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Worth It? CA to OR

Hi all,

I am a new grad from the Bay Area in California. This is not news to anyone, but getting a job there as a new grad is pretty competitive, much as it is throughout the country in general. I am considering relocating to Oregon, but I'd like some input on a couple matters.

1) In the context of having some hefty school debt, how has the overall pay treated you? Considering wages to cost of living balance.

2) What's your experience with the nursing culture, patient ratios, overtime, etc?

3) How's Oregon life? Culture, activities, weather.

As of now, I'm most strongly considering the southern half of the state, mostly due to the weather. I look forward to hearing back from anyone with opinions! Thank you!

abber, BSN, RN

Specializes in Labor and Delivery.

Many hospitals in the state are represented by ONA and you can see union contracts on their website.

verene, MSN

Specializes in mental health / psychiatic nursing.

Pay in oregon tends to be pretty good, even for new grads. Many of the hospitals are ONA and post contracts with pay, or post pay ranges online so you can get a sense of what is offered. Cost of living in substantially higher in the major metros, and somewhat less in smaller towns. Look around online at cost of rent and/or buying a home in the different locations you are interested in and compare against pay scale to get a sense of pay relative to location. One of the challenges with smaller / cheaper locals may be lack of rental units.

Culture, overtime policies, etc will vary from location to location and unit to unit, so definitely utilize any interviews as a chance to interview employers just as much as they are interviewing you. As will weather, culture of the geographic region. As a general rule I-5 corridor is significantly more liberal than other areas of the state. East is warmer-drier in the summers and cold snowy winters, while western half tends to be more temperate climate year round.

It can be very competitive to get jobs in some areas (e.g. Portland) with out experience into highly competitive specialities (e.g. L&D), but there are many opportunities outside of the major metro areas that will gladly accept and train new graduates. Some of the coastal communities/hospitals will offer very nice packages to attract RNs. Also east of the cascades tends to have a more difficult time attracting RNs and thus may be more likely to offer new grads positions in competitive specialties.

When I was applying as a new grad in Southern Oregon, there were a lot of applicants from California.

Hey! I am planning to move to San Jose after graduating with my BSN this december, can you tell me about the job search in the bay? I will be a brand new nurse. I have no idea what to expect and how difficult it will be....did you look at only hospitals or were you looking for anything?


Specializes in medical-oncology.

On ‎7‎/‎9‎/‎2019 at 1:02 PM, RSH_2019 said:

Hey! I am planning to move to San Jose after graduating with my BSN this december, can you tell me about the job search in the bay? I will be a brand new nurse. I have no idea what to expect and how difficult it will be....did you look at only hospitals or were you looking for anything?

I went to nursing school at San Jose State, then moved back to my homestate/town of Portland, OR to start my nursing career. I haven't lived in SJ for almost 4 years, but many of my classmates started their careers there. So, while I can't say how the job search would be currently for a new grad coming from an outside school, I can speak a little about how it was for my classmates.

Where will you be moving from? Like everywhere else in the Bay Area, San Jose is pretty expensive, and for some, even though the salaries are a lot higher, they don't necessarily balance out with the high cost of living. That's probably especially true in non-hospital jobs.

The thing to keep in mind about San Jose is that, while there are a good number of hospitals in the area, there are a lot of nursing schools in the area, too, with students who do their clinical rotations at all those hospitals and facilities, so they get lots of new grad applicants that already have experience with their policies, EHRs, etc. Plus, I had many classmates who were already working at the hospitals they applied to RN jobs at as patient navigators, CNAs, medical clerks, etc. So you may run up against new grads who edge you out of hospital positions simply due to their clinical rotations at certain facilities.

The folks I know who got jobs at hospitals had all done clinical rotations at their respective hospitals except for the folks who did the new grad residency at Good Sam. I know several people from my cohort that got residencies there. I think most people were successful in securing jobs in areas/hospitals they wanted. Some people moved to other locations for residencies or to have an easier time finding a job with a lower cost of living. I know people that went to Florida, Iowa, Las Vegas, etc., and even other locales within California.

Do you have any previous health care experience, like as a CNA or navigator? That will help you, I'm sure.

Unless you're coming from somewhere with an equally high cost of living, I will say be prepared for a super expensive change. Beef up your resume however you can with relevant experience. Get some good letters of rec from faculty, clinical instructors, deans/directors. Those can also go a long way. Do you know anyone in San Jose currently with a job who can talk you up to their NM?

On 7/9/2019 at 1:02 PM, RSH_2019 said:

Hey! I am planning to move to San Jose after graduating with my BSN this december, can you tell me about the job search in the bay? I will be a brand new nurse. I have no idea what to expect and how difficult it will be....did you look at only hospitals or were you looking for anything?

I agree 100% with boywithacoin's post.

I have lived in the bay area for almost 3 years and went to nursing school in San Francisco. Financial realities have a major influence on lifestyle. They pay, even for starting nurses, is awesome. ~60s per hour depending on the hospital, unit, and shift. That being said, it's also an expensive place to live.

I personally ended up not having luck in the bay area and took a job in Oregon. I think it's important to note for my situation that I did not have CNA or direct pt care experience outside of nursing school, which I have seen usually (not always) helps people land jobs after graduation. As boywithacoin said, most of the students I know who were hired into hospitals in the area also had some sort of experience with that hospital whether through a clinical rotation, employment, or volunteer work. The only interview I was invited to in the area was at the hospital where I did my med/surg rotations.

All that being said, it's certainly not impossible for you to land an awesome job at a great institution. I think you should begin networking and working on application materials tailored to each hospital you're considering now. It really is that competitive, and being from out of the area/out of state, you'll want to stand out in a relevant way. Market yourself and make sure you highlight what is going to make you an awesome nurse!

A few specific pieces of info: 1) Santa Clara Valley Medical Center is cool and in my opinion looks like a great place to work. From what I've gathered, the best way in for a brand new grad here is to apply to their "extra help" positions. This may not be 100% accurate, but I believe they tend to hire into their new grad program most often from this group of people. 2) check out the Facebook groups RNInterview Tools & New Grad RN California. Info on these pages (though RNInterview Tools especially) really helped me a lot in my process.

If it's helpful to know, my plan as of now is to get my out of state experience for 2+ years and come back if I really think the pay and working environments will be worth it. Best of luck to you! Hope this helps 🙂

gere7404, BSN, RN, EMT-B

Specializes in Cardiac.

On 3/19/2019 at 11:49 AM, anm said:

3) How's Oregon life? Culture, activities, weather. 

Little late on the reply with this one, but something I wish people told me about moving to Southern Oregon is that we have five seasons:

Spring (April - May)

Summer (June)

Fire (July - September)

Fall (October - November)

Winter (December - March)

This year hasn't been as bad as the previous fire seasons, but my plans on going to the lake tomorrow might be off if we keep getting smoke in the valley.

When it's clear, Southern Oregon is amazing for it's outdoor activities -- tons of hiking, water stuff, vineyards. Not much going on around here for nightlife activities and the dating scene has been voted one of the worst in the country, though.

Food sucks if you're coming from the Bay Area, especially Asian foods -- all the Chinese dishes here are based around "Mar Far Chicken," which is battered fried chicken with a ketchup-based pink sauce. No kidding.... it's pretty terrible living here if you're a foodie unless you go down to Ashland, which has some decent places to eat.

Edited by gere7404


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