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Two years of med-surg are not magic.

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I see posts like this all the time from new grads looking for work: "I just need those two years of experience." "If I only had those two years, there would be lots of jobs available." "I'm looking everywhere for my two years of experience--I can live anywhere for two years." Sometimes I even see those phrases with ONE year instead of two.

Then there are the people who think (because it's what they've been told) that after working in med-surg for two years, they'll be able to transfer to their desired specialty. "I never wanted to do med-surg, but at least I'll be able to transfer after two years and it will give me a good background for almost anything."

I was one of those new grads who couldn't find a job--one of the first of the current wave, actually, back in 2007, when I would post about my jobsearch struggles here on allnurses and would still get incredulous responses from people who had never heard of a new nurse struggling to find a job. So I have every sympathy and I know you just want to find a job, ANY job, even if it isn't in acute care, and that if you can relocate you are going to, though most of you don't have the freedom to do that.

After two years of job-searching I was finally free to relocate, and then I found a job fairly quickly. It was in med-surg, which yeah, hadn't been my plan, but I was thrilled to have a job and actually ended up loving what I do. But the plan was always to stay two years and then move to a more desirable location. (I'm 2000 miles from my family and not in a city that I want to stay in, for various reasons.)

Guess what? It's still hard. The desirable locations still have tight job markets, even for experienced nurses. And what comes as somewhat of a surprise, because of what I was told during nursing school, is that no one seems at all interested in looking at me as an acute-care nurse for anything BUT what I already do--med-surg nursing. ER, critical care, peds, PACU--nope.

Since I'm looking first at only one major city, and med-surg positions for experienced nurses are few and far between there, I have thought about looking at the clinic, office, home health, etc positions available there, which seem to be more plentiful (and which I would probably qualify for). But my feeling is--since I'm already being limited as a med-surg nurse--if I take a job outside of the hospital, I'll probably have trouble getting back into acute care at all.

I don't mean to discourage new grad nurses from relocating or from taking med-surg jobs. (Wouldn't work, anyway--like I said, I've been there, you'll take anything and would be thrilled with any kind of acute care job.) Just don't get it in your heads that everything will be fine with the "magic two years of experience".

Congratulations on getting your first 2 years out of the way. Many will see that as a solid nursing foundation. Have you thought about getting TNCC certifed? That, along with your ACLS and PALS will set you apart from all the other MedSurg RNs wanting acute care.

Working on it. I got ACLS when I was jobhunting originally, but it's lapsed; and at my hospital the classes are only open to people who need it for their current jobs. I'm trying to find other sources. (I think you mean critical care, though--med-surg IS acute care.)

NewTexasRN

Specializes in Ortho and Tele med/surg.

Yes, I know exactly what you mean. Thank you for the reality check! I was told to do a year of med/surg and then you can move on. The truth is, the market is rough for everyone. Hang in there. It's definitely true that your odds are slimmer if you leave the hospital for home health and want to get back into the hospital later. Good luck to all the new grads out there.

MN-Nurse, ASN, RN

Specializes in Med Surg - Renal.

Just don't get it in your heads that everything will be fine with the "magic two years of experience".

Well, nothing is magic, but I'm going to do my two years acute care, get my BSN and work on expanding my skills in every way I can just the same.

What about PALS? You might be able to do part of them online. Once you have all 3, its a matter of being in the right place at the right time.

MN-Nurse, yes, those are all good things to do; it would be silly not to. Just keep in mind that you may find yourself "stuck" where you are for longer than you expected, or you may have to choose another job that isn't what you wanted.

The other thing I hear people saying (and what I told myself back in 2009) was that the economy will surely be better two years from now. Supposedly it is better now, but I don't think it's made much of a difference in the nursing job market. We don't know that things will be any better in 2013, either.

79Tango, yes, I'm also looking for PALS--and I have NRP. I'm lucky in that I love my current job, so I have some flexibility in being able to keep looking for that right place/right time combination, although I can't wait to relocate again.

Up2nogood RN, RN

Specializes in pulm/cardiology pcu, surgical onc.

You're right, 2 years is not automatically going to buy you a ticket into a coveted position.

But it is important what you accomplished in that 2 years to list on your resume and set you apart from other applicants. ACLS, certifications, committees, charge nurse duties, preceptor to new employees or students?

The job market is tough I agree and that's why an applicant has to prove they're willing to put in a little extra to get into a specialty.

dudette10, MSN, RN

Specializes in Med/Surg, Academics. Has 10 years experience.

I see one year experience required or preferred, and I always think, "Yeah, after one year, I won't need a substantial orientation? Are they crazy? What's the point of even including that in a job description?" If it said three to five years, then I could see the point.

Even the job postings that new grads look at are misleading. You don't know what you don't know until you are in the job hunt. That shouldn't be surprising to anyone.

