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Nurse Beth Nurse Beth, MSN (Advice Column) Writer Innovator Expert Nurse Verified

Should Nursing Student Work as a PCT?

Nurse Beth   (1,303 Views 3 Comments)
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Dear Nurse Beth,

I was a stay-at-home home mom before and during school. The last job I had was in 2008 and unrelated to the nursing field (I worked in the IT field, if that matters). I graduate in May with my BSN from a double accredited university and have been told our last semester concentrates on interviewing for new grad positions. My son has high functioning autism, which is why I stayed at home while he was young. There were too many therapy, school and doctor visits for me to work a full time job, and after school care was not an option for him when he was little.


Here is my question: do I need to work as a patient care technician, or some other hospital position because of my lack of employment? Do I explain my reasoning for unemployment in a cover letter, or during interviews (if I'm lucky enough to actually land an interview)?


I am very concerned all of my work will be for nothing, or that I will not be taken as a serious job candidate due to my work history.

Dear Concerned,

Glad your son is doing well enough that you can now be an RN :).

You don't really have anything to "explain". As a previous hiring manager, I will tell you that your non-RN work history or lack of is not as big of a factor as it seems to be in your mind. New graduates are typically seen through the same lens- qualified but lacking in nursing experience.

You have a lot going for you, in that you'll have your BSN from a good school.

However, you do want to stand out from the other candidates. One of the tips in my book below is that if you work as a PCT or a CNA in a hospital over the next couple of semesters, you will have an advantage

over your classmates and other applicants in that you are a known quantity.

Hiring managers prefer to hire someone they know over a candidate they do not know. It's an opportunity to start networking and show your reliability and work ethic.

Some hospitals award an extra point for applicants who are current employees.

You should apply to new grad residencies, and start applying before you graduate. Practice your interviewing skills and make sure your resume and cover letter are visually pleasing and error-free.

Best wishes,

Nurse Beth

Author, "Your Last Nursing Class: How to Land Your First Nursing Job"...and your next!



Edited by tnbutterfly

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I think that all RNs and LPNs should work as a PCT while in school. You will be supervising, giving orders and ultimately responsible for their work, you need to know what they do and the effort it takes. I have seen plenty of RNs giving orders to overwhelmed PCTs without offering to help "those tasks are not my job". It will make you a better nurse if you walk in their shoes while in school and you'll learn a lot, see a lot of different disease processes. I did it specifically for that reason, but it also gets your foot in the door.

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While I think that sounds great to work as a pct while in nursing school, it is impractical for some students. For me, and others, I had an established career and was looking to change careers to be a nurse. I went to nursing school while working full time. Since I was established in the career I had, I would not be able to survive on the pct's wages. It sounds all good and in theory it would be best, however I need to pay my mortgage and take care of my family first. There are times I do primary nursing so this allows me to perform duties as an aide as well as a nurse.

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