Help me decide what job to take! New Grad Angst

Dear Nurse Beth Advice Column - The following letter submitted anonymously in search for answers. Join the conversation! Nurses Nurse Beth Nursing Q/A


Hello Nurse Beth,

I am about to graduate with my second bachelor's in nursing. I moved to a new city for the program but knew I wasn't going to stay here. I have applied all over including my home state (CA-which is hard to get a job for new grads) and have gotten a few interviews and offers in some other states and cities. One offer is for an adult cardiac step-down unit in a magnet hospital in a city that I've been to and like, and have some friends who live there or will be moving to start a job there as well. I have always worked with kids and want to be a pediatric nurse. This offer requires a 2-year commitment with the hospital but you can switch units if you want within those two years. Side note: I've applied for the children's hospital residency in this city as well but have yet to hear back (it's a ranked hospital as well). 

I also got an offer in a different city that I never imagined or wanted to move to but had told myself I could live anywhere for a year if it was for a good experience. This city is much smaller, a poorer city, and known for its tourist destination which could be fun for a year or so or could be awful. (I can disclose cities if you want just figured I'd try to avoid bias LOL). This offer is for a stand-alone children's hospital, it does not require a commitment, and it would give me peds experience.

The extremely stressful dilemma I am in (IDK any nurses or have anyone in healthcare in my family or friends) is - do I take an offer at a more well known and ranked magnet hospital, in a city I like, in a good unit, but working with a patient population I don't think I want to work with, in hopes I can get experience and get a peds job in the future? Or do I move to a city I don't know much about or care for, to get specialty experience, and just see it as a year of experience that I can use to get a job in a city I want to move to in the future?

I don't think it would be such a dilemma for me if my 29th birthday wasn't approaching and the impending aging doom was subconsciously affecting me. I have this fear of bouncing around cities (again after this year in a new city) which would mean I have less of a chance of settling and planting some roots.

It seems obvious that I should go with the specialty but I'm so torn and pros and cons lists aren't helping, and I've been obsessively trying to make this decision for weeks. So, I figured any outside source could help. I appreciate you taking the time to read this and thank you for letting me rant!! ??

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Specializes in Tele, ICU, Staff Development.

Dear Wants to be Peds Nurse,

Congratulations on having 2 job offers! That is wonderful. So many new grads have trouble just landing one offer, and it's ironic that here you are with 2 job a dilemma!

Like you said, the pros and cons method doesn't solve your problem because line items are not equally weighted. You could have just 1 pro that outweighs 5 cons, right?

Likewise, I (or anyone) could convincingly argue for either option:

You should absolutely go with the magnet hospital because the city is great, you have friends (work-life balance), and you can always transfer later to Peds. You will learn a lot, get an amazing foundation at a ranked hospital that will be awesome on your resume! You won't regret it!

The small hospital in a poor city may have a sketchy orientation program, fewer resources, and is less likely to have evidence-based practices. They don't require a commitment, what is that, a hiring angle? Almost all reputable hospitals require a commitment. Besides, how many nurses change their preferences within a year or two? Lots. Be smart.


You should definitely go with the hospital offering you Peds because that's where your heart is, one year is nothing in the grand scheme of things and the time will fly by. The city isn't important, a prestigious hospital isn't important, the specialty trumps all. Don't not pick it out of fear (city-jumping at the age of 29), fear is never a good reason to base a decision. You want Peds and you were offered Peds! Why would you not go for it!

Magnet hospitals are overrated and you don't want adults, much less adult cardiac stepdown! You'll make new friends easily. Go with your passion and sacrifice a nice city for your end goal.

You may be stuck in analysis paralysis at this point. So I'm going to assume you've weighed all the factors such as salary, growth opportunities, benefits and so on.

If you and I were in the same room right now, I'd toss a coin in the air and make you call Heads or Tails without letting you think about it, Heads being Peds, and Tails being Stepdown.

Or I would simply tell you that Heads is Peds, Tails is Stepdown, and watch your reaction when it lands either Heads up or Tails up. Are you dismayed? Or are you happy?

I believe you already have the answer within yourself. It's difficult to get to because of time pressure, anxiety, and fear of making the wrong decision. Talk it through with a friend or family member who knows you well and who you trust. Not necessarily asking them for a decision, because only you can decide. But it's helpful to consider their input, and very helpful to listen to yourself articulate the situation out loud.

  • Which job excites you the most?
  • What do your instincts tell you?

Remember that, in a way, it's all good. In 1 year or 2 years at the most, you will be an experienced nurse who is qualified to go most anywhere.

Best wishes in your choice ?

Specializes in NICU, ICU, PICU, Academia.

Leave the massively unimportant 'ranked hospital' nonsense out of this equation. You know that they basically BUY those 'ranks' , right? 

And just search AN for the number of people who were roped into a two year contract and are now being sued when they tried to get out. 

You want Peds, you were offered Peds- TAKE Peds. 

Specializes in Corrections, Surgical.

Take the specialty that you want. I am willing to move almost anywhere for OR experience, its just a hard specialty to get into. I'm in a specialty right now that I don't care for and I'm basically just counting down the days till I can transfer. 

Specializes in SCRN.

Yes, take the peds job and be done with second guessing?

Impending aging doom at 29? What will you call it when you are 39? Just curious.

Specializes in Psych, Corrections, Med-Surg, Ambulatory.

I, too, vote for the peds job unless something in your gut is saying no.

Prestigious magnet hospitals are a naked emperor.  A nice city might not be such a mitigator if you've locked yourself for 2 years into a job you hate.  It's easy for them to say you can transfer within those 2 years; they might have all kinds of excuses when you ask to do so.  Read the threads on this site by people who signed contracts.

You got offered a job in your specialty of choice with no contract.  What's not to love?  The town might have some hidden gems (like maybe even your life partner; it's been known to happen).  If not, you can get out of Dodge without having to figure out how to get out of a contract.

Yes, you would prefer to stay put once you get somewhere.  That sort of thing is really hard to plan for with your current number of variables.  So go with the obvious:  specialty of choice with no contract.  Best to you.

Specializes in SRNA.

As @meanmaryjane stated, leave the ranking out of the equation.

Go for the experience and pay. When I graduated nursing school few years ago, many of my classmates were trying to get into the big hospital names to buffer their resume meanwhile I sought experience. During a post-nursing school graduation interview without alma mater some were shocked to find out how much I make compared to them...almost a whole $10 more. I went for the experience and pay and they went for the name of the hospital. 

Don't get me wrong, bigger name hospitals do sometime come with better experience but that didn't stop me from excelling as a brand new ER nurse and I work in a low-income area so that should say all the experience I received. 

Take the peds job because you want to be a peds nurse.

Specializes in Pediatrics.

First of all, congratulations on your offers, and I love hearing about your interest in peds!

As an RN in pediatrics myself, I’m going to echo the calls telling you to take the job in peds. If working with children is where your passion is, I personally just do not see huge overlap in any baseline experience you might get at the other facility that would benefit you should you be wanting to end up with a career in pediatrics. Kids are not little adults and there truly is no replication for working in peds except working in peds. 

Good luck to you!