How should I find work as a nurse aide/assistant in New York?
July 27, 2009 12:10 PM   Subscribe

How should I find work as a nurse aide/assistant in New York?

I was recently certified by the state of New York to work as a nurse aide. Now I'm trying to find a job as one, specifically in NYC. Since I haven't done it before, I'm not sure how to proceed. I've applied to hospitals with openings listed online, but so far there's been no response. Would I have better luck at nursing homes? Doing home care? Should I try connecting with any employment agencies? How do I get started at this when I don't have any relevant experience?
posted by learn to read to Work & Money (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
There may be other ways to do it, but you will have troubling missing if you start by volunteering. Go into a hospital you want to work at, and apply for a volunteer position in a department that interests you. Hospitals recruit from their volunteers a lot.
posted by 517 at 12:40 PM on July 27, 2009

Definitely try nursing homes. They are the ones with the highest turnover rates for nurse's aides. My daughter is an aide in a nursing home (albeit in Kansas) and they are always shorthanded. As long as you're certified, it won't matter that you don't have experience. Everybody has to start somewhere, and you'll gain valuable experience on the job (and a lot of larger employers will even offer financial incentives to further your education and training). Good luck to you!
posted by amyms at 12:58 PM on July 27, 2009

My mom used to work as a nurse's assistant at a nursing home in Park Slope. I believe she got the job through her school. MeMail if you want the contact information. There are a lot of 'em in NYC. There are 3 within a 3 block radius in my neighborhood. And, yes, you should try a search for it under NYC Craigslist jobs, which might possibly lead you to employment agencies that are actually hiring for these positions.

The other thing is that a lot of times under gigs (on CL), I've seen people looking for live-in and live-out help with a minimum of nurse's assistant/aide certification. So, if you are able to get a nursing home position, you can also have a side job (and maybe a place to live).
posted by alice ayres at 1:30 PM on July 27, 2009

When I trained as a CNA (with the Red Cross in California), the nurses and staff who trained me told us quite emphatically NOT to volunteer - if you'll work for free they have no reason to pay you. Most healthcare institutions are profit making companies, and nursing assistant is a low-pay high-turnover position to begin with - really, they just hire who they want working there, and get rid of anyone who doesn't work out well.

Don't bother with the internet - most places just don't bother putting high-turnover entry level jobs online, the things they care about like punctuality and neatness don't come over in an online application, and many people who work as CNA's don't have computer skills or internet access, so that's just not how the job market works.

Here's what you need to do: Put on your scrubs and make sure you're looking super neat and ready to work, make a resume that describes the areas you've had training and experience in, and physically go to the places you're hoping to work (you can also call, but showing up so they can see you is better). Ask politely for whoever hires CNA's (it will vary from place to place), introduce yourself, ask if they're hiring etc, if they're not, ask them how they find staff when they do hire and see if they'll put you on a list. A recommendation from someone who works there already can also count for a lot with a hospital job, current staff are sometimes asked if they know anyone looking for a job, and they may just be able to ask their supervisor if there are openings. I have known people looking to work at specific hospitals who have hung out in a fast food place nearby to strike up conversation with people in scrubs!

You will have the easiest time with nursing homes, they are hiring all the time. Problem is, nursing homes are generally terrible places to work, solely profit driven companies that try to skirt the few regulations they're subject to. People call them "the sweat shops of the healthcare industry"! Caring for the elderly is an important job, but few CNA's feel like they get to do all they'd like for the people in their care in nursing homes, and working conditions tend to be very bad - injuries are really common. Most CNA's either want to move into homecare, where they can really pay attention to clients one-on-one, or they want to work in hospitals, which are much more likely to be unionized than nursing homes (especially in NY and CA), and therefore safer, more secure, and much better paid (a union hospital might pay CNA's TWICE what a non-union nursing home does, and provide benefits too).

Here's the thing though, in California at least (I suspect New York is similar) hospitals rarely hire CNA's without hospital experience. They tell you they want you to work in long-term care for a year, but then they'll tell you that they don't want you because all your experience is all in long-term care! What they're specifically concerned about are IV and catheter skills (caring for, not inserting), so if there's any way you can gain some experience with those things (IV's are rare but not unseen in nursing homes and homecare) it will be a big advantage. The only real way to get around the hospital catch 22 is just to keep showing up and be super confident are sure of yourself. While I'd never suggest it, many experienced people say it's ok for CNA's to stretch their skills a little, as hospitals won't put you out on the floors without training and then serious supervision, and tend to assume low level staff are slow learners and unmotivated (ie if you're smart and capable you can likely way exceed their expectations).

I can't speak to homecare in NY, but in CA (at least before the new state "budget") it pays about the same as nursing homes, but is generally a much more pleasant and fulfilling environment, you can take on as many or as few clients as you want, work independently or through an agency, but may have to drive a lot. In CA you need to take an additional short training to work in homecare, and pass another state test, but I don't know how the system works in NY.

Agencies are definitely another way to go, and will place you in a variety of environments, possibly helpful for getting to know where you might want to work. Some can give you homecare clients too. Most hospitals keep a roster of per diem staff who fill their staffing needs though, so they won't use an agency. Other problems are the usual alienation and vulnerability of not being a real staff member, the agency taking a hefty cut of your pay, and the lack of benefits.

Sorry this is so long, I hope it helps. I'm a former union organizer and representative for hospital, nursing home, and homecare CNA's in several states, who recently trained as a CNA myself in California (although I'm doing other stuff right now). Feel free to mail me with any questions. Good luck!
posted by crabintheocean at 1:46 PM on July 27, 2009 [1 favorite]

Just read your previous question, and want to add that some union hospitals (that probably means a lot of places in NYC) will pay a lot towards training for their staff, and many hospital workers use these programs to move from CNA to RN. While you often have to commit to working there for a few years, for many people it's really useful, not just a BS carrot that never happens! I don't know about NY, but in California I know of several hospitals that essentially pay for the entire thing! I have never heard of a nursing home doing this, so if you're still interested in RN, you may want to focus harder on hospitals and do some research into the training support they provide.
posted by crabintheocean at 1:54 PM on July 27, 2009

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