New Graduate Nursing Jobs – A Word of Encouragement and a Bit of Advice

“There are no jobs out there for us!” “I thought nursing was supposed to be such a sure thing for job-security, but I can’t get a job anywhere!” “All the positions are for experienced nurses only…how am I supposed to get any experience if no one will hire me?” “Nursing shortage? What nursing shortage? If there’s such a shortage, why aren’t there any jobs?”

This is a typical lament of the newly-graduated nurse, looking for his or her very first job out of school, at least in some parts of the country, and in some situations. I believe that some encouragement is needed, as well as some “sage advice.”

The job market, in some places, is very tight. While it is disheartening, we need to realize that this isn’t completely new. Nursing, as a profession, has been here before, to a degree. When I first began my career, nurses were being laid off, allied professions were being cut…this was over 2 decades ago now. New grads and both current and future nursing students: You’re caught in the middle of a really weird situation right now. Trust me…there is a nursing shortage! And it is going to get worse.

The problem seems to be that, like every other business around, hospitals are having to make the same gut-wrenching budget cuts as everyone else. It’s hitting so many areas of nursing right now…students, faculty, schools, hospitals…everyone is affected by the current economic situation. Hospitals, whether they’re short on nurses or not at the moment, are dealing with a cash-crisis. A brand new nurse, fresh out of school–no matter how many “A’s” you got in nursing school, no matter how many articles you’ve written above and beyond, no matter how many volunteer/student-work/extra-credit hours you’ve logged–a brand new nurse will take close to a full year to mentor and precept into an independent RN. They will spend tens of thousands of dollars on you, above and beyond the salary they pay you, just to get you to the place where you actually “earn” that salary. Don’t be offended…the hospital typically knows that you are a great investment! These just aren’t typical times right now.

You may not believe it right now, but most of the skills of nursing are learned after you get out of school! In school, you are learning the “science” of nursing, the “theory” of nursing. Upon graduation, you will learn how to apply that science and theory in the real world of nursing. Your clinical rotations were not the real world. Nursing requires judgment skills; judgment skills are the result of experience backed by the theory and science you learned in school. It just takes time.

OK, so…what can you do? First, recognize that you DO have options:

1. Realize that your first job is just that…it’s your first job. Few new grads, whether they’re nurses, lawyers, engineers, or architects, land their dream job right out of school. When you say that there are “no jobs anywhere” in your area, is it really NO jobs? Or have you limited yourself in any way by not considering jobs in, shall we call them, “less than desirable” specialties? I really disliked my first year of nursing! But you know what? It was only my first year. Once it was over, I was the “experienced RN” that hospitals were crying out for. I named all my future positions, where and when I wanted them. But that first year, in what amounted to a “glorified nursing home” was not what I had EVER imagined for myself. So…have you really looked everywhere?

2. I have read more than one nursing student posting comments online about how upset they were that there were “NO JOBS” out there, only to then read that she is a senior in nursing school or a brand new graduate nurse who wants to go on to become a nurse anesthetist, and to get into that program she has to have at least a year of ER or ICU experience…and “no one will hire me.” To such students and grads, may I tell you in the kindest way that if any hospital does hire you into their ER or ICU as a new grad, they are setting themselves…and very possibly you..up for a possible lawsuit because of the dire consequences your lack of experience and immature professional judgements may cause someone?

I worked 10 years of my career in critical care…ALL areas of critical care…and new grads simply do not have the knowledge, skill, or judgment abilities to work in these areas. Period. Want to become a Nurse Anesthetist? Then graduate nursing school, take whatever job you need to to get working as a nurse, so you can actually begin to function as a “real” nurse (not just a student nurse!) at the bedside, fulltime. Learn. Learn all you can in that first job. Be the best new nurse you can be.

Get the best peer reviews. Get the best reviews from your Unit Manager. Be the nurse the patients and their families write letters to the hospital directors about (good letters, of course)! Then, at the end of that year, go apply for a job in the ER. Go get a spot in the ICU. Believe me, when you’re in there, you’ll be starting all over again with the learning curve! But when you’re in, you’re in…now, remember what you did that first year in that first position? Do it again. At the end of that year, go apply for that slot in the Nurse Anesthetist program. Smile…you’ll have earned it, because you worked for it. Well worth it!

Again, few new graduates, whatever their profession, land their “dream job” fresh out of college. Most new grads expect to start, oh, somewhere near the bottom, and work their way up, gaining experience, wisdom, and leadership skills along the way that will be used in their futures. In nursing, we are fortunate…the bottom isn’t that far from the top. It doesn’t typically take more than a year of doing what you’d rather not be doing in order to shoot straight to where you do want to be. So just get started.

