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:
- Ambulatory surgery
- Home health
- Public health
- Corporate health
- Correctional nursing
- 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.
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.