Does working during nursing school help new grads get jobs?

  1. Hi all,

    From these boards, I see that a lot of new grads have had trouble finding work as an RN. It sounds like even having a year or two of working experience makes a huge difference to potential employers. I'm currently a student and I'm wondering if I should start working as a CNA now so I'll have a few years of work to put down on my resume by the time I graduate. I know the jobs of RNs and CNAs are very different, but in the eyes of an employer, would a new grad with a few years experience as a CNA put one at a significant advantage over other new grads without any work experience?

    Thanks for your help!
  2. Visit moofy profile page

    About moofy

    Joined: May '09; Posts: 2

    18 Comments

  3. by   squee-gee
    It's absolutely a good idea to get a job as a CNA while you're in NS! First, you are getting your foot in the door of the hospital, which may make it easier to land a job there. Unfortunately, it doesn't always turn into a position, beause most hospitals have quite a few nursing students working for them, and they can't hire them all. At least you will have your job experience to put on your resume - which would be an obvious advantage over a new grad with no experience. Second good reason to work as a CNA is the experience - clinical experience of course, but also experience just talking to and getting used to working closely with patients. When I started nursing school I had no experience in the medical field whatsoever. I got a job as a CNA and it really helped me get over feeling awkward and tounge-tied. Lastly, you can make connections while working in a hospital - become friendly with the other nurses and nurse managers, and network so when you do graduate you will have a list of people you can call on during your job search. You will also have some really great references.

    I realize some people already have jobs while in school - I did, too. However, I knew this was something I really needed to do, so I worked one to two 8 hour shifts per week in addition to my regular job, plus nursing school. In the summer when school was out I worked more shifts. It was really, really hard - but so worthwhile.

    Good Luck to you!
  4. by   CrufflerJJ
    Quote from moofy
    From these boards, I see that a lot of new grads have had trouble finding work as an RN. It sounds like even having a year or two of working experience makes a huge difference to potential employers. I'm currently a student and I'm wondering if I should start working as a CNA now so I'll have a few years of work to put down on my resume by the time I graduate. I know the jobs of RNs and CNAs are very different, but in the eyes of an employer, would a new grad with a few years experience as a CNA put one at a significant advantage over other new grads without any work experience?
    In my "past life" as an engineering manager, I can tell you that you NEED some work experience to help you stand out from applicants lacking it. It doesn't even need to be in your job area. A job history (especially if over 1 year long) helps reassure potential employers that you're not a "flake" who can't get along with people. It can also suggest that you would be a responsible/reliable employee, able to hold a job for a good length of time.

    It will also give you some good real life experiences which you can put to use when answering interview questions, such as "tell me about a time where you had a conflict with an employer/customer/coworker & how you handled the situation." If you have no work experience, that sort of question can be difficult to answer (especially if it is thrown at you with no advanced warning).

    As squee-gee said, working as a CNA gives you both an "in" at a hospital, but it also lets you practice basic patient care skills which will come in handy as a nurse. It also puts you in touch with people who may be aware of job openings at other hospitals. Think job references - working as a CNA will allow you to "cultivate" (impress, brown nose, whatever) people who might be good job references for you when you start your job search in the future.
  5. by   jayde_RN
    From my experience, it will help you to get a job on that unit or maybe within that particular facility. However, as a december grad who just had their first interview yesterday, I will tell you that it may or may not help you get a job anywhere else. But it may all depend on what area you are in and how competitive it is. I had an intern position in my last year of nursing school and am still having trouble finding a job!
    Hope that helps!
  6. by   NewRN2008
    I did not work, but i know for a fact it helps. the hospital i work at is on a hiring freeze right now. we had 3 CNA's that grad'ed from nrsg school, if it wasnt for the fact that they worked there for a while and that we have a spectacular nm they wouldnt have jobs.
    -H-RN
  7. by   WalkieTalkie
    Hospitals and the like are more likely to hire "insiders" who have worked as CNAs for a multitude of reasons. For one thing, it costs a lot less to train them as they have already been through the general orientation, know the policies and procedures, etc. Another reason, is that if you have worked there, then they know your track record and whether or not you are a dependable employee.

    It's absolutely a good idea to get your foot in the door.
  8. by   RNperdiem
    It helps mainly if you work at a hospital that hires new grads.
    I worked for four years as a CNA at a community hospital, and when I graduated I talked to the nurse recruiter who shrugged and said " we don't hire new grads and do not have the resources to train them".
  9. by   I RN A
    Yes. 100% absolutely helps. I'm a new grad. It is very hard to find your first nursing job. I worked as a student nurse, which is sort of like CNA, and I got a lot of calls back from potential employers. Also when you work in a hospital, while in a nursing school, it will help you to learn a lot. A lot of times nurses on the floor will teach you nursing skills and you can learn a lot just by observation. I think working on the floor while I was in a nursing school had given a lot of practice, patient-nurse interactions and self confidence to me.
  10. by   ANH_RN
    I started working on a psych floor at the hospital that I was probably going to get a job at when I graduated. I am so glad I did. Not only did I learn the ropes but I learned the computer systems, the doctors, the protocols, etc etc. I can NOT IMAGINE having started out at the hospital I'm at now not knowing what I would not have known had I not been an aide. Does that make sense?

    Also everyone at the hospital knew me and quite frankly it was easy for me to get a job there.
  11. by   Irene joy
    Yes, definitely work as a CNA or Tech. My hospital employs nurse techs, nursing students who have passed level two. All techs that I know have gotten the job they wanted before they even graduated.
  12. by   jenw922
    I would def reccomend working as a CNA in a hospital/area you want to work in. My hospital is only considering a new grad if they currently work in the hospital.
  13. by   86toronado
    IMHO I'd say working as a CNA or tech, or even a unit clerk is just about the best way to get a job at graduation time. Try and do your research, and find a job at a hospital that:
    A) you could see yourself working at as a nurse
    B) hires new grads regularly
    C) has a decent training program for both nurses and ancillary staff

    Once you're there, be responsible, on time, and willing to help out with just about anything. Consider it a 1-2 year (or 3-4 if you're a BSN student) job interview. The job I am about to start was very sought after, but I didn't even interview for it. Just expressed an interest to the nurse manager, who knew my work ethic and level of commitment. Several days later, I was congratulated on landing the job.
  14. by   ShiphrahPuah
    Absolutely. I graduated in May 2008, and I think everyone in my class who was already working in a hospital had jobs lined up early while I still know other students who graduated with me a year ago who still have not found work. It will make you stand out from all the other new grads. All the hospitals in my area that have specific new grad programs have posted on their websites that all their new grad slots for May 2009 graduates have been filled by internal hires. No matter what you do in a hospital (CNA, unit clerk, even ER registration which is what I did) will give you experience that will help you. You get a chance to show you are hard working, you learn the computer system, you meet lots of people on staff and have lots of possibilities for references, you get more comfortable with patients, and you get a feel for the workings of a hospital.

close