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New Grad Nurse Skipped the Hospital

3 Min Read Published April 20, 2017
New Grad Nurse Skipped the Hospital

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 the 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 , 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.

Next Up:  The 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.

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