I'd like to work for free at a hospital, for a while at least. Is this even possible?


It might sound a bit crazy but I guess I've become a bit desperate. I am from Toronto, Ontario, Canada and graduated with a bachelor's degree in nursing 8 months ago. My interest is in adult acute care and I would like to work in a med/surg unit or similar. But, like my colleagues, I've graduated as a generalist RN (I passed my licensing exam) so, I don't have any specialty training.

I've searched almost all hospitals within a 70 mile radius that offer full/part time RN employment that I might qualify for and that is in my area of interest. After searching for jobs since graduating and getting only one interview so far and not hearing back from 99% of places I apply to...

I'm wondering if anybody knows if it were possible to work for free for a few months at a hospital, like a probation period but without pay. My hope is that I could come to an agreement with the unit manager that after a few months, if the unit manager is satisfied with my progress, perhaps I'll offered employment? Even if I don't get the job, what I lose in income I'll gain in experience which is what I desperately need. Every week that passes is another week that my references forget more about me and a struggle to re-study all that was routine when I was back in school.

I know it sounds stupid and you might suggest that I have professionals look over my resume and such but I really don't think that my resume/cover letter are the issue.

I'm quite serious about this...not just fanciful thinking. So, does anybody know if this is remotely possible or even legal or permissible? I'm also not sure how unionized work places might react to such a work agreement (if it were possible).

Even better, does anybody know of any internship programs for new RNs anywhere in Canada (I'll go wherever)?

Editorial Team / Admin

Silverdragon102, BSN

1 Article; 39,477 Posts

Specializes in Medical and general practice now LTC. Has 35 years experience.

You may need to consider getting on the casual list first and then work your way up to full time. Also are you prepared to move as moving around may also only be an option

Check out the Canadian forum


47 Posts

Call the nurse recruiter and ask about unpaid new grad nurse internships. A lot of hospitals are doing this now. In fact, I just had an interview today with the nurse recruiters of 3 hospitals. It's not a paid RN job, but at least it gives me a chance to see some procedures and network with the DoN's for future job openings. At the hospital where I plan to intern at however, they only let us do vitals, learn how RN's organize their time, talk to patients, etc. However, the NR said that these interns are given priority at the end of the internship if they decide to work there.