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New RN; take a job that's a bad fit or keep looking?

Hello, I am a recent graduate and new to this site. I recently took and passed my NCLEX in November, started applying for positions in December, went on my first interview two weeks ago and was just offered the job. However, it is not the right position for me and I already know this going into the trenches.

I live in Michigan where the economy is horrible and jobs are scarce. If there is still a nursing shortage, it is tough to tell by the limited positions which are available here. I know how fortunate I am to have been given an opportunity at all, yet I know from the onset that this is just not a good fit.

As a new grad, I was (am) seeking a Medical/Surgical position where I can pay my dues and gain valuable work experience so that in 2 years I can move on to Hospice, where my passion and enthusiasm lies. I was lucky enough to be offered a position which is on a Rehabilitation Unit working with complex Medical/Surgical patients. It was supposed to be a 3 day a week, 8 hour position (24hr week) job. However, since the interview HR has notified me that it is a 32-36 hour a week job and will require a 4-5 day commitment.

During the interview, the Nurse Manager told me herself that the floor has a lot of problems, and the hospital system is being bought out by an outside company (and a lot of changes will be made soon). She went on to say that the Nurse Aides are in a union and well protected. She said that most of them have been there forever and they are very lazy and know how to work the system. She said most of the time when you need an Aide that they can not be found and will not answer their phones. She told me that if I was not assertive and persistent that they would "eat me alive". She went on to tell me that she has some current issues with nurses as well, who are letting things go, such as dressing changes and teaching plans. Her intentions at this point are to bring new blood to the floor and staff it with people who will work together well. She obtained permission to hire three new nurses, all new grads, and I am one of those new grads. Orientation will last three months with a preceptor. After six months I can be floated to other floors, if the need arises.

At any rate, I am a new grad who did very well in school. I was in the top 3% of my class AND I will be the first one to admit that I feel completely incompetent and totally unprepared for real world nursing. Nursing school did not even begin to touch the surface of everything I really needed to learn. I can't start an IV, am unfamiliar with most equipment, can barely read an EKG strip, and have never had the opportunity to do many nursing procedures.

I had hoped to work part-time (to begin with) so that I could reserve my time off for researching and in-depth studying all the new things that I was going to be introduced to in my career as a RN. I want to be good at my job and I know my limitations. I know that I will require many hours researching all those things I did not learn in school, yet am expected to know in the field.

I am quite conflicted as to what to do. I am not sure if I should accept this position and pray for the best or if I should keep looking for a better fit? I would be ever so grateful to hear from new and seasoned nurses about the importance or lack of importance of finding the right fit. As a new grad, I expect to be overwhelmed and expect to have bad days, however I don't want to be so overwhelmed that I end up quitting after 6 months and hating nursing forever. Yet, jobs are scarce here and there is no guarantee that I will find another right away. Any advice or opinions for a new grad trying to make the right choice.

Further, I don't want to be unfair to my new employer. I don't want to waste their time and money training me if I plan to leave for a better offer/fit.

What is the most professional, responsible thing to do?

I am a new grad still searching for a job so I don't know how much help I will be. All I can tell you is follow your gut and listen to your heart. I was in a similar situation and decided against the job knowing that I would end up hating it and would maybe even be deterred from the nursing field but I am lucky and have the support of my family who are letting me live with them while I currently work part time as a receptionist and continue searching and sending applications for nursing positions that are better fits for me but I know everyone doesn't have that luxury.

Quite honestly it doesn't sound like the best place to work but that doesn't mean it isn't a place that will allow you to get some experience and move on. In the end though it is your decision. Best of luck!

Your post is EXACTLY what most new grads are dealing with. All you have is insecurity on top of the insecurities you intelligently expect to have.

