Nursing is a great career but you must be ready for adversity and hard work
Some people seek nursing because they want to have a stable and secure job and a decent wage. Some people are natural-born nurses, and they always knew that. Others try nursing to see if they like it. Yet others are changing carriers and are looking for an alternative in nursing. But most people seeking nursing have little idea what they are getting themselves into.
No one should go into nursing thinking it will be a easy solution for their professional needs. If you go into nursing just for for the money, you might want to re evaluate your career plans. Nursing have changed dramatically since 2008; wages, job security, stability, and satisfaction have turned upside down for the most part.
After the great recession all professions underwent dramatic restructuring. But nursing did not escape this trend. Health care laws, insurance laws, and health care delivery have dramatically changed. Some of these changes happened due to a shift in administration as hospitals and other health care institutions have become more corporate and less community oriented.
No one knows how long it will this trend last; nursing like everything else is subject to changes. What we do know is that nursing is not as it was before 2008. It is a wise move today to go into nursing knowing the new changes and what to expect from nursing.
My first recommendations is:
Don’t spend too much time and money becoming a nurse in a hurry. Take your time and go at a slow pace.
These changes created by the recession have affected other professions as well, but nursing is unlike any other profession out there. You cannot be a nurse and practice nursing on your own or even learn on your own. You must be trained by a hospital and pass all the state regulations and requirements. Hospitals are by default are the most influential arms and hands of health care. Hospitals to a great extent decide who gets trained and who can start working. Right now hospitals don’t find it profitable to train new nurses.
Hospitals used to be vigorous employers, but now they are anemic job creator. There are several reasons for this downward trend but this limit your ability to start working in significant ways. Hospitals determine weather you get in or not and new Grads know this very well as they find hospital doors closed.
The good news is that nursing offer many alternatives and fields to work. Nurses don’t only have to work in hospitals. In fact there is a trend now where many nurses are trying to leave hospital environment altogether because of increasingly stressful workplace, short staffing, impossible time management, lack of support and a patient load that is sicker then ever. Some of other areas of nursing such as home care, hospice, are offering almost hospital wages without the high stress. Many nurses will take a pay cut in order to work in a non toxic environment.
The alternative for acute care is to work in clinics, nursing homes, and home care. Nurses can expect to find on call, part-time positions, med pass jobs in nursing homes, and some positions in clinics. Pay is about half of what nurses make in acute care and some of these jobs can be easily performed by LVN’s or MA’s making it more difficult for nurses to get these jobs. Most importantly is good to know that these positions don’t actually count as the required experience to become an acute care RN.
Although nursing has gone through all of these restructuring, nothing has been done in nursing schools in order to accommodate these changes. There is a huge gap between how much money, energy, you have to pay compared to what you actually make after graduation. Bottom line you need to accommodate and adjust for these changes.
Zero nursing shortage, and the false propaganda
For now, nursing shortage is well over. Although there are some talks about a market rebound in 2020, it remains to be seen. Former nursing gluts have lasted an average of 2 years; this one is different. Hospitals are closing units and sending patients home much sooner, nurses are being laid off, and new nurses are not being trained. Nursing schools are popping up everywhere and the number of graduates greatly outpace the number of jobs offered. This nursing glut is historically different, it has been going on since 2008 and show no signs of reversing.
However the myth of the “nursing shortage” lives on, in part perpetuated by nursing schools trying to maintain their business and also because there a “potential” nursing shortage looming in the future. For now there is no nursing shortage. Nurses with 10 years of experience are having a hard time finding a job. That spells “no nursing shortage.” Please don’t think you going to somehow beat the odds.
Young and older are drawn to nursing because they desire to have stable and rewarding jobs. People just don’t want to give up the idea that nursing delivers stable and secure jobs; it is just too good of a idea to let go. People fight to get into nursing school, and they borrow as much money as they need to complete their degree, thinking that they will find a high-paying job at the end.
Only 40% of graduate nurses actually find these good jobs right away, they are either lucky or know somebody, or they made a good connection with staff at their last rotation. For the other 60%, it is a rude awakening and finding a job it can a marathon. You are now out on your own with no job and a $60-120 K loan on your back.
The scant nursing experience you picked up at your rotations is quickly evaporating and you will face a new problem few new grad nurses are aware of. You only have about a 1 – 1.5 years to find training. If you can’t you are out of luck. New Grad programs who used to train nurses not longer exist. They might not tell you that in nursing school.
The disappearance of New Grad Programs
Before 2008 there used to be a well established process in which nurses were trained and introduced to the workforce. Every hospital used to have New Grad (NG) programs. At least once a year, every hospital would have a New Grad program for an average of 10 new grads. This has dwindled to a mere few here and there; a few hospitals taking a few new grads. This used to be the only lifeline for nurses to join the workforce. The lack of these programs creates serious difficulties for new nurses.
To make matters worse, for every one vacancy offered there are 1000 + applicants. It’s almost like a lottery. New Grad programs have for many years been the standard, unspoken agreement nursing schools had with hospital industry. Schools would educate with little “hands on” experience and hospitals would provide the rest with their NG programs. There used to be two openings for every student at the end of nursing school.
New Grad programs are for the most part extinct. Hospitals and their new corporate model don’t see it as their responsibility to train new nurses, or they simply don’t see it as profitable or they simply don’t need to train new nurses because the market is flooded with nurses. In other words you need not apply if out of school for over 1 year. What kinds of jobs can you find if you have not been trained?
Time to re-evaluate a nursing carer
Nursing school is really geared to hospital work. Most young new nurses have a hospital care frame of mind and nursing programs are mostly designed to train nurses to work in hospitals. Whether you go in a different direction or not hospital experience is vital to nurses. Acute care will provide all the necessary skills that can then be applied to different types of nursing. Nurses have to find experience wherever they can, but this is difficult because with no experience you can’t touch a patient. It’s the law.
With a lot of sacrifice, some find work in nursing homes, skilled facilities, clinics, home care. These jobs however don’t pay the wages most nurses need in order to pay their loans. These jobs pay anything from $20 -35/h depending on what part of the country you’re in. Once you start working at let’s say a nursing skilled facility (NSF), it becomes difficult to go back into acute care. Acute care hiring managers do not consider skilled facility as qualifying experience.
But there is nothing wrong with these jobs, which brings me to the point of this article: You might want you to re visit your expectations for nursing. Now is the time to think about what nursing really is, and ask yourself, “Do I want that?” Taking care of people involves a human sacrifice you might not be up to. On a positive note, you’ll still make more money than many other occupations out there and nursing can bring lots of satisfaction once you find your footing.
If you try hard, eventually you’ll start finding work; the more experience you have more work will come your way. Nurses are respected and there are some real life skills you’ll take home. Nursing will always be an amazing profession because it is one of the most direct-impact careers you can have. You deal with real situations, life and death and it just doesn’t get any more intense and rewarding than that.
Nursing used to be a very safe and stable profession but now offers the same road blocks as many other professions do. Nursing is still a noble profession and I encourage you to try. But if you go into it with the old mindset, you are in for a surprise. Prepare yourself for the task and apply your critical thinking from the get go. In the end it might be all a part of your training.
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