A Graduate's Dilemma...

Nurses New Nurse


i know many new graduates are facing this dilemma as well, and i'd like some seasoned nurses' advice...

i went to school for nursing because i wanted to impact peoples lives and make a difference in the world, really helping those who really needed it...and after doing my rotations, i knew where i wanted to be - something real busy and where you never know what's going to happen, like trauma or icu. i've always thrived in fast-paced, high energy, sometimes hectic environments. i love that stuff. :redbeathe

but...i'm graduating in a week, and so far, jobs are slim-pickin's. i live in a smaller area, and if i get the kind of job i really want, chances are i'll have to commute for it - not a big deal, i'll do it. however, chances are better (and pay is better) if i work in ltc. i really, really do not want to be in ltc - that's not why i decided to become a nurse.

so my question to you is.. do i just work in the field i don't want to because of temporary convenience (i'm going back to school in fall) and for higher pay, or i do pursue the field i want? and if i were to "give in" and work in ltc for the time being, would that take me farther from my goal of working in a hospital setting, like trauma or icu?

what would you do?? should a new grad nurse compromise on what they really want for whatever comes along even if it's completely different? :confused: oohhhh i'm so confused!!

please, please...any advice! i need it!

Specializes in Adolescent & Adult Psychiatry.

Hi There!

I'm actually in the same torn up boat as you, although I don't plan on going back to school for a couple of years, but I sympathize with you to the max! :p

Here's my take on it, if we don't settle for less in terms of relationships, why settle for even less with regards to our passion!?!? I'm lucky enough to be able to stay at home with my mom until I find a job, but where I live (Downtown Chicago), the market is saturated with new grads with no place for them to go! So it may take a couple of months until a miracle position opens up just for me!

Advice for you, if you don't have to worry about money right now...

Keep stuffing your applications and resumes down hospitals' throats (mmmm! laryngitis!)!!!!! That's what I'm doing and a recruiter told me that if HR sees my name a gazillion times then they'll remember me and when the time's right will grant me a position! Also, seeing as how you'd like to go into ICU, try to get buddy buddy with a nurse manager on that unit and let them know just how qualified you are to work for them! Remember what you worked hard for and don't let it get fogged up by an LTC position. If ICU is what you're hoping and praying for then be very proactive in letting the right people see you and get to know you! It may take some time, but trust me, the best things are worth waiting (and being hella persistent) for!

If you need money now (which we all do actually! Womp Womp! :coollook:)...

I'd still say go for the gold, but since I've never had to really worry and finances then I may not be the exact poster child for this type of advice! However, if you do need to find something now, try getting a secretarial or intake position at a hospital. It may sound like you're taking a detour, but actually it's getting you steps closer to your desired unit and you can observe how that specific hospital works and even get your name out there amongst the nurses and other personnel! I'd try to stay in the hospital setting instead of an LTC since you're so determined to work in the ICU.

Whatever it is, follow your dream (tehehe!) and do what you think is best ultimately. I have no clue what the economy is like in your neck of the woods so I can only give minimal advice. As for me, I'm going to continue to be proactive and optimistic and I know that the economic climate will be sunny and warm again someday! Besides, they said the recession is slowly coming to a close so you might just luck up and have a job by September!

I'll keep my fingers crossed for you and wish you luck on your job-searching endeavors!!! Toot-a-loo! :chuckle

Jolie, BSN

6,375 Posts

Specializes in Maternal - Child Health.

I understand following your dream.....if there is a job somewhere that will allow you to do so.

If not, LTC is a nursing specialty that will enable you to gain clinical experience, expand your knowledge base, hone your assessment skills, develop critical thinking, improve time management, develop relatonships with patients and families, interact and network with members of other health care disciplines, etc. I think you probably see where I'm going with this. These are all skills that are critical to ICU. Your time and efforts will not be wasted.

None of these things will happen if you remain unemployed or work as a secretary or waitress.

86toronado, BSN, RN

1 Article; 528 Posts

Specializes in neurology, cardiology, ED.


I'm all for living your dream, but waiting around for the ideal position? Then you're just going to be competing with next year's new graduates, and all of their skills and knowledge will be that much more up to date than yours!


