New grad offered school nurse contract position - Should I take it or not?

  1. 1 Hi everyone! I am a new member to allnurses and would like to ask for some much needed advice for an issue I'm currently facing. I am a new grad RN-BSN with no paid RN experience since I've graduated. While applying for jobs last month, I came across an ad online about an elementary school district nurse contract position that would start in Feb 2013 and end June 2013. Since the ad didn't specify needing any prior nursing experience, I decided to take a chance and try my luck. I've always wanted to be a peds nurse, so I figured that this job would be perfect for me. I am also very much aware that being a school nurse as a new grad is not recommended, but I've heard of some instances in which new grads have been hired as school nurses and seem to be doing well.

    A week later, I was contacted by a recruiter telling me that the school district liked my resume and would like to meet with me for an informal interview. After meeting with the school district superintendent, I was offered the job on the spot. I was told that they received very few applications, which I could see why, since this school district is in a very rural community about 2 hours away from the closest metropolitan city (which is where I currently reside). Basically, it's in the middle of nowhere. So anyway, the school tells me that I'll be replacing the previous school nurse and my job is to finish out the school year for her. After meeting the previous school nurse, I found that she too was a new grad RN when she started working for the school in late 2012, and basically applied to this job out of desperation of need an RN job. She told me that she is leaving the school because she was offered a better position in a new grad residency program and she felt that the school district put too many responsibilities on her without much help and guidance, even though they hired her knowing she did not have any previous school nurse experience. She also told me that this school district has a high turnover rate for their school nurse position, which is quite alarming to me.

    My biggest concern though about taking this position is that it's only a temporary contract position through a staffing agency, and would only give me about 5 months of school nursing experience. Since there are no guarantees that I will be given another school nurse position after my contract with this school is over, I'm afraid that this job won't give me enough nursing experience to help me find a job afterwards. Should I accept this job offer or not? I know some experience is better than nothing, but I've also heard that temp jobs do not look very good on a resume. School nursing is definitely something I consider doing as a lifelong career, but will 5 months of school nurse experience in a contract position as a new grad help me land a permanent school nurse position at a better school district closer to the city? Or should I decline the offer and wait to land a new grad RN position in acute care so I can gain the experience school districts require to hire school nurses? Thanks so much in advance for taking the time to read this! Any advice or thoughts are greatly appreciated!
  2. Visit  iheart_peds profile page

    About iheart_peds

    From 'Southern California'; Joined Jan '13; Posts: 2; Likes: 1.

    7 Comments so far...

  3. Visit  sharon2012rn profile page
    1
    I was offered a position like that too from an agency. I dont think they care who they hire, while I was waiting to be interviewed, the receptionist had me filling out paperwork as if i was hired already(w4 info, emergency contact, etc), that was red flag #1, so i go to the interview, only it wasnt an interview, he was asking me what job i would like to wo work(rf#2), he offered me school nurse position, i said do you offer training bc im a fish out of water, he said they dont offer training, and ran down the typical things kids come to the nurse for, tummy ache, cramps, headache and even said a couple of kids need tube feeding . I told him i dont feel comfortable and this is putting my license on the line. To make matters even worst, the agency set it up so I'm considered a private contractor, meaning that if something bad happen they could sue me not them. I said thanks but no thanks. That was in Oct 2012(i grad may 2012). So i went back to the drawing board and landed a nurse residency job in the ER, and i start next month. So if I was you, i wouldnt take this job and be very careful of agencies that just throw you to the wolves. You worked very hard for your license and you dont want to lose it and you said its 2 hours away, this job isnt worth it. You have to ask your self what happens if something really serious happens and u will be like a deer caught in the head lights. Trust me i thought long and hard about that job, and something better came down the line.
    HangInThere likes this.
  4. Visit  iheart_peds profile page
    0
    Wow! It’s amazing how similar our situations are! Like you, I was very skeptical when they already had me filling out paperwork the first time I met with them. That just made me feel like either the agency that recruited me just wanted their commission or that the school didn’t really care who they hired, just as long as they have a RN license with a BSN degree then they are somehow “qualified” to be their school nurse.

    So they were going to hire you as a private contractor and not even provide you with any training whatsoever? Wow! I agree, it seems like they were just going to throw you to the wolves! In my case, they would be providing me with two weeks of training by the school nurse whom I’ll be replacing. I guess that’s better than nothing, but I'm not sure if that would be sufficient enough. And they offered to provide housing for me, so I won’t have to make the 4-hour commute to and from the school everyday. However, I should really check with the agency to see if they would be hiring me as a private contractor as well. If they are, I’m running away and never looking back! You are completely right, we as nurses have a license to protect and we must have the wisdom to turn down employment opportunities that may be putting our license at risk.

