Which Job Should I take? Advice, please!

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by Nurse Beth Nurse Beth, MSN (Columnist) Educator Columnist Innovator Expert Nurse

Specializes in Med Surg, Tele, ICU, Ortho. Has 30 years experience.


Hi Nurse Beth,

I am graduating from nursing school this May. I think these last few months are supposed to be the most exciting part of nursing school, but for me they've been so stressful. I am not originally from the city that I go to school in now. My plan was to always move back to my home city and work there when I graduated.

Of course things come up... I've met my best friends here in college, unexpectedly met a significant other that I've been with for some time now, not to mention I have come to love this city and the routine I've made here. With that being said, it sounds like a no brainer to move to this city and take a job. Although the friends, boyfriend and enjoyable city are nice, I always consider just myself when making a decision... what will be best for me.

Long story short, I have 2 job offers. One is in my home city while the other is here in my college city. The one in my hometown offers student loan forgiveness (I do have loans) and a sign on bonus, plus I would have the grace of living with my parents for a period of time to save some money. So for the most part that's all money going straight into my account. I started picking up some shadow/assistant shifts there to kind of get a feel for the unit. I thought it was really cool.. but the last shift I worked some of the staff gave me a bad outlook. Some are intimidating, some things they do or say in front of patients I felt was inappropriate or at least I wouldn't do it. Also, the manager never came to check in on me during the shifts that I started picking up... I kind of thought the manager would just check in to see how I'm liking it.

On the other hand, the job offer in my college city does not offer loan forgiveness or a sign on bonus. They are a tad smaller than the other facility. I have never actually been on the unit besides during my interview, but I have talked to a few people who love working there because of the culture/closeness between the staff. It seems like a good place to start out. Both jobs are in the same specialty and both have the same base pay as well as shift differentials. At the hometown job, I'd have plenty of money but how often would I be driving to visit my friends in the other city, how long could I take living with my parents again and would I be unhappy at my job? At the college city job, I MAY actually enjoy the staff and feel comfortable asking for help or advice, but I may be balancing my checks due to paying rent for an apartment. Also, another thing is that for the hometown job I'd have to sign a 3-year contract while at the college job there is no contract. I appreciate any advice! Give me your honest opinions! ūüôā "

Dear Soon to Be RN,

Congratulations on graduating soon and having 2 job offers!! I'm sorry it's stressful. This whole first year is going to be stressful, I'm afraid, but it is offset by excitement and opportunity. You are very soon going to be a real nurse practicing nursing just like you dreamed.

My honest opinion is I want you to spend your first couple of years in the facility where you will be most supported. You say you want what will be best for you. What will be best for you? Support.

Support in your first year is ESSENTIAL to your success. But more reflection and information is needed in order to discern which facility is more likely to provide that support.

Let's look at your points one-by-one:

Yes, student loan forgiveness is HUGE, not to mention a sign-on bonus in addition! Your hometown facility must be very short of nurses to offer a sign-on bonus to new grads, and this could be a red flag. Is the sign-on bonus a sign of high turnover and poor working conditions or are they perhaps just in a geographically undesirable location?

Homework-ask about turnover, morale, and challenges (both facilities). What are the nurse-patient ratios and how long is your orientation? How long has your nurse manager been on the unit in his/her role and are there experienced and dedicated (non-patient care) charge nurses to help you? Can you interview with staff or talk to a charge nurse to get their feedback? How are nursing assistants or Patient Care Technicians treated in your unit?

The bad outlook experience you had when shadowing can be taken with a grain of salt. Yes, it could be signs of an overall negative environment, but it is also very common for new grads to experience Reality Shock, and it will happen wherever you land.

By contrast, the culture/closeness described by the staff at your college town facility sounds promising. If it's truly the case, I will tell you it's not all that common, and it speaks to a supportive and safe culture for you as a new nurse. Did you hear this from nurses/staff on the unit and shift you'll be working on?

Good managers do make a point to check on potential new staff, yes, but it doesn't make a manager a bad manager to not check. He or she may have been overwhelmed or distracted or any other number of reasons to explain why they missed checking in on you. Instead consider your impression of each manager. Did either talk about their plan to develop you as a new nurse? Mention that their staff support and welcome new grads?

New grad contracts are very common, although I'd be more comfortable with a 2 year contract than a 3 year contract. And yes, plenty of folks will tell you it's OK to break a contract and that many hospitals do not enforce the penalty- but some do.

It's pretty amazing to not be tied down to a contract as a new grad. I personally am not in favor of new grad contracts because I don't think they're effective and they can feel punitive. New grads break them all the time. I've always wondered what hospital really wants to be in the business of suing new grads? I'm saying all this to say maybe the college facility is wise in their approach.

Homework for you- find out the contract terms. Is the payback penalty for breaking the contract pro-rated? Is there room for negotiation? They are evidently very short staffed, and would undoubtedly love a hometown person (you!) over a non-hometown flight risk- so just ask if they would consider a 2 year contract. It can't hurt although hospitals can be notoriously rigid even to their own detriment (personal edit).

I'm not offering opinions on the family/friends/significant other variables because those are hard to quantify and you sound very rational, with a head over heart approach to your first job.

Best wishes in your choice. I wish you all the best, my friend.

Nurse Beth

Red Shirt 6, CNA

Has 3 years experience. 2 Articles; 129 Posts

If the city job is a non-profit there is some student loan forgiveness you may be eligible for. 


6,204 Posts

Personally I would avoid the contract at (almost) all costs. I think they are abusive and would not want that negativity as part of my start to my career. The terms of such a contract will be written in favor of the employer; I have never been subject to one but I can't imagine there is really anything in writing that you can hold them to--it's all them holding you to the terms of the contract, namely that you won't leave for any reason. Nah.

We all have different tolerances, so maybe this is worth it to you to be able to pay down debt and save some money. For me I just have too negative a reaction to the particular sum of elements involved in these contracts.