Pepper The Cat, BSN, RN

Specializes in Gerontology. Has 35 years experience.

MedSurg RNs wanting acute care

Med/Surg IS acute care.

You're right, 2 years is not automatically going to buy you a ticket into a coveted position.

But it is important what you accomplished in that 2 years to list on your resume and set you apart from other applicants. ACLS, certifications, committees, charge nurse duties, preceptor to new employees or students?

The job market is tough I agree and that's why an applicant has to prove they're willing to put in a little extra to get into a specialty.

This is certainly true. But all the experiences and certifications in the world won't do all that much for you if there simply aren't any jobs to apply for.

I've also been trying to talk my way into other nursing specialties. (It isn't so much that I'm dying to leave med-surg, as it is that I'd like a wider field of positions I can apply for, and I have varied interests.) I point out my certifications, experiences, nursing school rotations, etc. Not that I'm going to stop talking that stuff up, but I think it's a sign of the job market that you can tell they've heard it all before when they say at the outset that the only applicants who are considered for, as an example, ED are "those with significant paid ED experience as an RN in the last two years, for at least two years".

I agree- it's not always so easy to transfer and a couple years of experience doesn't help that much more in this job market. I went after the specialty I wanted and lucked in to a job doing exactly what I wanted to do. I'm still new but feel like I'm doing something that will sustain me for more than a few years. I realize things easily could have gone another way for me, and by the time I got the job I had I was getting ready to work anywhere, but I never felt like Med surg HAD to be part of the career path.

RosesrReder, ASN, BSN, MSN, RN

Has 19 years experience.

When I graduated in 2007, I moved to an undesirable area in AZ. I went into med-surg as a GN, took boards the following month and stayed there for exactly one yr.

Then an internal position opened for my 'drean job' NICU. Too many people applied but I was the lucky one to get it. I did one yr level 3 there.

Life happened and I had to move to TX. I applied high and low but even though this is an undesirable border town, every new grad and their mother applies here and well the market is now saturated. The jobs even for experienced nurses are PRN, per diem or very slim for FT.

I happened to start out a new program (float pool) and since I was the first employee was able to cross train to peds, picu, pedi oncology etc. I had my ACLS and NRP. I quickly got PALS, STABLE, along with chemo, conscious sedation etc.

I decided to stay as I loved working in different places and not just one floor. I have truly found my passion. I will be relocating in a yr and am super nervous because the job market sucks. I am afraid no one will even look at me with just 4 yrs experience.

I guess what I mean to say is that we are all on the same boat. I am grateful I have a job but scared for possible having to be anchored here because no one will be hiring unless you have 10+ yrs experience under their belts.

Nursing market stinks!

The most important thing you can do for yourself is to "Be Ready". When our ER opened a Perm position-ACLS was the first cut. Those that had it in hand, were allowed to the interview phase. Those that didnt were allowed to apply with the understanding they would be getting it. I believe 2 out of the whole bunch had TNCC & the job went to one of them..

It just goes to show that in this economy many of the rules everyone swore by in other times just no longer apply. Please excuse this old timer for being slow to "get it". However, I must say that in your case I really respect the way you have taken control of the situation. You did find a job and you did get experience. I know you are impatient and disappointed but still take a second to take stock of your situation and give yourself a pat on the back. I think a lot of the things you have done are quite positive.

Up2nogood RN, RN

Specializes in pulm/cardiology pcu, surgical onc.

This is certainly true. But all the experiences and certifications in the world won't do all that much for you if there simply aren't any jobs to apply for.

I've also been trying to talk my way into other nursing specialties. (It isn't so much that I'm dying to leave med-surg, as it is that I'd like a wider field of positions I can apply for, and I have varied interests.) I point out my certifications, experiences, nursing school rotations, etc. Not that I'm going to stop talking that stuff up, but I think it's a sign of the job market that you can tell they've heard it all before when they say at the outset that the only applicants who are considered for, as an example, ED are "those with significant paid ED experience as an RN in the last two years, for at least two years".

This does seem to be the case now. ED and OR in my area usually only hires experienced RN's in that field. My hospital recently started back up their critical care and OR internships due to retirements and expansion. I was chosen to interview but those few that were hired were from the cardiac and resp units.....so I transferred to resp/cardio to get more experience in a diff field besides post op. Now I'm confident I could work any unit/shift in my hospital. Have you thought about your float pool to gain more of a varied experience?

vegasmomma, BSN

Has 5 years experience.

Thanks for heads up from the field..I'm a student and I've heard the horror stories of landing that first job...I did have hope as you did that after 2 years you could move to almost anything. My instructor said these exact words in class "after becoming a nurse you will have the world by the tail" Ya right!

OP, I was reading your original post and did you say that it took you 2 years to find your first nursing job? Just checking.