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Bold and Brassy or Smart and Strategic?

Nurse Beth   (382 Views 2 Comments)
by Nurse Beth Nurse Beth, MSN (Advice Column) Writer Innovator Expert

Nurse Beth has 30 years experience as a MSN and works as a Nursing Professional Development Specialist.

14 Followers; 88 Articles; 226,125 Visitors; 1,753 Posts


Dear Nurse Beth,

Do you have any suggestions for how to obtain an acute care position or acute care experience when you are no longer considered a new grad?

Last April, my family and I relocated to TX from CA where I had completed 1 year working as a pediatric nurse on a med-surg unit. I planned to work in my new home state as a pediatric nurse but have been unable to obtain a position in the hospital setting because local hospitals all want 2 years of acute care experience. I took a job as a school nurse because I needed the income but it's not a good fit for me long term. I have looked into Versant and fellowship opportunities but they are only for recent new grads. I would welcome any suggestions you may have. Thank you!

Dear Not New Grad,

You are right, you are no longer eligible for residency positions but you do have 1 year of experience. If the job posting says "2 yrs exp preferred," then go ahead and apply.

If the 2 yrs is actually required (a hard stop), then you will need perseverance and you may need to consider some bold strategies. 

Cold Call

Bold strategies can be risky, and they can also be very effective. An example of a bold strategy (described in my book below) is a strategic cold call on the nurse manager. 

To cold call a nurse manager, pick a nurse manager on a unit that is hiring. To find out his/her name, call admin and ask for the name of the nurse manager on the targeted unit.

Do Your Homework

Then make a copy of your 1-2 page resume and your 1 page, captivating cover letter.

Both should be targeted to the facility- for example, if the hospital is in a Hispanic populated area, you would highlight your Spanish speaking skills or experience working with that population. If the hospital uses Epic, and you are familiar with Epic, you would be sure and mention that. Did you have perfect attendance, and have you had customer service training, such as AIDET? Include those.

Know the mission and values, and find out what the major service lines are. Find out if the hospital has any awards or special accreditations such as Chest Pain Center, or Stroke Certified.

Drop In

Dress nicely, as if for an interview, and "drop-in" on the manager on a Monday or Friday.  There are likely to be fewer scheduled meetings, and he/she is more apt to be in the office. Always be prepared for interview questions, but this is not an interview, unless the manager makes it one.

Be brief, be highly respectful of their time, and express your thanks. The purpose is to let them know you are interested in their unit, and to make a memorable impression. 

"Hi, my name is Shelby Jones. I'm a pediatric nurse, newly transferred from California, and I've heard this is a great unit. Would it be OK if I left you a copy of my work history?' 

Leave your contact information. Have some business cards made with your picture and leave your card. The reason for the picture is give them a visual image, which is otherwise lacking in traditional applications. This alone gives you an edge. Note- never put your picture on a resume or cover letter.

Will some managers be annoyed and direct you to HR? Yes. But even those managers will inwardly admire your spunk and will recognize your name later when your application comes across their desk. If they do direct you to HR, smile and say thank you. "Is there anyone in particular I should ask for?" 

Remember, you have more to gain than you have to lose.

Other Tips

Have you tried other units, such as MedSurg, just to get into the hospital? It is better to get your foot in the door than to get the specialty you want. My concern is that if you stay out of the acute care setting for too long, it can be difficult to get back in. So time is of the essence.

Finally, join a professional organization in your area and attend the meetings. Network and let everyone know you are looking for a job. With your 1 year of experience, some confidence and determination, you can do this.

Best wishes, 

Nurse Beth

Author, "Your Last Nursing Class: How to Land Your First Nursing Job"...and your next!

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GatorMikeRN has 16 years experience as a BSN and works as a Nurse Educator/Home Health Pediatric Nurse.

39 Visitors; 5 Posts

I'm in agreement with Nurse Beth. Get out and be bold. I have done similar and it comes down to- Who would a manager want to hire? the RN who's showing up and calling or not? If I were in a hiring position, I would tend to think the RN who's knocking on doors and making things happen(just like we need to with our patients as their advocate). Best of luck in your endeavors and you can do it!


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