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New Grad Nurse With 5mos to Spare

First Year   (867 Views 7 Comments)
by hastynurse hastynurse (New Member) New Member

66 Visitors; 3 Posts

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Hey ya'll, first off I want to thank everyone who asks questions and answers on this forum, I've been reading and learning from everyone for quite some time now. I'll be graduating in December (!!) and everyone I know is already taking jobs for after graduation and NCLEX. The problem is, I had a wonderful camp nursing job last summer that I loved so much I have to go back next year. That leaves me with a weird 4-5month span of time between NCLEX and camp, and I'm not sure what to do in the interim. A friend of mine just took a job offer that she knows she'll be leaving halfway through orientation but I'm not sure how bad that would look on my resume, not to mention I'm not a huge fan of holding back the truth that much from my employer. Some friends say I'm overthinking it, and that 5 months of incomplete orientation is better than 5 months of being outside of nursing and losing skills. Is this the best option for me? Would leaving a new-grad residency 5 months in be better than having to take a non-nursing job for that period?

Alternatively, if anyone has any other nursing-related ideas for how I could alternatively fill that time, I'm open to really anything. One of my mentors has told me to go into contract work, she works at nursing homes and says many of her co-workers are new grads, however, I haven't found anything similar to that in my area and from previous posts contract work doesn't seem to be advised for new grads.

TLDR: new grad with 5 months after graduation open, asking for advice/suggestions on how to fill that time while not butchering my resume. Thanks ya'll.

Edited by hastynurse

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6,225 Visitors; 543 Posts

You are going to wait 5 months to start a job? And that job is temporary/just for the summer? My initial reaction is that's a mistake. But I need more information. What are your career goals?

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66 Visitors; 3 Posts

Yeah, I know it doesn't make much sense career-wise. I really love the place though, and I know that there won't be a time in my life where it makes more sense to go back. I don't mind taking a little time and putting a nursing job off to do other things, but I am worried that it will make it much more difficult when I go back after the summer.

As far as career goals, I'm really not sure at the moment. I'm in the ED for capstone and enjoying it, but I'm not sure that I'll find it meaningful long-term. I originally entered nursing because of my experiences in geriatric/LTC/hospice care, but have been told not to go outside the hospital for my first jobs. Over the next few years I'd like to do travel nursing and maybe go into some service work abroad, but other than that I'm pretty wishy-washy over what specialty I'd like to get into and where. I'm thinking I'll just go into MedSurg for experience and see where my passions take me from there. Any suggestions for other specialties to look into as a new nurse are also welcome!

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To be perfectly honest, it sounds like you're setting yourself up for failure. I know it's not what you want to hear, but I think you may end up shooting yourself in the foot and really limiting your opportunities in the near future.

There are hundreds of posts on this site about the perils of being an "old new grad." The farther away from school you get, the less competitive you become for acute care positions. By the time you'd actually apply for an acute care position, you'd be 8 months out of school (post-camp), and it is highly unlikely that acute care hospitals will count your camp tenure as experience. When you apply, you'll be a less desirable applicant than more recent new grads, and a less desirable applicant than nurses with acute care experience. New grad cohorts usually start based on graduation dates (December and May); since many May grads begin during the summer, you may not even be eligible to start until the following Spring, extending the gap even further.

If you want to travel nurse, it makes even less sense to me. Travelers usually work in specialty areas (i.e. OR, ER, ICU, L&D) which are highly desirable, and are difficult for even the most competitive applicants to break into.

I'd also question if it's a great idea for you to be working as a camp nurse for your first job. Will there be other nurses there to support you? Most of camp is low-acuity care, but if an emergency happens, you are the one who has to recognize it and know how to respond. Unlike acute care, you may not have an extensive orientation with other experienced coworkers around to support you. If you've got a kid who suddenly arrests, starts to seize, or goes into anaphylactic shock, are you going to feel comfortable calling the shots?

Don't get me wrong, I think camp nursing is great, and there are a lot of great ways to do it (i.e. travel nursing or school nursing in the school year and camp nursing in the summer). However, it just doesn't make much sense to me in the situation you've described.

