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How to Get Your First Nursing Job

March 6th, 2009  |  The Blog

It’s a Catch 22: You can’t get a job as a specialty nurse without experience, but how are you supposed to get nursing experience without a job. Sound familiar? Here are three tips that will help you find your dream job.

Tip One: Start Building Your Resume When You Are In Nursing School.

Hospitals traditionally like growing their own nurses to fill spots in their nursing rosters. Three year diploma schools started that trend years ago, and it continues in today’s workplace. Older, more experienced nurses aren’t leaving their jobs because of the economy, so there are fewer jobs for nurses coming up the ranks. That means that nursing students who know what unit they want to work on when they graduate need to go and talk to the unit’s head nurse now. Let them know that you want to work for them when you graduate and ask them what you need to do right now to start preparing for a position on the unit. They might help you get a job as a nurse’s aid on their unit, and make sure that you get some work hours that don’t conflict with your school schedule. Get to know people on the unit, and choose a mentor that can teach you things that you’ll never learn out of a book.

Tip Two: Work PRN Until a Full Time Position Opens Up

Older nurses approaching retirement age are staying in the workforce longer because of the of the faltering economy, which means there are fewer fulltime jobs available for new nurses entering the job market. The best thing to do is sign up to work PRN in a lot of different places. This will help you get the number of work hours you need each week in order to survive in addition to opening a lot of doors for you later on down the line. Fulltime positions are usually offered to part timers first when those positions become available. Working PRN in many different areas also gives you extra job experience, which translates into a richer and fuller resume.

Tip Three: Have a Friend Introduce You To Their Boss

My father was a smart man. He always said, “It’s not always what you know that will get you ahead in life. It’s who you know that counts.” No truer words were ever spoken when it comes to the nursing profession. My last three jobs came to me by word of mouth. The jobs weren’t posted. I just put some feelers out and my friends came back with some leads. They talked to a few people who set me up with a couple of interviews. Nursing is a small world, especially in the area where I grew up. Use your resources and start networking. There isn’t anything wrong with using a few connections when you’re looking for a job.

Do you have any job-hunting stories you want to share? Come to Nursing Voices and tell us about it. We’re waiting to hear from you.

Terri Polick
About Terri Polick
Terri Polick has been a nurse for thirty years, and is a published author living in Maryland, just outside of Washington, D.C. She is currently working as a freelance writer, and is a frequent contributor to Nursing Spectrum Magazine. Terri works at a local community hospital as a psychiatric nurse.

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