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Two years of med-surg are not magic.

Med-Surg   (8,100 Views | 35 Replies)

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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".

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689 Posts; 9,965 Profile Views

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.

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2 Articles; 776 Posts; 26,064 Profile Views

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.)

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NewTexasRN specializes in Ortho and Tele med/surg.

331 Posts; 10,173 Profile Views

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.

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MN-Nurse is a ASN, RN and specializes in Med Surg - Renal.

1,398 Posts; 12,162 Profile Views

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.

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689 Posts; 9,965 Profile Views

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.

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2 Articles; 776 Posts; 26,064 Profile Views

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.

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Up2nogood RN is a RN and specializes in pulm/cardiology pcu, surgical onc.

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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.

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dudette10 has 9 years experience as a MSN, RN and specializes in Med/Surg, Academics.

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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.

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Pepper The Cat has 33 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in Gerontology.

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MedSurg RNs wanting acute care

Med/Surg IS acute care.

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2 Articles; 776 Posts; 26,064 Profile Views

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".

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3,408 Posts; 29,560 Profile Views

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.

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