2. Let’s say you really have looked at every hospital, every nursing home, every assisted living center in your area, and there are NO jobs. You have a decision to make. I tell my own kids this all the time: you can either choose where you want to live, and then work at whatever you like best that is available there, or you can choose what you’d love to do, and then go wherever you have to in order to do it. It’s just that simple. With a career in nursing, If you wait long enough and are willing to do what it takes at first (probably not too long, but be ready for a year or so), you’ll probably be able to have BOTH.

Jobs ARE out there. Go where they are, get your feet wet and become the experienced, independent RN everyone’s looking for! Do what it takes! It’s WORTH IT!

Nursing Schools – A History

The first written history of nursing is contained in the Bible. The Talmud and other writings also mention tending to the ill. In the 5th century BC the Hippocratic Oath was born delineating physician responsibilities and ethics. However, it was far later that nursing became a profession and professional teaching and standards were established.

Starting with the first century AD, tending to the sick was the duty of women in religious orders. As a young child Saint Marcella was heavily influenced by Saint Athanasuis leading her to devote her life to works of Christian charity when widowed after only seven months of marriage. Her palatial home on the Aventine Hill was turned into a center for Christian fellowship and learning. It was during this time that she shared her knowledge of the scriptures and nursing with other noble ladies desiring to live a life of asceticism. For this she earned the title as the very first nurse educator.

This changed in northern Europe with the era of the Crusades during the years 1096 to 1291. Groups such as the Knights Hospitallers of St. John in Jerusalem took over nursing duties. For women, the caring of the infirm became the duty of prisoners or prostitutes. This dark age of nursing saw nurses degraded and tending to the ill or infirm became the most menial of tasks.

This trend was not altered until the middle of the 19th century when pastor Theodor Fliedner founded the Kaiserwerth School for Nursing in 1836 in Kaiserwerth, Germany. Until this point, nurses had little formal training in nursing skills. An offshoot of this school was the Lutheran Order of Deaconessess. In 1850, Florence Nightingale became a student at this institution and forever changed the face of nursing. She was responsible for turning nursing into a profession as she traveled the world sharing her knowledge. In essence, she became the first travel nurse. By the end of the 19th century other schools in Europe had been established to provide nurses training.

After founding the Kaiserwerth School, Theodor Fliedner, along with four deaconesses, traveled to the United States in 1849 to become involved in initiating the first training school in the US at the Pittsburgh Infirmary, later known as Passavant Hospital. They were influence by Florence Nightingale and her philosophy of nursing education; these principles of cleanliness, nurse/patient relationship, disease prevention, continuing education and medical teamwork are still the basis of modern nursing training.

Although states such as New York and Pennsylvania had some nursing teachers on their hospital staff, the Pittsburgh Infirmary became the start of formal nurses’ training in the United States. By 1873, three nursing schools had been established in the US based on the nursing philosophy of Florence Nightingale: these were Bellevue Hospital School of Nursing in New York City, NY, Connecticut Training School in New Haven, CT and Boston Training School in Boston, MA.

Florence Nightingale is credited with bringing respectability to the nursing profession, creating a formal nursing training program. One of her students designed her original nursing uniforms using a system of uniforms with differing bands and to denote skill levels. The uniforms were used by all of the student nurses in her school of nursing and were copied by other nursing schools and hospitals. They remained very much the same until the 20th century.

In the United States, the advent of the Civil War emphasized the need for nurses. Dorothea Dix was selected to be the Superintendent of female Nurses by the Union Army in 1861. She in turn recruited others to assist in the care of the wounded. One of these recruits, Clara Barton, went on to establish the American Red Cross.

The following years saw much advancement in nurses training. Dorothea Dix led the fight for improved health care for the mentally ill. The first college level nursing program was established at Columbia University in 1907 due to the efforts of Mary Adelaide Nutting and Isabel Robb.

In the 1980’s traditional white nursing uniforms gave way to uniform scrubs. Originally worn solely in the operating room in colors of green or blue, uniform scrubs found their way into all areas of hospital nursing and into doctor and dental offices. Companies such as Cherokee Scrubs and Dickies Scrubs expanded the unisex scrub into a uniform with figure flattering styles for all body shapes and a multitude of colors and prints. Different hospital units took to wearing designated colors to differentiate their work space. Prints became fun and many pediatric prints helped make a child’s hospital stay a little less imposing. By the 1990’s uniform scrubs had become very popular, as they were easier to work in. Although some nursing schools still opt for traditional nursing uniforms for its students, many now outfit their nurse trainees in uniforms scrubs, saving the traditional white dress and cap for their capping and graduation ceremonies.

Today, the nursing profession has reached new heights of respectability. With an abundance of nursing schools all over the world, care for the sick is not relegated to untrained workers in most modern countries, leading to better health care and better quality of life.

