Need advice on working nights, commuting, and grad school for FNP

Nurses Career Support


Well yesterday was the big nclex day and now that I've got that out of the way .. I've got to figure out where I want to work. I have a choice between working med-surg at a small county hospital in my small town OR commuting two hours to work at a big, fancy non-profit hospital in the city. The city hospital has a weekend program where you work friday, saturday, sunday one week and the next week work saturday, sunday. It's 12 hr shifts, full-time pay and benefits. I'd love to try this, but I have some reservations. For one, the orientation is a month long (5 days/8 am -4:30 pm) and I would have to drive every day to be there or stay there all week away from my family. During the weekends, once I got through the orientation program, I would be able to stay free-of-charge at the hospital. Another catch is that I would be working nights. I'm not really a night person, but I think I could adjust. I am just concerned working the nights and then driving back and forth every weekend might wear me out - plus the orientation. Anyone been through the same sort of thing and have some advice? I NEED it DESPERATELY!

..... and just a few additional factors - #1 insurance is a problem - they use a PPO and all our doctors are here in town - and #2 my car is not in the best shape and I would have to get a new one very soon if I will be driving distances #3 I want to start grad school in the fall and I thought working weekends would make it easier to pursue this and #4 benefits/pay at the big hospital are much better than at the small county hospital

Any suggestions??!!

Sorry so long ... as you can tell I've got a lot on mind ... and not the least worrying if I passed the nclex ...

THANKS .. hope everyone is having a great nite


Daytonite, BSN, RN

4 Articles; 14,603 Posts

Specializes in med/surg, telemetry, IV therapy, mgmt.
The city hospital has a weekend program where you work friday, saturday, sunday one week and the next week work saturday, sunday. It's 12 hr shifts, full-time pay and benefits. I'd love to try this, but I have some reservations. . .I am just concerned working the nights and then driving back and forth every weekend might wear me out -

I was in administration at a large teaching city hospital that offered a similar program. They had two groups of full times RNs. Those working 8 hour shifts Monday thru Friday, and those working 12 hour shifts Saturday and Sunday. The weekend people got a lot of extra bonus money and there were a lot of people who were going back to school that opted for the weekend program.

Now, the downside to this was that they were terribly understaffed and very, very busy. The weekend people got a lot of admissions and admissions take up a lot of your time because of initial assessment and getting admitting orders instituted. The weekend nurses complained that they never had any time for breaks. We almost never put a brand new RN on the weekend shifts because it was too hard for them to handle until they got some experience. If this hospital is willing to hire you, a new grad, to work weekend nights I'm wondering why. As a new grad you need to be with seasoned people to help you learn the ropes. My experience tells me that they are looking for work horses.

As a new grad I would not recommend a job like this although you do have to get your feet wet eventually, don't you? If you take that job, expect to work hard.

As for the commute, when I lived out in the boonies you had no choice. If you take that job I wouldn't drive back and forth every day. I'd look into some sort of temporary housing where you could stay during the weeks you are in orientation and just go back home on the weekends. When the auto industry was hit hard with layoffs back in the 80's my brother, who was an engineer, was layed off from GM. He worked though a job shop (temporary agency) but it was in a town 200 miles away. He had an apartment that he shared with another person also working through the job shop. He stayed at the apartment during the weekdays and drove back home on Friday evenings and went back on Sunday evenings. He did that for a year and when GM offered him work at the town he was commuting to, he took the offer and moved his family to the new town. The question is, how badly do you want that job, and what are you willing to sacrifice for it?

Does the big city hospital offer membership in a credit union as one of their benefits? I bet they do. . .credit unions approve a lot of loans for cars for employees of the businesses that use them. Once you are in a full-time RN postion you shouldn't have any trouble getting financing on a new car through a credit union. That is, assuming you don't have any problems with your credit. Credit unions and some car dealerships realize that RNs make a good wage and some are willing to get you into your next car.

PPO medical insurance should cover any doctor you want to use. You may end up paying a little more out of your pocket to satisfy a deductible because the doctors in your town are not official providers for the insurance company they use, but you will have coverage. The main thing you want is to be covered for unexpected hospitalization and big price tag items like CAT scans and outpatient surgery. Most insurances want places to call them for pre-authorization for the big ticket items these days anyway and the providers of these services are usually very aware of this. I'd check with this big hospital. Lots of hospitals I worked at over the years took only the insurance assignment for lab, x-rays, etc., if employees had those services performed at their hospital. Most PPOs cover lab and x-ray services at almost 100%. Are you sure the PPO isn't one of the big insurance providers?

There is no doubt that you will get loads of experience at the big city hospital, but be prepared for the stress of learning your new profession. It takes 6 months or more to become comfortable in your new profession as an RN. You really should not be going back to school at the same time because it will be very hard on you.


116 Posts

Thanks for the advice Daytonite. It feels good to have a seasoned nurse's perspective and insight. I'll try to use the info you gave me to make a good decision. I know that they do have two new grads on the weekend program, so they do put new grads in that program - I just don't know how hard it is. I was hoping working nights would give me a slower pace to get used to the new environment. Thanks again.



116 Posts

Please! Feel free to contribute - I need all the help I can get.


Trauma Columnist

traumaRUs, MSN, APRN

97 Articles; 21,237 Posts

Specializes in Nephrology, Cardiology, ER, ICU.

Personally, I would strongly factor in the family. If your children are young and dependent on you for care, then I would stick with the small, close-to-home job and just commute for school. Grad school will give you some experience in clinicals (you have to have at least 500 hours) that your lack of "big city" hospital experience won't be a problem. Just my take on it.

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