1 Article; 501 Posts

Specializes in PCU, LTAC, Corrections.

I am just a pre-nursing student but I am will give you my :twocents:.

In this economy even the so called recession proof jobs have become much more difficult to get. I completely understand that you don't want to work in an LTC. However, I would take the position. You can at least get some experience outside of a class/lab/clinical setting. While you are working keep sending out resumes...just keep sending then out. Something will turn up.

Don't call it a compromise if you need to pay the bills.

Besides you need to get some experience. If you wait for the job you want...you could end up competing with GN's who graduate at the end of the summer maybe even the GN's who graduate in Dec.

I also hope to work in an ICU (either the NICU or PICU) when I finish school (in 2012 :yeah:) however if I had to take a job in a LTC while on the Job Search I would.

Getting experience with any patient population is much better than just having passed the NCLEX alone.

Good luck in your decision.


148 Posts

Specializes in ASC, Infection Control.

thank you to all those who replied!! i really, truly appreciate your insight and advice :wink2:

i am very fortunate that my parents will help me pay bills while i secure a job...and i've decided that i will pretty much take whatever i can get for now. i will continue to pursue a hospital position, but if ltc is my only option, i will take it - i realize that even though ltc is not my goal, i will gain experience and be exposed to situations that i would otherwise not be if i'm just sitting around waiting for the ideal job to come!! now just gotta find someone to hire me!! :chuckle

thank you again, your thoughts have helped me figure this out! good luck to all of you!!!

Specializes in Ortho, Neuro, Detox, Tele.

a job is a job, and having the money helps a lot....so that's all my opinion is. Get that expierence...working nights in LTC has REALLY helped me learn how to make do, and what is really important, and what is not....it's helped me relearn some great skills. I say take it for now, and get the other job when it comes along.


144 Posts

Specializes in Surgical ICU.

I say take the job,.. though you might not see it now,.. you will be gaining a tremendous amount of experience for ICU patients in LTC. You might not be playing around with all the lines and drips,... buuutttt,.. who do you think ends up in the ICU anyway? Its not a 20yr old with a perfect heart and perfect lungs who can bounce back from anything short of getting hit by a bus. Its that CHF patient , that patient who's had COPD for 20yrs, that patient who's had diabetes for 20yrs and now someone's cut his toenail wrong and here comes full blown sepsis. It would be a great challenge to help these people cope with their diseases in this less acute state and really learn about them before going into the ICU. I myself luv the ICU and that is where I'm hoping my first position to be, but I wouldn't discount or shy away from LTC. And you said something about making a difference and a great impact on peoples lives,.. if you ever see how horrible these LTC facilities sometimes treat their patients you will see that you can also make a huge impact on their lives as well.


118 Posts

You really need to let your cover letter and resume stand out. I sent out my cover letter and in it I let my passion for nursing show. I got a call 2 days later from a hospital to work in the ICU. This was 3 weeks ago. I told her that I am not taking my boards until the 10th of this month and she told me as soon as I find out I passed then to call her. I have no back ground in health care but, its all about what you say in your resume. I feel that the cover letter is the key to let your self shine. Good luck on your Job Search!!.:yeah: You'll do fine.


150 Posts

Specializes in Oncology.

I agree with the other posters regarding LTC being a great learning experience. However, as a previous social worker (nursing is my second degree), I worked in LTC for many years. I have seen the results of people working there just for a check. If you go into LTC and find that you dislike it as much as you think you will, then get out. As nurses we must think of the patient first in all circumstances. You getting a check is secondary to providing care and compassion to these patients. Who knows! Maybe you will get into LTC and love it!


621 Posts

it always seems easier to get a job when you already have a job.


11 Posts

In this economy....a nursing job at an LTC is better than having to put down you have no REGISTERED NURSE experience on your application. Even if money is not an issue....definitely work where ever you can to gain experience. In the end...all of it will translate in your dream job like the ICU. I am in the same boat and recently got hired for a LTC position....but I am not gonna stop applying....I just have more stuff to fill out on application....and I will be a step above new Grads who will be churned out every 6 months. GL.....

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