Nursing PDA’s and Software – How They Can Benefit a Nursing Student and Your Nursing Career

If you are a new nursing student you may want to look into getting a nursing PDA device because it is something that can not only help you while studying and earning your degree but is also something you will use in your career. More so now more than ever most hospitals and even some doctor’s offices are dependent the nurses PDA to help keep patients information adequate and as a way for nurses to double check information.

There is a lot of PDA nursing software on the market today to assist nurses and students in their every day activities. There are PDA medical programs like patient tracking, drug guides, medical references and even student nursing software.

While in school you will be expected to memorize thousands of medications and their uses, which may seem daunting. A PDA for nursing students is a great tool because it allows you to have your Drug Guide, Dictionary and any other references in one place. Also, a nursing PDA for your undergraduate degree is now more a requirement than a nice accessory.

If the idea intrigues you then you may want to look at the nurses PDA from Palm because these are primarily the same ones that are used in hospitals so there is a good chance you will not have to upgrade after school.

There is no margin for error in the workplace so if you are overwhelmed at first it is helpful to have your nursing PDA for constant reference throughout the initial first years. Even experienced nurses find that advantageous since it is impossible to retain every bit of information and when an odd circumstance comes up your main source of information is available in your pocket.

Nursing School Scholarships

Financial Aid for Nursing Schools – Part 1 Nursing School Scholarships
Thankfully for the prospective nursing student, nursing is a field that has an abundance of scholarships and grants available. This article covers one specific avenue available to prospective nursing students and that is the nursing school scholarship. Subsequent articles cover grants and other forms of financial aid available to nursing students.

To begin, scholarships basically fall into three main categories: need-based, merit-based or what is referred to as “service-based”.

Luckily there quite a few nursing school scholarships available. Government scholarship funding is generously allocated to nursing programs across the country. Nearly every state has some kind of grant or nursing school scholarship program available for prospective and continuing nursing students.

There is also an ample source of private foundations that offer one-time and continuing nursing school scholarships. Private and professional organizations often offer scholarship support as well. Even the five military branches offer scholarships for enlisted personnel (sometimes even their immediate families) who wish to obtain a degree in nursing.

Need-based Scholarships
Need-based nursing scholarships are awarded based on the financial need of the prospective or continuing student or to members of social groups that have poor representation (in numbers of enrolled students) in colleges and universities. Some need-based scholarships focus on specific ethnic groups, such as Hispanic, Arabic, Japanese or African American. These nursing scholarships are also available to people with disabilities.

Merit-Based Scholarships
Merit-based nursing scholarships are awarded by a either a college or university or sometimes a private group or foundation. These scholarships often require a lengthy essay or an in-person interview with their scholarship committee that is in charge of selecting the scholarship recipients. Prospective nursing students are often required to submit a reference letter from an employer or past (or current) teacher to the scholarship committee. Recipients are determined by the scholarship committee based on student’s past and current academic achievements sometimes considering the student’s participation in a type of community service.

Service-Based Scholarships
Th United States government often sponsors nursing scholarships to students. The U.S. government also has various nursing scholarships in the Veterans Affairs Health Careers and the National Health Service Corps. After graduation, recipients of nursing school scholarships are then required to fulfill their contract with the U.S. government and serve between two and eight years in one of the five military branches, depending on the agreed upon arrangement when the scholarship was obtained.

Nursing school scholarships can be found in:

  • Professional Scholarship Associations
  • Government and Military Scholarship programs
  • Private foundations

Professional Association Scholarships
Many professional groups have an interest in producing and hopefully obtaining well educated graduates in the nursing field. Often professional organization hopes the nurse they invested in will return their investment by studying research, current trends and advancements in various technologies that could positively affect their patient holdings. With this methodology, professional associations often encourage the best qualified candidates to reach their nursing school goals.

Professional associations can also be based on educational history. They often draw upon or consult The American Association of Colleges of Nursing who connect professionals in colleges and universities.

Organizations of this nature can also emphasize certain locations to special experiences. Their financial aid awards can be limited in scope.

Government and Military Scholarships
The United States government offers nursing scholarships to students across the nation. The National Health Service Corps encourages students to serve in struggling locations in return for financial aid. The Us Department of Health also sponsors several forms financial aid to nursing students.

Any of the five U.S. military branches may also offer financial aid for nursing students. Most often, students must be ROTC members. The Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, Marines and Navy all offer financial aid to assist with nursing schools.

While this list has only cursively discussed the opportunities available to those interested in getting a degree in nursing, there are many more avenues and combinations of scholarships that can be explored. In subsequent articles we will discuss nursing grants and repayable financial aid.