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After putting in blood, sweat and tears to graduate from nursing school, I can't find a job. What should I do?

Friday December 14, 2012
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Dear Donna,

I have been an RN since last May. Words cannot describe how I felt when I graduated from nursing school. The program was really intense and I had to learn how to manage my time, complete all assignments and study for exams. There have been times when I did not see my husband for two weeks because school became my second home. I am sure this sounds familiar to all who have recently graduated or are currently in nursing school.

After graduation, I was prepared for the fact that the economy is bad, but I didn’t realize how bad. Almost everywhere I applied, I was told one year of experience is required. How can I get the experience if no one is willing to hire a new grad? I sent out many resumes and applied to many hospitals and clinics. I have worked hard for my license, and now I can’t practice in my profession because new grads are not welcome. Soon there will be another wave of new grads and I feel bad for all of us, because we put in blood, sweat and tears to graduate.

Frustrated New Grad

Dear Donna replies:

Dear Frustrated New Grad,

First, let me welcome you to the profession and congratulate you on your hard work and sacrifice. It is quite an accomplishment to come this far and to have achieved so much.

That being said, it is important to understand that the job market for nurses is shifting out of the hospital and into alternate inpatient care settings, the community and the home. Also, the entire healthcare system is shifting from waiting until people are sick to work with them, to working at keeping people healthy and well. The role of the nurse is rapidly evolving and changing, as is the nursing job market. This means that nurses, both new and experienced, must look in new directions for employment and must learn and use new methods to find and get those jobs.

Please read “New nurse, new job strategies” (www.Nurse.com/Cardillo/Strategies). This article offers additional insights about the current situation, along with specific tips and advice on finding your first job in nursing as well as what to do while you are looking to stay engaged with your profession and up to date on skills and knowledge.

Also, when a hospital requires one year of experience, this means it is not hiring new nurses at this time. Hospitals cite lack of funds and human resources to provide orientation for new nurses. Plus, there is currently an abundance of experienced nurses in the workforce so hospitals are being very selective. This is not a good thing, though, as eventually hospitals will have to hire newer nurses and if they don’t give them opportunities to work now and integrate them into the system, the hospitals will likely be faced with serious shortages when the current nursing workforce retires en masse.

Many new nurses are attending my Career Alternatives for Nurses seminar to fully explore their career/employment options and learn current self-marketing techniques. See where I'll be at http://www.nurse.com/events/ce-seminars/.

Your career in nursing may not start off as you had envisioned, but staying unemployed for any length of time will only further hinder your career development/marketability. The bottom line is that you will need to be much more proactive in the process of seeking employment and will have to cast your net wider.

Best wishes,

Donna Cardillo, RN, MA, well-known career guru, is Nurse.com’s “Dear Donna” and author of “Your First Year as a Nurse: Making the Transition from Total Novice to Successful Professional” and “The ULTIMATE Career Guide for Nurses: Practical Advice for Thriving at Every Stage of Your Career.” Information about the books is available at www.Nurse.com/CE/7010 and www.Nurse.com/CE/7250, respectively. To ask Donna your question, go to www.Nurse.com/Asktheexperts/Deardonna. Find a “Dear Donna” seminar near you: Call 800-866-0919 or visit http://Events.nursingspectrum.com/Seminar.