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New grad BSN moving to Honolulu (ADVICE)

by Julia Matthews Julia Matthews (New) New Student


I am going to be graduating from the University of Iowa with a BSN next May (2021). I want to permanently move to Hawaii and have been doing tons of research. My understanding is that it is extremely competitive to get a new grad job within a hospital there. I would ideally like to be in Honolulu, but if that's not possible I will be happy anywhere there! A lot of the forums I have been reading are a few years old, so I'm wondering if it is still really that competitive. I want to get over there as soon as I can, but I am not willing to work in a support staff position - if I need to stay on the mainland and get experience for a year I will do so instead. I also am hoping to pursue my DNP in nurse midwifery so I would ideally like to work in a labor and delivery, mother baby, nursery unit! Does anyone have any advice or tips on this topic? I am so excited to move to Hawaii and want to get there ASAP!

I know I'm asking for a lot, but I can be very flexible and I am willing to stay in the midwest to get experience for a year or two if it means having a better chance of securing a job in Hawaii in the long run, I just don't want to totally crush my dream of heading over there right after school if I don't have to!

Thanks so much:)

Edited by Julia Matthews

Nunya, BSN

Specializes in NICU/Mother-Baby/Peds/Mgmt. Has 39 years experience.

What I would do is call HR at a couple hospitals you're interested in and talk to them. They'll be able to give you UTD info on whether they hire new grads, and they might even tell you what base pay is right now. Then look at the cost of living. I'm sure the pay is good but the COL is incredibly high. I know several years ago a guy I knew who was military saidbhe'd love to move back there (it was home) but he wouldn't be able to afford it. And that was with a military pension and still working. Good luck, I'd love to hear what they tell you cuz Hawaii is beautiful!

adventure_rn, BSN

Specializes in NICU, PICU.

I promise I'm not trying to crush your dreams, but realistically you're going to need to cast a much wider net.

If you were dead set on moving to HI, I was going to suggest that you apply not only to hospitals, but also to nursing homes, LTACHs, prisons, and other lower-competition jobs. But for L&D? Your chances become exponentially smaller.

Even in the least desirable cities in the country, L&D is a tough specialty to break into. Within the continental US, you will still have to cast a wide net to get your foot in the door. Once you have experience, it will be much easier to land a dream job in HI (although you still may have to wait a while for a position to open up).

Here's the thing: there aren't a ton of hospitals in HI, so they don't need a ton of nurses. Many of the people who do L&D love it and stay there for their entire careers; with low turnover, new jobs may not open up very often. I'd imagine that the tiny handful of new grad L&D jobs will give preference to the local students who have completed their clinicals there.

If you do gain a few years of L&D experience and find that you're still having trouble getting a job in HI, you might need to get some med-surg experience so that you can apply for a larger pool of jobs. Once you get your foot in the door (even if it's in a non OB specialty), it might be easier to transfer into L&D as an internal candidate.

There's no harm in applying in HI as a new grad to just see what happens. Maybe you'll get super lucky and land a job there right out of school. Even now, you could try applying in HI to both L&D and med-surg jobs, with the hope of transferring into L&D after a year or two. Regardless, you should also apply to a ton of jobs in the continental US as well, especially if you're set on L&D.

No matter what, do not move out to HI without a job offer in hand. As @Elaine M said, it's crazy expensive, and you could go for a long stretch of time before you find a job.

Adding to the cost of living discussion--about five years ago I did a national comparison for the best and worst places to work as a nurse. In a few different articles, I read that HI was dead last in the category of nursing salary vs. cost of living (followed by DC and NYC). I don't honestly know what that looks like day-to-day, but @Elaine M brings up a pretty important concern. The longer you wait to move, the higher your salary will be because you'll have more experience (the nurses with decades of experience are probably making double what the new grads make).

Edited by adventure_rn

Nunya, BSN

Specializes in NICU/Mother-Baby/Peds/Mgmt. Has 39 years experience.

I have lived in Hawaii (was not a RN then), but I have enough knowledge to tell you to prepare to work in the Midwest to get experience. The only chance you would have would be to work long-term care / SNF. It is very hard for new grads that are from Hawaii to get hospital jobs, much less for an outsider. Peruse the Hawaii forum here and you will see most new grads have to work as an unit secretary / aide for a year before they can get an RN position. And consider this is happening to people who graduated from there and are known from their clinicals. L&D, nope not going to happen. Go ahead and apply, but DO NOT move there without a signed job contract in hand. You also need to decide what is more important - your goal to work in Hawaii or your goal for a DNP in midwifery. You will have a lot more luck getting the experience needed for the DNP goal by going elsewhere. Goal setting is important. But having an achievable goal is step one to success. Just my 2 cents.