I had an interview where I swear the NM was trying to warn me off. We had hit it off and then she started to spill. I think she just slipped and went too far, the stress of the place just poured out of her. It was when she mumbled that she didn't even really have a decent preceptor for me that I knew I would not take the job, even in such a bad job market for new nurses. If it were any other unlicensed profession, it would not matter, in this bad economy you could just take the job and say to yourself that a paycheck is a paycheck. But our jobs are different. IT ALL MATTERS. Hindsight is 20/20 of course, but would have been great if you had thought to ask her if she thought that due to the current state of "things" if she would be able to connect you with a great preceptor - or not?! Thing is lots of people once they get the year or two in can handle tough situations, especially if second career people. But our previous experience has us knowing that in nursing, you have to have training to learn at first.

Hope some other posters can offer good advice, since so many are having these very same and heavy decisions ot make.

I would stay away from this unless you feel up to the challenge. The problem is that the next job offer might be just as bad or worse, and the manager may not be upfront about warning you. You take your chances with all employers. Good luck with your decision.

Personally, I would take the job. If it is horrendous you can quit. It may not be as bad as you think. I was a mess trying to decide if I should take the first job offered to me, it was not a unit I had any interest in, it was not a hospital system I really wanted to work in, and the location didn't thrill me either. I was scared and so unsure of myself and the decision. My husband told me to take the job and if I didn't like it, I didn't have to keep it. It has turned out to be okay, not the best job, but I have seen new nurses stuck with so much worse. I had applied for dozens of jobs at all the health systems in my area and nobody else called me back, so I feel lucky that I was offered the opportunity and have been able to begin my nursing career and get experience. I don't know if you have the power or influence to make the changes the manager is after, but if she is supportive of her staff maybe it wouldn't be that bad. You have nothing to lose, especially if the phone isn't ringing with other job offers.

dthfytr, ADN, LPN, RN, EMT-B, EMT-I

Specializes in ER, Trauma.

Wow, what a snake pit of a job! I guess it depends on how bad you need a job, and how well you think you can handle a dysfunctional system. It's a shame you have to even consider such a bad job. IMHO hiring 3 new grads wont fix the broken system and the best you could hope for is a paycheck while you look for a job where patient care is the highest priority of all. Hope things work out for you.


Specializes in OB/GYN, Emergency.

You sound like you've definitely got your head on straight! You'll make a great nurse.

There are a lot of red flags here to me. I'd be very hesitant as a new grad to jump into a position where the manager is warning you up front that you'll be eaten alive and lack support from your coworkers.

Is the nurse to patient ratio you were given something you'd be comfortable dealing with on your own without a CNA since it sounds like you won't be getting their assistance? Being unionized is not an excuse not to work and to put the safety of patients at risk. If you do decide to take the job, be assertive from the get go as the manager suggested. If a CNA isn't answering the phone or completing what you've asked, write them up so that management has something on paper for their files. You are the one who has a license to protect, and you are the one in charge, hence nursing assistant. They are there to assist you, not control you.

Are you comfortable starting out in a unit where nurses have become so lazy that they ignore orders, which means when you come onto your shift you'll be responsible for completing not only your own work but the work that got skipped by the nurse before you? Once you inherit the patient with incomplete orders, it's your butt on the line for other people's poor decisions.

How much orientation will you get on the other floors you could be floated to? How often will you be floated?

If they are hiring new grads to try to bring in new blood, will they be trying to cycle out the more experienced nurses? In that case, who will you have available to you as a resource in an emergent situation?

Have you looked into the new management company and researched how well they take care of staff at their other facilities?

Another thing to consider is that it will look worse to take a job and leave it 8 weeks later than it would to wait until a better opportunity comes along. Future employers want to know that when they invest money in your training that you are commited to sticking around.

My biggest piece of advice for you from your thread is not to look for a part time job just so that you have more time to research and learn about nursing concepts on your own time. If you are actually looking for a PT job because of personal needs, not a problem. However, the best learning you'll do is on the job and dealing with real situations. You can't genuinely learn nursing from a textbook or a good journal article. It's something that takes practice, so the more hours you can put in with patient care the better.

Best of luck in whatever you decide!!


Specializes in Med-Surg.

