portion of my life and I prefer it. But floaters are looked at as not being able to make a commitment to a unit. They also do not always get the worst pt assignment. Although I have worked in places where they ALWAYS got the worst assignment. But many places don't give the floater the heaviest, sickest patients. They may not always have to get the admits or discharges. Therefore you may not really have been exposed to as many types of patients, illnesses, medications, procedures, etc. This again limits your skill base. And that is just because you do not have the same amount of experience as a nurse that works full time - you just aren't there as often so you don't get as much experience - even though you may have the same number of calendar years of experience. Learning quickly and being able to take a new set of patients every day has just never meant much to most people. Now me, if I were hiring, I'd rather have a float nurse like you because you're easier to train and could get on the floor quicker. But unfortunately money talks and getting a new grad that I might convince to stay for years, at a lower salary than a nurse of 4-5 yrs, that's usually who ends up getting the job.
I have my Associates degree. I have been a manager. Did it take longer to get to that level than if I had my BSN? You bet it did. Do I want my BSN? No. Not right now. And I don't know that I ever want it with my years of experience and the way healthcare is headed. I got my MedSurg certification many years ago because I was unable to go back to school back then and needed a career boost. The certification definitely helped my career. But to get a certification you have to have a certain number of hours worked in the specialty before you can apply to take the exam. Thus working PT/PRN and floating makes it difficult to accumulate those hours. It is also expensive if your employer doesn't pay for it - which is why only a small percentage of nurses get certified.
Floating also makes it hard for someone to eval your work and to net you some work references from colleagues. Most floaters are expected to work independently. They rarely see their dept. supervisor because they don't work in their "home" dept. And if you are floating somewhere it is because the unit is understaffed already and the nurses, even the charge RN, is not going to pay any attention to your work because they are too busy running their butts off doing there own work. Thus, it makes it difficult to have a colleague know that you do fabulous work and be willing to write you a reference or be called from a potential employer a year or two down the road.
I know how desperate you probably are to find your niche. But since you are not in an area with a critical nursing shortage, it will be more difficult to reach the goals you seem to have set without making changes in your working/personal life that you may not be able to do right now. Nursing is supposed to be flexible and to an extent it is. You can just about get a job anywhere. But that does not mean that you will like the job, or that it will be hours that fit into your family life, etc. You need to sit down and write out short and longterm goals. This will help with making career decisions. But remember that when there are issues such as how much you can work, then you will have to make up for that liability in some other area. And sometimes what you have to do to overcome a weakness in one area is to take jobs you don't like, for crummy pay, take longer to reach your short term goals, etc. to reach your destination goal.
The next time you apply for a job and don't get it, ask the manager/recruiter "What can you suggest that I do to make myself more marketable so that you would hire me for this position?" You may really hate what they tell you - I know I didn't like it when they told me and I hadn't even asked. But it does give you more insight into what they are looking for. Then you can decide whether or not you think it is worth your time to follow their suggestions or try another route.
If you really want to reach your goals be prepared to sacrifice something.