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School is over.  Work begins.  A never ending cycle of demands, although one is much more appealing since you will be paid to suffer rather than the more masochistic system of school where you pay to suffer.

Nursing is a second career for me so I have a more relaxed view regarding job hunting.  I don’t care which specialty or floor I start on.  I don’t care so much about who pays most.  I don’t even care if I love the hospital.  I care about one thing: experience.  I can work almost anywhere for a year or two if I know that I’m accomplishing the one thing that matters most.

People say, “Oh nursing is great, you can do anything and work anywhere!”  There should be a caveat added to the end of that statement “… after you work a couple of years first.”  To enjoy the freedom that a career in nursing can bring you, you must work first.  Anywhere.  Doing anything.  As long as it’s on a hospital floor and you have an RN license.

I’ve also experienced enough in life that I understand and accept the fact that what I want and plan for now is not necessarily what’s going to happen (or what should happen for that matter).  It’s better to keep an open mind, be available for opportunities you never considered; don’t be so stuck on working in the ER that you are jobless or worse, you get in the ER but at a terrible hospital with horrible co-workers/management.

Job Tip #1

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Work somewhere healthcare related (hospital looks best on the resume) while you’re in school.  Students who had OK grades but had experience were already way ahead of the A students who worked no where.  If you lean toward the C end of the grade scale, a job becomes more important, otherwise you won’t be a competitive contender (an employer will hire an A student with no experience before they’ll hire a C student with no experience).  Whether you’d choose to believe it or not, society does quantify the worth of people.

Job Tip #2

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Get your resume and a CV template done at the beginning of S2 (or sooner).  Open accounts and create graduate nurse internship notification alerts at all the hospitals you’re interested in.  You will be glad you did because internships open toward the end of the semester (when finals are coming, last minute things are due, etc.)  Everyone is stressed but if you’re prepared, all you have to do is hit “submit” then sip your martini.

Job Tip #3

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“I love med-surg!  That’s where I want to work!” said no nursing student ever.  That being said, if there’s a department you want, interview for it.  However, interview for other departments too.  Don’t be an ICU snob because let’s face it: we all like critical care but we all won’t start there.  And don’t forget that this is not the be-all and end-all!  You can change jobs in the future.  This is not your one and only chance to get the position you want.

Job Tip #4

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Practice, rehearse, prepare!  Look up the hospital/research the floor and pick three things you genuinely like (for that question, “Why do you want to work here?”)  Have five or six Q&As you rehearse in your head over and over.  This will help avoid awkward pauses, blank stares and “uhhh’s” when you’re asked a question during an interview.  Most common nursing interview questions for new grads include:

  1. “Tell us a little bit about yourself.”  (i.e., why and how did you come to pick nursing?)
  2. “Why do you want to work at X hospital or on X floor?” (the hospital is a leader in research, there is room to learn and grow)
  3. “Tell us about a time where you handled a problem successfully.” (i.e., did you throw a syringe at a doctor and tell them to suck a fat one?)
  4. “When were you a leader?”  (I used my capstone project for community health as an example)
  5. “If patient A has fallen, patient B needs a meal tray, and patient C has a STAT blood draw ordered, which would you see first?”  (i.e., can you prioritize, recognize safety issues)

Job Tip #5

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Don’t forget to laugh and keep a sense of humor.  Be cool.  Stay chill.  Sarcasm will save the day!  You can do this!

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