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New Grad No More Continued

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Specializes in ICU. Has 5 years experience.

I read a blog post I wrote a few years back about the struggles of finding that first acute care position as a new grad. As an experienced Nurse, I updated this narrative to conclude that persistence and planning wins all.

New Grad No More Continued

So this morning I start off as I do most days. I scan my email, I look at job postings. I look at updates in my New Grad RN groups. Who's potentially hiring today? The desire for acute care employment is still in the forefront of my mind as it is with many New Grads. Everyone wants to be in a hospital. It's not so much a hospital as it is the number of hands-on with acute care. I am getting a level of experience in post-op/ skilled nursing. Everything encompassing care and communication is still covered but there just seems to be an overall desire to hire from acute care. Everyone asks for a year of acute care. And so an epiphany hit me this morning. I may not be considered a new grad anymore.

This is good and inherently bad. A lot of hospital positions that do open up for those with no acute care want crisp fresh new grads to train. Sure they have anywhere from 3 to 25 openings and thousands of applications per round but that's what they desire. Zip experience elsewhere. Other places say at least one year of nursing experience in acute care.

This closes two doors on me. One..I have experience, but not in acute care outside clinicals that were in *ahem* 2013. I am no longer looked at as a new bird. I passed my NCLEX in March of 2014. With my ACLS and PALS I thought I was more marketable. Not really. A lot of people went after that to make themselves more desirable too.

So where do I stand? I am not a new grad and I have no acute care experience. I desire to eventually be an NP in Pediatrics and I work with geriatrics. Yes, on the healthcare continuum there are a lot of similarities between pediatric and geriatric patients with many of the same considerations for metabolization of medications, safety etc. There are many differences too. I'd like to be exposed to a level that is sort of specializing towards my goal. I drool at the possibility of working in a children's hospital.

I also crave stability. Per diem work is awesome. My employer is awesome but let's face it, I need a solid constant. It would be a dream to land a three-year contract somewhere in acute care. It would provide the fundamental base for acquiring home for my Son and me, expanding my education for my BSN and eventually Masters. And this morning I am looking at these postings..and overlooking my four to eight a day applications and wondering is it a viable decision to go out of state?

California is a dark cloud when it comes to New Grads in Nursing. They are making a killing and turning out hundreds of new grads every 16 weeks and the hospitals are begging for personnel.. with a year minimum of acute care experience. We are over saturated and picky. Everyone cries out about a nursing shortage but there are many of us who are not working yet because we don't meet the minimum criteria.

It's like hospitals are looking for unicorns and all we are looking for is jobs.

On the outskirts of all this, we have lives. Kids...families to support. It's a lot of pressure. And now I may not have that brand on my assets that marks me as minty new. I may not be seen as a New Grad. I have mixed emotions about this and just keep trucking. Any experience is good experience in my eyes. I learn something new every day and frankly, I love what I do irregardless.

I will explore more options to get myself where I need to be. Even if it's not as a New Grad anymore.

Two years later....

One of the greatest struggles I had as a new grad was just this. The search. As soon as the stress of getting into, getting through and passing the boards was over I was left with my hands in the air.

Pick me...Pick me. And no one did.

I worked per Diem for a little over 8 months driving six days a week more than an hour away (each way) to a position that I enjoyed but was not acute care. I was working all the shifts (all of them). 7AM to 3PM. Yup. 3-11... yup. 11-7? Also yes. Was I working doubles? More than once. People just didn't show sometimes and I was already there so as part of my naivety and not wanting to "abandon" my patients I would stay. Nights consisted of me, 54 patients, three CNA's and Jesus.

Then I found out I was being paid at least 13 dollars less than staff..and I was registry. But I kept on. I loved the staff, loved the patients and just worked. I was tired. But an opening came in long term acute care and I ran at it full speed. I quickly found out...

That place was hell.

9 patients (more like 10 to 12 realistically) one LVN and one CNA a night.

Telemetry, Vents, Dialysis, Codes, Wound Vacs, Non-compliance with a touch of nightly threats and a police call or two and it was in that chaos that I became the best damn nurse I could have. I learned from hard-working nurses, and I learned how a team can make or break you. We were more than nurses ..we were family.

A year passed...

I went for my critical care and advanced EKG certificates while I was working. I applied for school to continue to my BSN. I was tired. In the summer...I landed my dream job in a prestigious magnet hospital in their ICU.

The point of this article is..yes it will be hard to get your foot in the door. You go through over 200 applications..(280 for me). You will cry, you will be frustrated.

Your family will say.."But I thought there was a nursing shortage." Refrain from snapping.

Hold on. You worked so hard to get where you are but at the end, the hill just gets steeper and your resolve must get stronger.

Your teacher told you nurses don't stop learning. We don't stop going to school, getting certificates. We don't stop specializing. You keep at it.

Join nursing organizations, keep abreast of any and all best practices in your area of expertise or the area you aspire to enter. Read, interact and also know how and when to rest. Yet know you will put in so much and you will get out so much.

My journey is far from done. I'm 2 classes away from my BSN, a few weeks away from taking my CCRN and looking at where to specialize for my MSN. I am always planning.

I am always climbing.

And I love every second of it.

So know where you stand, and know where it is you want to be.

Before you know it..

there you are.

Last bit of info...I had an instructor once tell me all the requirements to get into nursing school were daunting...it seemed like such a big task, sort of like eating an elephant. How, she asked us, do you eat an entire elephant? One bite at a time.

Love Star Wars, Shiny objects, Sporks, Books, Writing, Nursing and Mini Me. Won't chase a man; but for a kilt I might just power walk.

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7 Comment(s)

Mrs.D., BSN

Specializes in Medical cardiology. Has 2 years experience.

Inspirational. Great job!

This is a really accurate look at the nursing profession today. I had similar experiences. Great post!

it took me about 75 applications for a job. It's definitely a demoralizing process, and you can't help but feel envious of other classmates who do get positions in hospitals while you're doing the usual phone calls, HR visits, etc., only to be turned away with the "sorry everything is done on-line" routine (which you know is BS). You go to those open houses and get told to your face that either no experience or no BSN meant no job. But eventually, a door opens up.

I recently went through through this and decided to start my first job outside the hospital. I think new grad should widen their job search and not just limit to the hospital. I have worked at hospital as a tech and could not even get a job there and I was a good worker. I also had such a bad experience searching for jobs at other hospitals and just found it not to be worth the hassle.

Love this! I also read your other article "suck it in" and you are truly inspirational.

Nice one, a very nice article indeed, it's inspiring. I graduated last 2012 & tried to apply in different hospitals but I was turned down multiple times, so I did a career shift & worked in a BPO company. After 4 years of working in a non related profession, I heard there's a big shortage of nurses in my own country (Philippines) so I decided to apply again but only to be disappointed 'coz I was told that I don't have experience yet, even if I took a lot of trainings. How can I get an experience if nobody is giving me a chance? I'm giving myself another shot to try it again since this is a job I like & dreamt. I really hope this time, they'll give me a chance. :-)