Do you know what it takes to land your first entry-level nursing job?
There are, of course, the obvious qualities you need to possess to get a job as a nurse: excellent patient care skills, ability to work as part of a team, and being ready and eager to learn new things.
But do you know the “most correct answer?”
Eileen M. Horton, MSN, MSM ‘00, RN, vice president of patient services and chief nursing officer for Capital Health in Hopewell, N.J., began her career as a maternity nurse and knows what nursing students need to do to launch a career in healthcare post-graduation.
How? Because she is also the one that hires them.
And, as an Accelerated 2nd Degree BSN student, you have the rare opportunity to leverage your other academic experiences to make your career goals happen. So to help you get that first entry-level nursing job, Horton believes there is one, little-known characteristic that can set you apart.
As a nursing student, the key is to not be anonymous or blend in. Throughout your clinical experience, make your interests and career goals known to nurse managers even before you complete your degree. The best way to do that, says Horton, is to advocate for yourself and put yourself out there.
Assertive, however, does not mean pushy or aggressive - it means honest and sincere. If you want to work in a particular unit or speciality, make it known that you are willing to do what it takes to get there.
How Can You Be Assertive?
Clinical experiences offer a rare opportunity to not only prove you have a strong skill set, but that you are a great fit, too. If you feel that fit, say so in the last six weeks of your clinical experience. This is how you can differentiate yourself from any future job applicants early on, believes Horton.
Nurse managers consider a number of candidates for any one position. And if you apply for an opening long after your clinicals are over, your chances of standing out amongst the other applicants can be challenging.
That is when a brief 15-minute preinterview with the nurse manager prior to the end of your clinicals can help. Horton recommends making an appointment to see the nurse manager and introducing yourself. Use the time to talk about your career interests or if you have already applied for a position. Follow up your preinterview with a note, reinforcing your interest in working there in the future. Should a position open up after your clinicals have ended, you can contact the nurse manager again to say hello and let them know you applied.
Think Outside the Box
Most nursing students overlook tech and per diem job openings while earning their degree. But these kinds of positions can expose you to a wider network, advises Horton. Working a few hours at night or on the weekends can help demonstrate that you have practical experience in the field beyond your clinical rotations. And, when a full-time position does opens up, who better than to consider someone already familiar with the facility or unit?
As an accelerated nursing student, you are in a prime position, believes Horton. Students who already possess a non-nursing degree and graduate from an accelerated nursing program are highly regarded in the eyes of prospective employers. Your diverse career and academic experiences reflect a motivated and mature background. Your reputation as a hard worker with the ability to perform well in a variety of different roles will precede you. So go make it happen.
Written by Thomas Edison State University