New Grad Nurse Skipped the Hospital

Keith Carlson
Keith Carlson

By Keith Carlson, BSN, RN, NC-BC     

When I finished nursing school, I told my classmates and professors that I wasn’t going to look for a hospital or med/surg job. You would’ve thought I’d told them I was planning to shoot myself. Their questions, warnings, and doubts painted a picture of unemployment and eating ramen for the rest of my life: 

That’s professional suicide!”

How will you ever get hired for a good job?”

You won’t have any skills!” 

You won’t ever be a real nurse!”

I’ve always done things a little differently, so I had no problem doing something out of the box. 

I did very well in my hospital clinicals; in fact, I won an award for clinical excellence at graduation. The thing was, I just didn’t like the hospital, and I wanted to do what felt right. So I chose community health and home health as my goal, and I made it happen. 

Nursing Skills Are Relative

Yes, some of my acute care nursing skills got a little rusty. But in my work in community health, hospice, and home health, I practiced nursing that felt true for me. Serving vulnerable populations in a poor urban community brought me joy and satisfaction

In home health, I provided infusion care; post-surgical wound care; and central, mid, and peripheral line maintenance. Home health has become high-tech, so I had plenty of chances to do complex clinical care, just not in the hospital with multiple patients at the same time. 

In hospice, I cared for the dying, managed their symptoms, counseled their families, and attended their deaths. I even signed a few death certificates along the way. 

If I was thrown onto a med/surg unit today, I’d honestly need some precepting. I also know that my experience and knowledge would kick in and I’d be fine after a while. I don’t worry about my lack of particular skills; I celebrate the skills and expertise that I have. 

New Grads and Open Minds

We’re currently seeing that it’s difficult for every new grad to find a hospital job. Nursing salaries are high in many cities and regions of the United States, but competition is tough. 

When a new grad can’t find a hospital position, it’s not time to panic. While a med/surg job might be preferred, the stark reality is that it just may not be possible. 

With a hospital job out of reach, the new grad needs to network and reach beyond the hospital. Some potential career paths include: 

  • Dialysis
  • Ambulatory surgery
  • Home health
  • Public health
  • Corporate health
  • Correctional nursing
  • Hospice
  • Private physician practices
  • Community health centers 
  • Rural clinics
  • School nursing
  • Women’s health
  • Outpatient cancer care
  • Indian Health Service facilities
  • Infusion nursing
  • Case management
  • Insurance nursing
  • Psychiatric nursing
  • Nurse entrepreneurship

When The Hospital Doesn't Call

Keep an open mind about what you’ll do when you graduate. You may feel shut out from hospital jobs, or you may feel like the hospital isn’t for you. 

The world is your nursing oyster, so you can approach the journey with curiosity, professionalism, trust, an open mind, and a sense of adventure. 

Nurses, if the hospital doesn’t call your name, another type of nursing practice will. You can count on it.

Where Are The Best Nursing Jobs?

High-paying nursing opportunities abound. As a skilled nurse, you are in control of your career. Check out the best jobs from coast to coast on our job board. Get the pay and career path you deserve. Click here to see over 24,000 open nursing positions now. 

Next Up:  Highest Paying States For Registered Nurses 

Keith Carlson, BSN, RN, NC-BC is a Board-Certified Nurse Coach, award-winning blogger, nurse podcaster, speaker, and author. Based in Sante Fe, New Mexico, Nurse Keith’s work has appeared in a variety of online and print publications.

Keith Carlson
Keith Carlson


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