Do some new grads become stale and never get a job?

Nurses Career Support

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I spent many months last year trying to find a hospital entry level RN job, and didn't have any luck. So I took a job in a nursing home. I know some people may think at least I'm lucky that I have a job, but I really wanted to get acute care experience. I am basically just passing out meds and charting. Not starting IVs, or doing anything that requires higher skills.

I just need that 'first' hospital job, in order to be more marketable as an RN.

I have applied to practically every hospital in my area, and farther, some even 50 miles away- online, in person, called, etc. and always get told that they are looking for someone with 'acute care' experience, or that they will call me if they consider me for a new grad position. I've even had a few friends give me referrals, and still no luck.

BUT what happens when a nurse is no longer a 'new grad'? I graduated over a year ago, and never got the chance to get a new grad job.

Is it possible that I may never get a hospital job at this point? I have also heard that many hospitals don't consider LTC or nursing home experience as valuable experience when it comes to choosing a candidate, since it's not 'acute care'. I also know that I need to have an orientation in acute care, since I wouldn't feel comfortable just jumping into the job w/o the proper orientation.

Is it possible that some nurses NEVER get a hospital job? I have considered taking a refresher nursing course, but will it even count , or would recruiters even consider that valuable?

I am so disappointed, that I just don't know what else to do. I've even applied to other states nearby, and still no luck.

I have also thought about going back to school for an MSN, but I hear they require at least 1 yr acute care experience before doing the clinicals. So I may not even be able to do that.

KCR411

56 Posts

I am currently in the same situation. I could have written your note myself-word for word-except I don't have a job-not even in a Nursing home!

I am trying very hard to hold on...

any suggestions?

llg, PhD, RN

13,469 Posts

Specializes in Nursing Professional Development.

I believe the "rules of thumb" are changing with the current upheaval in the economy ... and that even after we get some economic recovery, things will not go back to exactly the same as it was before. So, I would recommend keeping an open mind as you look at the possibilities for the future.

Eventually, things will start to pick up economically and hospitals will start hiring again. That's inevitable and just a matter of "when," not "if." My hospital has already started hiring a little more than we were 6 months ago. 6 months ago, we were trying to reduce our staffing by not replacing people who left. So we were hiring virtually nobody. After getting staffing down as low as it could go, we are now hiring to replace those who leave -- and adding a few positions as we see that a few units had their staffing cut a little too low. As more experienced nurses get more comfortable with their economic situations, husbands go back to work, etc., they will drop their hours back to part time, etc. and that will open up more opportunities for nurses looking for jobs. It will happen. It's just that no one can predict the exact timing and details of those recovery changes.

The key for those of you who would like to fill those positions as they open up is to keep yourself marketable. As you already seem to understand, you will be competing with new grads from 2009 and 2010 as well as with some experienced nurses for those jobs. The fact that you are working in nursing will help, but it might not be enough. You need to identify the other things that you can do to demonstrate to a prospective employer that you are an above-average employee and will be a great nurse for them to invest in.

Here are a few ideas off the top of my head:

1. Be sure you get great evaluations from your current employer so that you can show that you are reliable, dependable, pleasant to work with, learn quickly on the job, etc. Serve on a committee or volunteer for a project, etc. that will give you some leadership experience and show that you are a leader or at least an outstanding memeber of the team.

2. Keep current by updating your nursing knowledge regularly. Go to a conference or two in your chosen specialty. Get some continuing education in that field. (which you can do at conferences, online, or through nursing journals)

3. Serve as a volunteer at hospitals where you would like to work. Get to know people. Let them know that you would like to be a nurse there.

4. Join local professional organizations and go to the meetings. Volunteer to serve on a committee, etc. Get to know people and let them see that you are a great person.

These types of activities will help you from becoming "stale" and will extend your "shelf life" significantly. They will help you stand out in the crowd of applicants who will want those jobs that will become available in the next few years. They will give you a chance to demonstrate your worth while also giving you connections that may help you find a job or give you a recomendation to help you get a job.

When the job drought breaks, employers will be looking to hire the "best" employees they can find. So while you have to be patient now and wait for things to open up ... you should be doing those things now that will help you appear to be one of the best employees for the future. If all you do is the basic minimum job, then you will look like the basic minimum employee and that will probably not be enough to be the winner in a competitive job market. But for the people who show themselves to be outstanding, I believe that there will be opportunities within the next 2-3 years maybe sooner. Give us an active influenza season ...

Good luck to everyone.

MiaNJ

198 Posts

llg, thanks for all your suggestions. It's great advice.

But I was wondering about volunteering. I actually did a good amount of it as a few hospitals, even before I enrolled in nursing school. I also have volunteered in other social events in my community.

I put that on my resume, but don't think it makes a difference to the recruiters who keep telling me that I need to have acute care experience on my resume, for the positions they have now.

If I do volunteer now, can I do so as an RN? Or would I be like any other hospital volunteer, and help patients with daily tasks, read with them, etc? I know those are important things, since I've done them. But I don't know how other nurses will 'look' at me, when they know I'm an RN, and doing those volunteer tasks that non-nurses usually do.

Will they think I'm strange or something really wrong with me that I have to do that to try and get into the hospital since I still can't find a job?

Or can I actually volunteer as an RN, or at least a CNA?

I don't mind doing non-nurses duties or being an assistant, but I just don't know how others will think, and what recruiters think about that. Do they think it's too desperate or that the volunteer experience doesn't count as actually applying 'nursing' skills?

I will look into joining professional organizations. I already have taken many classes, seminars, other certifications like ALS, PALS, etc. Thanks for all your advice.

llg, PhD, RN

13,469 Posts

Specializes in Nursing Professional Development.

I doubt you can volunteer in a hospital as a nurse. I've never heard of anyone being allowed to to that. But the volunteer office could have some jobs for you that would not be so awkward as ones at the bedside. In fact, I would choose volunteer duties that would NOT involve any role confusion at all -- even if that meant just doing clerical work or something else far from the bedside. You might help out with fund-raising activities, the gift shop, etc. Those types of things might be less awkward. The idea behind volunteering is NOT to use/update your nursing skills, but rather to show your committment to the mission of the hospital and to put you in situations where you might meet people who could support your future job application. The recruiter was right in that it won't help your skills -- but showing a committment to the hospital and networking is never a bad thing.

You might be able to do some volunteer work through your church or through an organization such as The Red Cross or Meals on Wheels or some other charity where you might meet some people in health care. Once again, you might not enhance your acute care skills, but that's not the only reason to volunteer.

MiaNJ

198 Posts

I doubt you can volunteer in a hospital as a nurse. I've never heard of anyone being allowed to to that. But the volunteer office could have some jobs for you that would not be so awkward as ones at the bedside. In fact, I would choose volunteer duties that would NOT involve any role confusion at all -- even if that meant just doing clerical work or something else far from the bedside. You might help out with fund-raising activities, the gift shop, etc. Those types of things might be less awkward. The idea behind volunteering is NOT to use/update your nursing skills, but rather to show your commitment to the mission of the hospital and to put you in situations where you might meet people who could support your future job application. The recruiter was right in that it won't help your skills -- but showing a commitment to the hospital and networking is never a bad thing.

You might be able to do some volunteer work through your church or through an organization such as The Red Cross or Meals on Wheels or some other charity where you might meet some people in health care. Once again, you might not enhance your acute care skills, but that's not the only reason to volunteer.

Yes, I agree that there are many reasons to volunteer,which is why I have done so in the past. I also enjoy it. But I also need to do something to increase my potential for being hired, eventually.

I wouldn't mind volunteering doing something else besides being at a patient's bedside.

But if I tell a volunteer coordinator that I'm an RN, would they they be hesitant to let me volunteer, since they may think that I don't want to do if for a long time..since I want to eventually get a job at that hospital?

I don't mind committing for a few months, if I had to, even if I got a job. But would they be less likely to consider me as a volunteer? I looked into Mt. Sinai nyc volunteer process, and they even ask for recommendation letters to be a volunteer.

So it doesn't seem that simple to volunteer in certain places.

llg, PhD, RN

13,469 Posts

Specializes in Nursing Professional Development.

You won't know until you try. You can sit around and think about all the negatives or you can talk to people at the hospitals of your choice and find out what is possible. If it were me, I'd be talking to the hospitals of my choice and finding out what the possibilities are. If they wanted recommendations, I'd get recommendations. If they wanted people to serve as a greeter in the lobby, I'd be the best darn greeter they ever saw. If they needed someone to collate paperwork, I'd be collating paperwork with a smile. etc. etc. etc.

Give them a call.

Specializes in Geriatrics, Home Health.
I spent many months last year trying to find a hospital entry level RN job, and didn't have any luck. So I took a job in a nursing home. I know some people may think at least I'm lucky that I have a job, but I really wanted to get acute care experience. I am basically just passing out meds and charting. Not starting IVs, or doing anything that requires higher skills.

I just need that 'first' hospital job, in order to be more marketable as an RN.

I'm in the same situation. All I do at my job is pass out meds, change dressings, chart, and occasionally draw blood. I'm trying to figure out what my next move should be. I don't like nursing home patient loads, but at least I would get to use an IV pump.

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