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Is it the right decision to not seek employment while I am taking classes full time?

Wednesday March 20, 2013
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Dear Donna,

I am a 22-year-old licensed RN with an associate degree and a full-time student in a RN-to-BSN program. I am unemployed and have no hospital experience, just my clinical rotations, which ended back in January 2012. I expect to graduate in December 2014. I don't think I would be able to juggle school and work if I were to start working in the middle of my BSN courses. I only have one clinical rotation that starts in September 2014, my last semester. I need advice on how to be marketable and find a job as soon as I graduate. I want to keep focused on school and graduate without repeating classes. Would volunteering in a hospital help? Is it the right decision to not seek employment while I am taking classes full time? Because it will be two years since I got my license, should I take a nursing refresher course after I graduate with my BSN?

Needs an Opinion

Dear Donna replies:

Dear Needs an Opinion,

As you my already know, the hospital job market for all nurses is very tight right now, especially for new nurses. Getting that BSN is important.

There is no right decision about whether or not you should work as a nurse while finishing your BSN. However, if you don't work, you should at least do some volunteer work as a nurse during that time. If you can find a nurse volunteer position in a hospital, that’s great — otherwise look for something in your local public health department, hospice, Red Cross or free clinic.

Once you graduate from your BSN program, or just before, you can start looking for hospital work, if that is what you want. A refresher course would probably be a good idea then. See what type of feedback you get from employers about whether or not it would make you more marketable in their eyes. The job market likely will have shifted somewhat by then, and hospitals may have more support programs available for newer nurses or those without hospital experience.

Also, it is important that you join and stay active in the American Nurses Association (www.nursingworld.org) now and moving forward. This will keep you up-to-date on trends and issues, grow your professional network and provide support and camaraderie. It is imperative that you immerse yourself in the nursing community. Networking is known to be a very effective way to find a job when the time is right.

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.