Are Nursing Careers Impossible for New Grads?

NursingApril 20, 2014

Due to an aging population who will require medical services, nursing careers are expected to increase by 19 percent by 2022, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Additionally, Baby Boomer nurses will eventually retire, leaving a gap that will need to be filled by well-prepared nurses.

At present, the demand for nurses remains high, with experienced nurses in demand in many facilities. For new graduates from nursing school however, the prospects are less rosy; many new grads may spend several months searching for jobs.

Why the Lengthy Job Search?

New graduates need extensive training to obtain the same level of competency of a nurse with experience. It is estimated that a new nurse will cost upwards of $90,000, in a time when hospitals are looking to slim their budgets.

Additionally nursing schools, new and old, have increased enrollment. Which means every semester, hundreds of new graduates embark on their nursing careers, seeking positions that are simply not there. A unit in a hospital can only sustain a few new grads to take care of patients safely, so with few spots available, it can take some time before one is ready for you.

What Can New Grads Do?

Don't despair, while the search may not be easy, there are things that you can do to improve your chances of being hired.

1. Get Good Grades

Hospitals are known to cherry-pick: Be competitive by having a high GPA.

2. Pass the NCLEX

It is rare for a new grad to be considered for a job without their license in hand. Study hard and pass the first time.

3. Be Open to ALL Opportunities

Home health and long term care may not be your dream job, but they can open doors to further opportunities that are currently closed. A nurse may start out in a pediatric rehabilitation center and end up at a local children's hospital. You may be disappointed if you hold out for that NICU position without stepping into other roles first.

4. Get Certified

Obtaining professional certifications will increase your legitimacy among employers. ACLS and PALS are great places to start.

5. Be Willing to Relocate

Your area may be saturated with new grads looking for jobs; other states may beg you to come and work for them. You may never know if you don't look.

6. Keep Applying

It's easy to become discouraged after many rejections, but that next application could be the one. The lesson: Apply everywhere and apply often.

7. Network

Your nursing school friends may have better luck than you in getting a job. Ask them to put in a good word for you — it can go a long way in distinguishing you from everyone else. Any contacts you may have with a current employee at a hospital are fair game, so leave a good impression on everyone you meet!

8. Get an Externship

While you're in school, an externship will show employers what you're made of. This can often lead to a job offer.

While it is a challenging time to begin a career, it is certainly not impossible. Nursing careers are the backbone of healthcare and are not going away. If your dream is a career in nursing, don't give up! Healthcare needs dedicated, compassionate and competent nurses.

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons