First Nursing Job: Considerations

Landing your first nursing job is a huge feat and a daunting task; here are some criteria to consider for that initial job search. Nurses New Nurse Article

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First Nursing Job: Considerations

With the abundance of nursing opportunities, it may seem overwhelming to begin the Job Search. Nurses can work in numerous settings, from outpatient clinics, schools, physician offices, camps, home healthcare, and nursing homes; however, this article will focus on nursing in the hospital setting. Starting as a nurse in a hospital is the more ‘traditional’ path, and although it does provide an excellent foundation for a career in this field, don’t be afraid to pursue those other settings if they truly entice you.

Jobs for registered nurses are expected to grow 6% over the next ten years, and nurses will continue to be an essential pillar in the healthcare industry. (BLS.gov) So as you start your job search, don’t get discouraged if you can’t find a job immediately; the demand is out there, and it will happen.

What are your priorities?

It’s important to remember that no job is perfect; if there’s one that is, please leave it in a comment below. It is beneficial to go into the job search and interviews knowing your top criteria. This article identifies four key factors to consider: location, specialty, shift, and salary. Although these are not all-encompassing, they do make up the fundamental parts of a job, and being able to prioritize these will help in this upcoming job search.

Where do you want to work?

Are you willing to move? It may seem obvious, but decide how important location is for the job; is having a short commute most important to you? Are you willing to drive/commute longer if the position has everything else you want? Ask yourself if you are tied to a specific city/ state. This was my least important category as a newly graduated nurse because I was looking to move after graduation. Thus, it allowed me to apply to many more jobs with everything else on my list I was looking for.

How passionate are you about a specific specialty?

Some students know before they even graduate what type of nursing they want to go into; pediatrics, oncology, cardiology, emergency, etc., and that’s going to be high up on their list. It’s also okay if a new nurse doesn’t have that ‘calling’ yet; it means they have more positions to apply for to find out what they like the most.  Nurses are constantly exploring new specialties/roles, and if that first job is not in the specialty one ends up loving, that’s okay; it’s common to transfer units within one’s hospital.

Are you prepared to work night shifts?

Do you want 8, 10, or 12-hour long shifts? Some nurses are willing to start with a less-than-ideal schedule to have other things on their priority list. And for others, working nights or rotating between nights and days will not work for them; whether they have other commitments, can’t sleep during the day, etc. It is possible to work solely day shifts as a new nurse if this is going to be set as a high priority.

Do you know the average salary for the position you are applying for?

After all that time in nursing school, it’s time to start getting paid for your time. Hospitals are becoming more competitive with incentives such as loan repayments, tuition reimbursement for further education, and generous salaries. With any new career, it’s essential to research reputable sites to determine pay expectations in your state. It could be very beneficial to also find good resources on negotiating salary for a prospective job. From experience as a nurse working in 2 major cities, large hospitals tend to have a set pay scale based on years of nursing experience. But it is always important to ask for higher pay; then gain specific details if there is a fixed pay for new nurses, how soon/often raises are expected, and what benefits the hospital offers that can contribute to their overall value.  

Takeaways

There’s a real possibility of multiple job offers upon entering the nursing workforce. I genuinely hope one is your goal specialty in your favorite city, with your preferred shift and highly competitive pay. But if this isn’t the case, you might have to make some compromises and being aware of your priorities and what’s most important to you will hopefully help guide you in this time. Finally, this should be an exciting time as you are starting a new job in a highly rewarding career, so try to enjoy the thrill of countless opportunities ahead.

References/Resources

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook

Emily Rice is a Cardiac Cath Lab nurse and a freelance nurse writer.

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