How Far Should a Nurse Graduate Go for a Job?

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There are conflicting reports concerning the future state of the nursing job market. Some experts predict that the combination of the Affordable Care Act and aging baby boomers will result in a flood of openings to the nursing job market. While other experts contend that healthcare is entering a recession and nurses’ jobs are at stake. What will happen in the future of nursing? Only time will reveal the truth.

What we can assess is the present state of the nursing job market as anecdotally reported by nursing graduates. If you peruse forums and social media sites such as Linkedin the same story seems to be repeated online:

I am a nurse graduate that has passed NCLEX. I have put in over one hundred applications. I have only been called and interviewed twice. I am not applying for premium jobs in specialty areas or premium shifts. I have applied to hospitals, clinics, and long-term care facilities. I am also putting in applications for facilities that are up to a two hour commute away. During my long job search I have completed various certifications to get a competitive edge. What am I doing wrong? Why are more recruiters not calling? Why do hospitals always list one year of experience as a job requirement? Why won’t they give new grads a chance?

In an effort to answer their questions, I usually respond in forums and social media with an answer such as:

  • There is not a nursing shortage. There is a shortage of experienced and qualified nurses that employers want to hire. Also, there is a shortage of experienced and qualified nurses that will accept the job conditions that many employers are offering.
  • Employers want to hire experienced nurses so that they won’t need to orient new nurses. Healthcare is a business and training new nurses affects their bottom dollar.
  • Your job application may not even reach the nurse recruiter’s desk if it was submitted online. They screen out the applicants that they determine are unqualified for the job during the computerized application process.

I encourage them to keep the faith, try some new tactics, and continue to submit job applications. Then I break the news that most nurse grads do not want to hear….

Depending on the job market in your geographical area, you may have to move away from home to land your first job in nursing. Or, you may have to commute to a larger city, stay in a hotel, and work your three twelve hour shifts in a row before commuting back home. This is the ugly reality that many new nurses are facing. However, in some cases these nurses are able to spend a year or two away from home, gain nursing experience, and then leverage that experience to land a job closer to home.

Social media aside, I can not even count the number of nurses I have personally met over the last five years that have told me a similar story. What about where you live? Is this the reality that new nurse grads are facing? Feel free to leave your geographical area and the job market conditions for new nurse grads in the comments section below.

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