Hello, I am from Michigan, too. I am going to relocating back there in a week for a new job (new grad). I am just wondering what are you from and are you willing to relocate? I know hospitals (rural) that hire new grads. They are in Northern MI so I know that may not be an option for you.

I would like to thank everyone that has responded. I do appreciate your experience and insight. I am so happy to have found this forum.

To answer the questions that have been asked and to be a little bit more clear:

No, my phone is not ringing off the hook despite applying to 15 different hospitals in a 50 mile radius. I check for new listings online (hospitals and job sites) and apply everyday for any open position (that I am remotely qualified). I also have sent my resume to every nurse recruiter trying to network for any unlisted positions. I had business cards made up and even postcards to follow up on each and every resume I have sent to them. My next step is to visit each recruiter in person, hoping that they will see me and accept another resume.

No, it is not necessary for my family's survival that I take this position. I could afford to wait it out a little longer. I am married to a saint who has the patience of Job. He works full time from home and can look after our two children (So I am not locked into a particular shift or schedule). However, we live very simply and would benefit greatly from at least a part-time income. I am going to have to work outside the home if we ever want to better ourselves and have our head above water though. In other words, we struggle financially.

For the past 15 years, I have been a stay at home mom. I worked for a year as a Nurse Assistant (which I loved) and another 6 months as a Nurse Extern for the same hospital (which again, I loved) on a contingent basis. I made my own schedule while I was in nursing school and worked at most 10 days a month. So obtaining a permanent full or part-time position is a huge step for me and a big adjustment in and of itself.

As for the details of my new position, should I take the job... I will have 6-8 patients of differing acuity on the afternoon shift with an absolute max of 10. They take a team approach to nursing and I am assigned one CNA to assist me. During my first 3 months the NM wants to keep my load to 4-5 patients and increase my assignment as I become more competent. As for floating to other floors, I am told that it fluctuates greatly depending upon the census. However, it may only be once a month, once I have my 6 months of experience. As for orientation on the other floors, I am given one day on each floor to shadow a nurse.

The health care system is big and consists of 8 large, but distinctly different hospitals with their own areas of specialization. They do appear to overlap at times, but they are all on one big medical campus with a medical school. They are a big employer in my area, which is why I want to handle this as professional as possible. It is likely at some point in my career I might want a position with one of the other hospitals that they are composed. It would be awful to be "black balled" from the organization because I took the wrong position and quit on them.

Now, if this were only a part-time position I would take it without agonizing. I may not like it, and I may not be the happiest of campers, but I can handle just about anything for three days a week. I could shovel out a sewer full of rats (lol) if it were only for 24 hours. Somehow, adding 1-2 extra days seems to make a huge difference to me. I am not sure I would be able to handle the kind of BS that seems to go on, on the floor full time. As a new nurse I have a lot to learn and just don't know if I could handle the additional, unnecessary stress.

I love the advice that I have received and have given myself until Monday to make a decision.

Thank you guys all so much! I will be on these boards often for info., advice and support. This is an amazing community.

Thank you.

I am a new grad who took a position in the Hospital system you are talking about. (You gave away too many details :))

I was told by MANY people what an awful department and how horrible they are to new grads.

I LOVE this job.

So, you never know. You may love yours too. Go in, and stay out of the BS. See how it goes. I would at least take it for now and see what else comes along.


Specializes in ER/ float.

After reading your initial post it seems as if your basing your entire decision on what this nurse manager told you?

How credible is she? I am trying to understand why she would tell you bad things about the facility she is suppose to be supporting? Hmmm, Why would she try to scare you? jobs are very scarce at this time and there are others waiting in the rafters for their phones to ring from this facility. Worst case is you resign before your orientation is over. ;)

I am pretty sure that I know what hospital system you are referring to, although I had no clue that any of the aides were union, although the unit clerks are (not sure why they are?). It is normal to have to commit to working 5 days a week during orientation, they like you to be there consistently so you get a handle on what goes on on a day to day basis. Maybe the hours go part time after orientation? Be sure you know the actual details before you worry about them :).

