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Got BSN in 2015 and Still Searching for Job

Nurse Beth   (800 Views 10 Comments)
by Nurse Beth Nurse Beth, MSN (Advice Column) Writer Innovator Expert

Nurse Beth has 30 years experience as a MSN and specializes in Med Surg, Tele, ICU, Ortho.

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Dear Nurse Beth,

I decided to change careers from IT to nursing. I went back to school and got my BS in Nursing in December 2015. 

While I was looking for a nursing job in 2016, my mother got sick. I took a break from my job search to take care of her. It took months to get her stabilized and to renovate my home to accommodate her needs. In 2017 while preparing for my mother to move in with me, I went to a nearby top-tier university’s nursing school for their Nurse Refresher certificate course to refresh my nursing skills. 

A few months after I finished, just as I began to look for a nursing job again in 2017 my mom died. A few months after that in early 2018, I was laid off from my job as a Systems Analyst, just three months shy of my twentieth anniversary. Needless to say, I needed some time to get myself together. After a year, I’m finally ready to jump back into the job search. 

I've recently started volunteering at a non-profit health clinic for the indigent and have been applying at hospitals in the Southern NJ and Philadelphia area. I’m also networking with old contacts, fellow students, professors and enlisting the help of family and friends to assist me with my search. Although, I've put in close to 75 online applications, I am seeing either that my resume is staying in a "submitted" status, or I'm getting turned down before I have a chance to interview (filled the position or decided that my qualifications didn’t match their needs and they decided to look at other candidates). I have been called in to interview for 2 positions, but they are for PT RN positions that I have not applied for. Although I need a FT job, I am still going on these interviews because first you never know, second a PT job is better than no job right now, and third it’s good practice for other interviews I may have down the line. 

My question is, given my background and the fact that I’m an “old” new nurse with no experience, is my current strategy the best way for me to look for a FT RN position? I’m not sure if I should tweak it somewhere or just try and be patient. 

I’ve read your book and have found it to be very helpful with preparing my interview and what not to talk about, i.e. I don’t draw attention to the fact that I’m 48 years old; so any advice you can offer would be greatly appreciated!

Thank you for your time! 

Dear Got BSN in 2015 and Searching,

I'm sorry you lost your mother.

The problem you're facing is that, in nursing, it's the kiss of death to not land a job in your first year. The problem is not your age. Managers see your graduation date, see you haven't held a nursing job, and discard your application. The reason for not working does not factor into their decision.

Why is that? As a newly licensed nurse, you have no experience and no bargaining power. In fact you are considered an expensive investment in the first year. And there are plenty of equally inexperienced nurses vying for the chance to be an investment.

At this point, you are doing all the right things:

  • Networking
  • Refresher course (you may need another one)
  • Read my book (read the chapter on bold moves and cold-calling)
  • Interviewed
  • Volunteering

You don't say how long it's been, but it even takes newly graduated nurses months to land a job. Be wary of part-time positions, because you cannot hard-wire your nursing practice working part-time. Part-time is not for novice nurses.

It would be great if you could get a personal reference to bypass the great electronic barrier that keeps you from face-to-face contact. Again, read up in my book on cold-calling and how to do it effectively. You have nothing to lose. Pull out all the stops.

This will boil down to determination and how badly you want this. You will have to make it more of a priority than than your letter and timelines indicate. You got through nursing school, which takes determination and fortitude, so you can do this.

Re-locate if you are able. If you are unable to land a hospital position, try long-term care, dialysis and corrections to get a start.

Best wishes, 

Nurse Beth

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

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I agree that PT is hard for new nurses because it takes constant practice to get those new nurse skills hardwired into your brain.  

But, depending on where you work, it might be relatively easy to pick up additional shifts.  At my job, we are constantly getting texts looking for people to pick up extra.  It's summer vacation season, so every time there's a census surge, there's an opportunity to pick up.  We'll probably see it die down in early fall, and then start getting requests for additional staff once flu season settles in.

OP, I think you're right to get a job, any job, at this point, and go from there. You never know where it will take you.

