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I'm a new grad who had a bad experience at a SNF and now I'm unemployed. Given the lack of hospital positions, what do you suggest?

Monday June 3, 2013
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Dear Donna,

In 2012, I graduated from nursing school and passed the boards. You mentioned in a previous post that new grads should consider a position in a long-term care or skilled nursing facility, given the lack of hospital openings.

After training at a skilled nursing facility for five days with a terrible nurse who refused to give prescribed pain medication to a man in severe pain, I was put on the floor without any warning, to work a regular shift. I had up to 25 patients all to myself. I was switched to the PM shift and then to the night shift — each time, without any orientation. At times, I was alone in the unit with 50-60 patients, with no training on codes or falls. The pace needed in order to get the medications dispensed.’’ in a timely fashion was unsafe, and proper assessment of residents was impossible.

So now I'm back to being unemployed. I refuse to go back to a SNF because they all seem to have a reputation for treating nurses like this. Also, positions as travelers, in home health and other fields still require two years’ acute care experience, despite hospital jobs decreasing. I'm working on my RN-to-BSN degree. In the meantime, I’m volunteering in a clinic drawing blood. I've applied to residency positions in remote areas with no success. I don't know what else to do. What do you suggest?

Unemployed New Nurse

Dear Donna replies:

Dear Unemployed New Nurse,

A SNF is one possibility for some new nurses, (large national LTC companies and SNFs associated with acute care systems seem to do better), you have many other options. While some employers require hospital experience, there are others that are hiring and precepting new nurses. Many have no idea about the hospital job market for new nurses. You may have to look longer and cast your net wider, but the opportunities are out there.

More importantly, you have to be very proactive in the job search process. You must have top-notch self-marketing and networking skills. Read this article: “New nurse, new job strategies” (www.Nurse.com/Cardillo/Strategies) and be sure you are doing everything suggested. Furthering your education and doing the volunteer work is great. Attend nursing association meetings regularly, even as a guest for now, such as your area chapter of the American Nurses Association (www.nursingworld.org) and any specialty association that interests you. It's even better if you join (many have reduced dues for new nurses) and participate. Networking is how everything happens. While many nurses are not accustomed to using networking to find a job, it is known to be very effective. When there's something you want to do, it makes sense to rub elbows with those already doing it. As a new nurse, it is vital you immerse yourself in the nursing community.

While travel nurse agencies require some experience because you have to hit the ground running as a traveler, some regular nursing agencies may have other types of nonhospital work. Be sure to contact out-patient hemodialysis facilities, acute rehab facilities (those affiliated with a larger healthcare system), cancer care centers and psychiatric facilities.

I am starting to see signs that the job market for nurses is slowly beginning to open up again.

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.