Oct 2009 Traveler Times
How do Graduate Nurses Get Hired?
Get the Experience You Need for your First Travel Job
It's a classic case of Catch-22. You can't get a job until you get the experience, but if no one will
hire you, how will you ever get the experience? Many people choose nursing because it's considered "recession-proof."
Didn't you used to hear that no matter where you go in life, you'll always be able to find a nursing job? And in boom times, graduate nurses were snatched up as fast as the schools could hand out their diplomas.
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But today's healthcare job market has changed. Hospitals aren't hiring like they used to. And with an abundance of candidates to choose from, they may be less willing to hire a newly graduated nurse who requires more training over a seasoned candidate. And travel nursing jobs, because they don't allow for preceptorships or extensive training of new nurses, also require 12 months in a full-time hospital nursing position.
Understand that the difficulty some new grads are experiencing is directly related to the economic downturn. Hospitals will start hiring once overall employment rates rise and incomes improve. But what if you can't wait for that to happen? How do you get the experience you need to qualify for a travel nurse job, or for that matter, any hospital nursing job?
- Consider starting out in a nursing field that wasn't your first choice. If the hospital is hiring in a given specialty, and you're qualified, many employment experts would advise you to jump on it. Give it six months to a year and you'll find many more employers willing to give you a second look. This time maybe in your preferred field.
- It's an old saying, but it's true. Sometimes it's not what you know, but who you know. Network. Maybe you have a distant acquaintance who works in the field. Ask if you can buy him or her coffee while you brainstorm about getting your career off the ground. Volunteer. Join a community organization. Check the web for social networking groups in your field.
- Underserved areas, rural or urban, may be another possible source of employment. Some state and federal programs serve these populations. If you're just considering nursing school, several of these programs offer tuition assistance in exchange for a period of service. Despite the sacrifices they require of applicants, these programs can be competitive — and rewarding.
- It may not be your long-term career goal, but working outside of a hospital for a while in an extended care facility or a clinic can build your resume with real life experience until that hospital job opens up.
- In support of the community, some local hospitals have a preferred candidate arrangement with nearby nursing schools. But if your local employment market isn't happening for you, think about relocating to areas where demand is higher. Do some research with placement firms and job boards. Recent reports indicate that the US West and Southwest have a more favorable candidate to job-opening ratio. At American Traveler we are currently seeing an uptick in California travel nursing job openings.
Still in School? Position Yourself for that First Job Now!
Successful job hunters say:
Work as a CNA or Nurse Tech while you're still in school. You may start in a nursing home, transition to a hospital, then transfer into the hospital unit you most want to work in. Learn as much as you can, expose yourself to as much as you can, and nurture your contacts. This is a great time to find out what type of nursing career suits you.
Get your BCLS/ACLS, and PALS while you're still in school. Volunteer whenever you can. And take an internship if available. Some hospitals start interns off in clerical positions and then move them into a more practical environment. In time, interns may be exposed to some of the most dynamic departments like CC and ICU.
Remember your education really begins after you graduate.