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Hoosier_RN has 20 years experience as a MSN and specializes in LTC, home health, hospice, ICU, ER, dialysis.

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Look beyond the hospital: LTC, dialysis, clinics, and corrections.  It'll get your skills going, provide a job and experience.  Best of luck to you

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NRSKarenRN has 40 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in Vents, Telemetry, Home Care, Home infusion.

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Southern NJ and Philadelphia area is flooded with new grads, very competitive and with  470+ bed Hahneuman Hospital, Philadelphia closing little room for older grad without RN work experience to get hired.

Look at these off the beaten path positions--Indeed has several  posting for our area:

Vineland Developmental Center (VDC) -- periodically has positions posted; working with developmentally challenged can be difficult until one gets to know their habits/personality.  

Seabrook - Bridgeton, NJ -drug and alcohol TX center

CFG Health Network -Camden,  Correctional Nursing

Rutgers University Correctional Health Care, Juvenile Justice Commission, located in Vineland

Inspira Health Registered Nurse Open House August 15th – New facility in Mullica Hill

Best wishes in your search.

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Chan Chan specializes in RN BS.

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Yeah, this area is completely flooded. 

Dialysis is always hiring. I strongly suggest applying to the big 2 dialysis companies. They offer extensive training. Could be a good transition to a renal med surg unit. Or anything really. 

 

Hope everything worked out for the writer. 

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not.done.yet has 8 years experience as a MSN, RN and specializes in Critical Care; Cardiac; Professional Development.

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Once you specialize in dialysis it is extremely hard to get consideration for anything else. If you want to be in dialysis that isn’t a problem, but if you want to be pretty much anywhere else you probably shouldn’t go that route. Obviously if you need to work and dialysis is what the universe presents, you should take it, but given choices it should be pretty low on the list unless it’s where you really want to be.

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Chan Chan specializes in RN BS.

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On 8/17/2019 at 7:48 AM, not.done.yet said:

Once you specialize in dialysis it is extremely hard to get consideration for anything else. If you want to be in dialysis that isn’t a problem, but if you want to be pretty much anywhere else you probably shouldn’t go that route. Obviously if you need to work and dialysis is what the universe presents, you should take it, but given choices it should be pretty low on the list unless it’s where you really want to be.

It seems like she really just needs to start working. That's what I took from it. 

 

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On 8/17/2019 at 7:48 AM, not.done.yet said:

Once you specialize in dialysis it is extremely hard to get consideration for anything else. If you want to be in dialysis that isn’t a problem, but if you want to be pretty much anywhere else you probably shouldn’t go that route. Obviously if you need to work and dialysis is what the universe presents, you should take it, but given choices it should be pretty low on the list unless it’s where you really want to be.

OP is four years post graduation, and has never worked as a nurse - I think that qualifies as take "what the universe presents" and be grateful territory.

While dialysis might not be the most common route to acute care, it's not necessarily a dealbreaker. One of the newer nurses on our oncology floor has a background in dialysis.  Not sure how she spun it at the interview, but I think dialysis has many of the elements of acute care. In any event, it's better to have dialysis on your resume than the nothing that's currently on OP's.

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Hoosier_RN has 20 years experience as a MSN and specializes in LTC, home health, hospice, ICU, ER, dialysis.

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7 hours ago, Chan Chan said:

It seems like she really just needs to start working. That's what I took from it. 

 

 

2 minutes ago, turtlesRcool said:

OP is four years post graduation, and has never worked as a nurse - I think that qualifies as take "what the universe presents" and be grateful territory.

While dialysis might not be the most common route to acute care, it's not necessarily a dealbreaker. One of the newer nurses on our oncology floor has a background in dialysis.  Not sure how she spun it at the interview, but I think dialysis has many of the elements of acute care. In any event, it's better to have dialysis on your resume than the nothing that's currently on OP's.

My thoughts exactly!

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not.done.yet has 8 years experience as a MSN, RN and specializes in Critical Care; Cardiac; Professional Development.

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I don't disagree.

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