Finding a Good Nursing Job Used to be easy. Today it can be a struggle
Before 2008 nursing jobs were easy to find. Back then young nurslings were already being recruited after graduation – this is not the case anymore. There were two new-grad positions for every nurse back then. Nursing was worth the hard work and the educational cost as placement was guaranteed. Fast forward to 2018 and the employment situation for nurses has changed drastically.
Nurses are still desperately needed but they are simply not being hired. Today, is all about cutting costs for hospitals and facilities. I wish I didn’t have to write this post, but I’m just sharing what my experience since graduation in 2010.
Before you decide to spend your money and energy, plunging into nursing books and classes, be prepared to face a new environment. Don’t get fooled by promises of great carrear, great pay and easy access to jobs. Remember, these adds are sponsored by nursing agencies, schools and the nursing industry in general. They are also competing for your dollars.
Here’s a snapshot of what’s happening
Before 2008 for example, Med Surg. positions were frowned upon. New Grads were aiming at ICU’s, ER, or L&D jobs. Today you’ll be lucky to get a Med Surg. job. Competition is fierce and employers are fussy, many positions and units have been eliminated. Large hospital conglomerates buy small hospitals and consolidate care eliminating staff. Entire units are eliminated because they don’t produce profits.
Insurance companies limit coverage, employers offer no insurance and less people get treated and cared for. With less people treated less nurses are needed.
- Lack of training
The other big problem is with training. Not training new nurses became a money saving technique widely used by hospitals looking for ways to cut costs. And with so many experienced nurses available, new nurses are simply not being trained. This trend is starting to revert within the last few months but remain sluggish in the big centers like SF Bay Area, LA, NYC and other large centers.
- Your license doesn’t mean much without training
According to various articles, costs for training new grads vary between 15,000-50,000. With so many experienced nurses looking for work, there’s no need to train new nurses. Dismantling new training programs can amount to huge savings.
New-grad programs today are a far cry from what they used to be. Few hospitals take a few. The lack of training makes it almost impossible for a new nurse with a license to get a job in acute care. No matter what you do, no matter how many applications you fill online, your lack of experience will stop you in the tracks. In nursing you can’t train yourself. You can’t go out and build your skills. You are either let in or you’re not. As time goes by it doesn’t get any better.
- Nursing catch 22
You can only work if you have experience and you can only be experience if you work. This well known catch 22 is worst in nursing due to the highly controlled and regulated nature of health care.
In nursing, you can only be on your own if you know what you’re doing. You simply have to be trained by a hospital or no one will hire you. Hospitals and clinics are under tremendous scrutiny by the state who monitors constantly. There are rules, and hospital fines are huge.
- New grads get stuck
Some people get jobs, that’s true. About half of the new graduates get jobs, but if you don’t get a job within a year, you can find yourself stuck. You no longer qualify as a new grad and at the same time you don’t have any experience. You are stuck in a uncharted territory with no one to lend you a hand. Your friend who have gotten jobs don’t want to hear about the “no job crap” anymore. They are happy gaining experience and making good money. Your school can’t help you either and your are basically on your own. But wait there is hope; help is on the way.
- Versant, RN residency and volunteering programs
These programs are designed to fill the void and give you the experience you so need. That’s great, but only if it were true. Unfortunately these programs don’t guarantee you job placement or the one year experience you desperately need. But the worst part is that not only you have the humiliation of working for free but you actually have to pay to have this experience! With an average 80,000 debt in student loans the last thing you need is to spend more money trying to become a nurse.
The desperation of nurses who can’t get jobs after graduation is so great it pushes them into the hands of abuse. They end up paying for the opportunity to practice nursing for free. Such was the case with the “transition to practice” program at Sutter California Pacific Medical Center where students had to pay tuition fees of $200 plus fees for background checks, health exams, vaccination, and their own malpractice and liability insurance, among other costs.
Even more disturbing are the private companies who are partnering up with hospitals. These programs have no public transparency and should be reported. Please read more about transitioning programs in a article from the National Nurses United. Please report programs who are taking advantage of nurses to: NationalNurse@NationalNursesUnited.org
So without having any place to go people flock to the net. That’s great and there are so many resources on the net. But the internet has it’s own evils too. The internet can help you but it can also be used as a tool to keep you cast away.
- The internet can help but also hinders
If you are a determined individual and most nurses are, you go out of your comfort zone and meet people one on one. You introduce yourself, shake hands and hand out resumes. These actions are now for the most part a waste of time. Managers will talk to you, or not. Sometimes they simply hide from you. The reason is because they now have little power to make recommendations to HR.
The new corporate model hospitals have now adopted removes the power of managers to make indications. Everything is handled by people in other departments or above them. Large hospitals have HR in different locations and everything is done online and not at a local level. Because there are so many nurses looking for work they will hand pick who they want. Your efforts in showcasing yourself are basically useless. The only currency with value today is experience, and that you wont be getting unless they train you.
- What can you do if you do if you’re drowning in this nursing nightmare
Now that I have made you completely depressed let me say a few words of encouragement. Don’t be negative, things change. In fact they might change quite quickly, suddenly and unexpectedly. I know how hard is to keep you skills and hopes alive but if you do you’ll be rewarded in the end.
Another proof the job market for nurses is weak in America. An Indian Hospital recruiting nurses in the U.S. An add commonly found on Facebook
- Start working in anything health care
- Continue to apply to every job you can
- Move to areas where no one wants to go
- Network, network, network
- Work in Nursing Skilled Facilities
- Despair or be negative
- Volunteer your way to a job
- Transition programs
- Wait for the perfect job
- Work in something else other then nursing
Nursing is a noble, worthwhile, and rewarding profession. The obstacles now may be temporary and relative to a changing economy. Nursing changes and like working on a floor; everything changes unexpectedly and quickly. Remember that if you become a nurse, only you can do the job of a nurse. This translates to something like: “when they need you they really need you”.
If hospitals are not hiring other places might be. Nursing homes and clinics can be a good place to start and there is always something to learn in these places in fact there is a lot to learn in these places. I think one mistake some new grads make is to not do anything and wait until a hospital job or “the perfect jog” comes up.
Things will get better. They are already getting better. In the Bay Area, a highly competitive market where pay is one of the best in the country, hospitals are staring to hire again. Unfortunately because there are so many experienced nurses looking for work, untrained nurses are at the end of the line.
However the new grads who have been busy are first in line to be hired. So get busy. Volunteering might be good but don’t expect to be hired by the institution who you volunteer to. In a few years from now things might quite different but no one knows for certain when will that be. Good luck and keep trying.
- Article on the National Nurse Magazine
- Lost Generation
- Decrease New Graduate Nurse Orientation Costs by Using HESI Exit Exam Scores
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License.
Image credit: Andrés Nieto Porras