A friend of mine just took a job offer that she knows she'll be leaving halfway through orientation but I'm not sure how bad that would look on my resume, not to mention I'm not a huge fan of holding back the truth that much from my employer. Some friends say I'm overthinking it, and that 5 months of incomplete orientation is better than 5 months of being outside of nursing and losing skills. Is this the best option for me? Would leaving a new-grad residency 5 months in be better than having to take a non-nursing job for that period?

Nope, nope, nope :no:! I'm sorry, but this is terribly misinformed advice. Aside from it being morally questionable (as you pointed out), that kind of choice can quickly come back to bite you in the butt. Managers and HR departments do not appreciate investing tens of thousands of dollars into training you just to have you leave, especially if it's for an opportunity or issue that you had already anticipated. There are a lot of potential consequences: You may be marked ineligible for rehire by the hospital system (if you ever wanted to work there again). While checking references, future jobs could see that you're ineligible for rehire at your previous facility and not want to hire you. Your manager may be salty about you leaving and give you a poor reference. Future managers will probably be put off by the fact that you left after such a short period of time (especially because they know that it will have screwed over the last manager). SO many reasons not to do this. The minor benefit you may receive from completing half an orientation pales in comparison to the negative fallout, in my humble opinion. (I'd also encourage your friends not to do this, either...)

Speaking from personal experience, I left my first new grad job after about a year, which I'd read on this site was an appropriate amount of time. My managers were royally ticked off that I was leaving for a different position after they'd invested so much to train me. I still get nervous when I'm required to provide their contact info on applications, even though their HR department holds me in 'good standing,' and I've had other jobs since then. As a new grad, you don't want to risk your only acute care reference holding a grudge.

If you're still feeling strongly about going to camp, you may be able to look for nursing opportunities where you can be upfront about only staying for a short period of time. Some LTC or SNF facilities have a very short orientation (i.e. a week) and would be willing to train you even if you can only work for a few months. You may even be able to do some agency work or private duty, although they aren't usually recommended for new grads since you're expected to function independently right off the bat. If you can't find a paid position that will train you for such a short period, I'd look into volunteer nursing opportunities.

Congrats on your upcoming graduation.

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66 Visitors; 3 Posts

After speaking to my camp nurse mentor again, I am definitely leaning that way. While I love camp and will be sad to miss this summer, I think the blow to my resume would be really detrimental to my long-term goals. She gave me the same suggestion after speaking with other new grads. I'm hoping I'll be able to take some vacation time to go up there for a week or so this summer, then maybe go back in 2020. Thanks so much for the time & advice, I truly appreciate it!

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1 Article; 16,055 Visitors; 961 Posts

After speaking to my camp nurse mentor again, I am definitely leaning that way. While I love camp and will be sad to miss this summer, I think the blow to my resume would be really detrimental to my long-term goals. She gave me the same suggestion after speaking with other new grads. I'm hoping I'll be able to take some vacation time to go up there for a week or so this summer, then maybe go back in 2020. Thanks so much for the time & advice, I truly appreciate it!

No problem! If you're interested in travelling, and you wouldn't mind holding off for a year and a half, it could be the perfect opportunity for you to go back to camp. (Many travel positions prefer or require two years of experience, but I've known people to do it with less.)

Thank you for being receptive to our advice! So often, we see posts like, "Graduated two years ago, can't find a job, what should I do?" The response is almost always, "You should have tried earlier," which stinks for the original posters since it's not as though they can turn back time or do anything about it. Part of the reason I feel so strongly when responding to posts like yours is that I'd rather you have all of the information so you can make an informed decision (regardless of what you ultimately decide) instead of facing an unexpected challenge down the road and having people say, "Well, you shouldn't have done that," or, "I told you so," which are entirely unhelpful.

I do hope that you'll be able to make time during the summer in order to visit!! :D

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llg has 40 years experience as a PhD, RN and works as a Nursing Professional Development + Academic Facult.

5 Followers; 57,670 Visitors; 12,992 Posts

I am happy to read that you are re-thinking the idea of working at the camp in 2019 -- giving yourself 5 months to kill. I agree with the other posters that it would be a huge mistake. Get yourself a good "new grad job" starting in January or February (March at the latest) and get your career off to a good start.

You can always do camp nursing in the future (maybe in-between jobs or as a break from traveling) after you get some experience. But you have only 1 chance to get the new grad thing right.

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