A Career Roadmap for New Grad RNs in 2016


By Jennifer Larson, contributor

If you’re looking forward to graduating from nursing school soon, hopefully you’ve already started thinking about how to land that first nursing job. It’s never too early to start planning.

And if you’re a recent grad who’s still looking for a job, take heart. Healthcare employment has recently shown promising gains, adding nearly a half-million jobs over the past 12 months, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Additionally, AMN Healthcare’s 2015 Survey of Registered Nurses forecasts a wave of retirements among older nurses, which could open up positions for new grad RNs and other less experienced nurses.

Among the nearly 9,000 nurses surveyed, 62 percent of those over age 54 said they’re contemplating retirement within the next three years; nearly a third of them are even thinking of making that move within the next year.

Susan Sanders, DNP, RN, NEA-BC, vice president of nursing for Kaplan Test Prep, travels to nursing schools across the country, and she always inquires about the job situation for new grads.

“Nurses continue to be in high demand, but the need for new nurses varies by region of the country,” she said. “Some locations are hiring new graduates, while others are not--hiring is not especially high in acute care settings.”

Sanders has found that job openings tend to be more plentiful in places in the South, compared to California and the Northeast. The competition for hospital jobs in certain regions has been a source of frustration for some new grad nurses.

However, jobs for new nurses are definitely out there, especially if you’re willing to be flexible.

Teri Pipe, PhD, RN, dean and professor at the ASU College of Nursing & Health Innovation, suggested, “Be flexible in expectations of locations, population served, specialty, salary and hours of work. You may need to ‘pay your dues’ for a while until you have more experience.”

Added Sanders, “Besides looking in a range of places around the country, recent nursing grads may find it easier to get a job if they are open to working nights and weekends, as those are the shifts that tend to be more available.”

Finishing Nursing School? Follow this advice!

A few strategies to help new grad RNs propel their career forward in 2016:

1.  Create an outstanding résumé. Ask your mentors and colleagues for suggestions for improvement. List any awards or recognitions you’ve received, in addition to your credentials and skills, and use the information for all online applications.
2.  Do your homework on employers. Visit their websites and contact people you know who might work there already. Learn more about their facilities, department structure and their mission, and how you can contribute.
3.  Use your networks.  Take advantage of available networks, including friends, faculty, and social media to determine what jobs are out there--and which ones suit your skills.
4.  Prepare for interviews. Develop answers for some standard interview questions so you’ll be ready with a thoughtful answer. Do some mock interviews with a trusted faculty member or others in the healthcare arena as you prepare to speak to potential employers. “Use feedback effectively to improve your written and communication style so that you effectively convey your skills and your ‘brand,’” suggested Pipe.
5.  Be patient. If you don’t land your ideal job right off the bat, expand your search. Don’t give up!

Another option to consider: if you’ve already logged six months of on-the-job experience in an acute care specialty, you could apply for a travel nurse position with one of NursingJobs’ travel staffing partners. In addition to offering valuable experience that can benefit your nursing career, travel nursing is a fun lifestyle choice that allows nurses to experience new locations during short-term assignments across the country. Free housing, travel reimbursements, competitive pay, health insurance and host of additional benefits are included.

Jump-start your nursing career:find your next job on NursingJobs.com.

© 2015. AMN Healthcare, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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