Actually, she was a very nice, knowledgeable lady who was very much pro nursing. She appeared to be just being upfront about the floor, what I could expect and what she was looking for in an RN. I think she was just trying to garner if I would be a good fit. I sensed no malice about her, but it did frighten me. And yes, I am basing my decision on what I obtained from the interview...it is all I have to go on. I'm scared out of my mind and trying to make a good decision without harming myself or the organization.

tyvin, BSN, RN

Specializes in Hospice / Psych / RNAC.

CNAs are like that in most places IMO speaking strictly from my experience union or not. I would think with a union you could call them on stuff as opposed to not having one; anyway...........take the job. You will get experience and a chance to transfer to other parts of the hospital system you're in once orientation is done.

I was hired once in a situation like you describe (wanting to bring in new blood, graduated mega cum laude, etc...) and they ate me alive. I survived and definitely got the experience I wanted. It was my education and my ability to adapt that saved me. It would be nice if we all could be hired where we want with nice people but that's not going to happen very often. If you don't take the opportunity it might be a long wait for the next one.

With this job I see opportunity for experience; ignore the rest of the BS and keep your head low and then if you don't like where you are apply for other positions. It's a chance to get your feet wet.

If that place is as big as you described maybe it would be best to get your foot in the door with this job and see what it's like and when you're inside you can see if there's another position inside that facility that'd be a better fit for you.

I know where I work if a position becomes available it has to be offered to in-house staff first before they start looking posting help wanted ads. If this hospital does that too then maybe that's why they only seem to hire for the "lame" jobs. Once you get in you can transfer to another job that you like better in their seemingly huge facility.

Another thing to consider is that experience and previous employment matter a LOT. Even if this job isn't a best fit, you might want to go ahead and "pay your dues" and get that "minimum one year experience" over and done with!

OgopogoLPN, LPN, RN

Specializes in Med/Surg, LTC/Geriatric.

No advice, I just wanted to wish you the best of luck. If you are as good of a nurse as you are a an eloquent writer, any hospital would be lucky to have you! You seem to have a very good understanding of the pros and cons as well as your own strengths and limitations.

I hope it all works out for you. :)


I would take the job,trust me you dont want a big unemployment gap on your resume,plus think about you will be learning a lot of stuff on the floor in addition to your "reasearching" on your spare time.Any experience is better than none experience.

I would take it but I have been looking for about 8 months without so much as an interview. At least it's a hospital job. The alternative could be working in a nursing home where you won't get acute care experience. As for your concerns about "catching up" by researching on your own time, I think you are better off learning on the job. You can only master a skill by actually doing it over and over again, not by reading about it in a book. Good luck!


Specializes in Emergency.

Perhaps you could consider an outside view of the situation - view it as an opportunity - particularly when others have been having a very hard time finding a job and you have the opportunity to work in the hospital and have a long orientation with a preceptor.

As for the steep learning curve - yes, welcome to the real world - there's always new things/techniques/equipment to learn. . . I heard many say they although their nursing program may have been rigorous, they actually learned more AFTER nursing school than during. . .

As for the personnel - take it as an opportunity to learn how to deal with "different" people - you'll have to learn it sooner or later as there will always be some staff that may be challenging to work with - no matter where you work. Just remember to treat them nice and tell them you appreciate the work they do and thank them - they will value/respect you more when you show them respect

Whatever you decide, congratulations on the offer

eriksoln, BSN, RN

Specializes in M/S, Travel Nursing, Pulmonary.

Take the job that is a bad fit AND keep looking.

I did it after coming out of travel nursing. I had to take a night position, and I HATE nights. I did it for almost two years, and now am moving onto a unit where I will be doing 99% day shift. I don't regret having worked nights the last two years, but I don't regret being done with nights at all either.

Its kinda like a lot of girls do with their men.........hold onta what you got till the upgrade shows up.


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