    I’m really torn about whether or not I should really take this job because just like you, I’m really skeptical and hesitant about accepting the offer. I expressed my concerns to my recruiter, but instead of telling me that I have a license to protect, she assured me that I’ll be fine and that I’m just feeling nervous because I’m a new grad fresh out of college. Does that sound kinda shady to you? I guess I should just follow my gut feeling in this situation. Taking this job sounds really tempting because if I do take it, I’ll at least have some kind of nursing experience on my resume. But on the other hand, I don’t want to put my license at risk and being away from home is way out of my comfort zone for me (even if it’s only 2 hours away, lol).

    Thank you so much for your advice, sharon2012rn!! Your insight has been really helpful to me in making my decision! Also, congrats on getting that nurse residency position in the ER!! That’s so awesome! I hope I have the same luck in finding a better position when I turn down this school nurse job!
  5. Visit  elkpark profile page
    0
    The current RN has already told you what you can expect from the position and employer:

    ... she is leaving the school because she was offered a better position in a new grad residency program and she felt that the school district put too many responsibilities on her without much help and guidance, even though they hired her knowing she did not have any previous school nurse experience. She also told me that this school district has a high turnover rate for their school nurse position, which is quite alarming to me.

    If you're okay with that, take the job. If not, hold out for something less risky. If you do take the job and it turns out badly, don't be surprised.
  6. Visit  Spidey's mom profile page
    2
    The high turnover rate for school nurses has more to do with not getting adequately trained for the job of school nurse. Even we older crusty nurses are part of the turnover rate.

    When I first started a few years ago, I was appalled that there was NO training, no policies and procedures for my job, nothing. I was fortunate that a local school nurse who had recently retired after 30 years decided to put together some training for our district as there were 6 new school nurses and she was tired of seeing new nurses leave after only a few months due to being tossed into the job with no training. We met for 6 months. I'm also a member of NASN (National Association of School Nurses) which helps a lot - I went to their national convention last year too.

    I still have to get my school nurse credential - the state grants a temporary credential so you can be a school nurse here in CA but gives you 5 years to get it.

    I'm still thinking about what I'm going to do about that . . . .
    HangInThere and Sudsy like this.
  7. Visit  Nurse ABC profile page
    3
    Chances are if they needed a staffing agency to find someone to work the rest of the school year then they will need a nurse for next year and chances are high that you could apply for that and get the job.

    Two weeks of paid training is unheard of in school nursing-most of us were lucky to get one or two days and some got none so that's a good sign! I think you'll be fine! I was a relatively new nurse when I started and had no trouble. Things that you aren't familiar with that may come up there's always someone that knows-other teachers, staff, even the parents. I have had trouble with insulin pumps at time that were brand new and the parents were always happy to show me how they worked.

    The high turn-over rate is probably due to the fact it's in the middle of nowhere and I think it's tough for some to leave acute care to go to school nursing because it's so different and we miss using all the skills we were used to doing. Also the pay is so much lower than acute care which turns a lot of people away.

    I say you have nothing to lose by accepting this contract for the rest of the school year. Experience of any kind will only help you-not hurt you (even if you don't put it on your resume you learn something from it). This is a good way for you to see if you'd be happy as a school nurse before commiting an entire year to it!! It's only 4 months-most schools are done by the middle of June.
    HangInThere, nglaurenRN, and Kafergie like this.
  8. Visit  NutmeggeRN profile page
    1
    The biggest thing to remember is to know when to say when. If you do not know, ask! Call another nurse in the district, neighboring town etc or your state school nurse association. There is a learning curve but you will find out one of two things. This is a job for you that could be a career, or it is a stop along the way until you find your passion.
    Good Luck!
    HangInThere likes this.
  9. Visit  elprup profile page
    0
    Quote from Spidey's mom
    The high turnover rate for school nurses has more to do with not getting adequately trained for the job of school nurse. Even we older crusty nurses are part of the turnover rate.When I first started a few years ago, I was appalled that there was NO training, no policies and procedures for my job, nothing. I was fortunate that a local school nurse who had recently retired after 30 years decided to put together some training for our district as there were 6 new school nurses and she was tired of seeing new nurses leave after only a few months due to being tossed into the job with no training. We met for 6 months. I'm also a member of NASN (National Association of School Nurses) which helps a lot - I went to their national convention last year too.I still have to get my school nurse credential - the state grants a temporary credential so you can be a school nurse here in CA but gives you 5 years to get it. I'm still thinking about what I'm going to do about that . . . .
    Very frustrating that this is the norm. I have experienced the exact same in my short few months at my new job.


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