Wowing a nurse manager
December 29, 2011 12:38 PM   Subscribe

About to enter my final semester in nursing school. Despite the shortage etc, there are very few jobs for new grads at the moment, particularly where I live. What specific behaviors will help me impress the staff at my final clinical site enough that they'll consider hiring me after I graduate?

Would love advice from RNs in particular but any general advice from folks who deal with interns or whatnot would be great.
posted by latkes to Work & Money (6 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: *Learn your unit as quickly as you can--the processes for each complex task, including the normal work arounds (for example, how and when the charge RN starts building the next shift; how to get pharmacy to send up changed orders quickly; what kinds of reports different residents require; how the unit does two RN sign offs for things like narcotic wastes or TPN). Don't wait to learn, ask and learn it fast.
*Jump in and request to assist in the more hated parts of those processes. Does dietary always need an actual call to change orders? Make it. Will someone on your unit need a new TPN or blood set in the next hour? Fetch it from supply and tell the RN you put it in the room for them. Has someone missed lunch? Offer to do their patient care so they can take it.
*Understand what your unit clerk does, and if there is something you can do to make their flow easier--like interpret a patient call-out or answer a family's question or request--do it.
*Arrive for every shift ready to think and perform tasks critically. Ask critical thinking questions versus questions that that can easily be interpreted as passive aggressive feedback (eg 'why do you guys always do it that way? In nursing school . . . ). If you need to practice skills, do it in the lab and be ready--when your preceptor asks you if you think you're ready to drop an NG (or whatever) your answer should be 'awesome!' not 'maybe I could watch you do one more?'
*Don't complain, gossip, criticize, or fraternize--they want to feel like you'll be a part of the BEST parts of their unit, not the petty parts. At the end of the day, it's the Nurse Manager who makes the hire call and she'll need to feel confident supporting you to administration, not the unit gossip.
*Volunteer and ask for opportunities. Does the IV team visit your unit a lot? Ask to shadow them for a shift. Ask to accompany charge RN to an all units census meeting. If your unit is highly specialized (post cath unit, for example), make sure you've observed the procedure and asked that surgical group what part of the nursing care they prioritize.
*Talk your preceptor up to the Nursing Manager, other RNs up to each other all while you're getting their back task-wise.
*Do everything according to procedure, not according to the unit's shortcuts--they may roll their eyes a bit, but they know you're a student and will respect you for it.
*At midterm, let your preceptor and the Nurse Manager know you want a job on that unit or any other unit they feel you'd be a good fit for. Ask them to help you achieve that goal. Many times, just putting it in their heads that you want to be there makes the decision easy for them--this is ever so true in healthcare because these people don't have time for administrative tasks lime hiring. Do good work and make the decision for them.

I've been on both sides of this one, so feel free to contact me, as well. Good luck!
posted by rumposinc at 1:36 PM on December 29, 2011 [7 favorites]

edit--"admin tasks like hiring." I also teach nursing undergrads, so something else to think of is making sure your instructor knows your goal and has the opportunity to talk a bit with your preceptor when they're on the unit. If I know one of my good students want to work there, I'll spend extra time learning what I can pass on to the student to meet that goal. Basically, get everyone on the same page and make it a no-brainer for everyone.
posted by rumposinc at 1:45 PM on December 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

Well to get hired I'd say be super great during clinicals so you can maybe get in through your clinical instructor. Don't discount long term care it's not glamorous but you learn a lot. Be willing to get hired PRN and then when you are great, they'll take you on full time. New grads get shafted for sure but once you have that year experience it gets better. One thing that happened for me was that I was part of a program for a huge managed care company that wanted to hire new grads and do a lot of training but payed at lpn-ish levels. I ended up going into hospice but being flexible and creative is helpful. Oh and be willing and happy! To work crappy shifts (it gets better I swear!)
posted by yodelingisfun at 2:12 PM on December 29, 2011 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Wow, rumposinc is just killing it. Two things I can add/emphasize are:
- Work on your time management - juggling your interventions among your pt load. It's especially hard to do because most preceptors have a difficult time keeping their hands off when you start sweating for time. Let your preceptor know this is something you need to work on and you don't mind struggling a little bit in the meantime.
- Don't sit unless every one sits first. Keep your eyes out for anyone doing anything - and lend a hand.
- rumposinc's thing about ward clerks is a pearl. Those people can make a good day bad or a bad day good. Treat them well.
posted by klarck at 3:01 PM on December 29, 2011 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Do you have to do any kind of capstone project or process improvement project or something on your clinical unit? I had to do one in my final semester during my internship, and that effort was what impressed the nurse manager enough to hire me. I went to her early in my semester to see what priorities she had, and to ask if there was anything I could do that would actually be useful to the unit. I didn't want to go in there telling the experienced nurses how to do something "better," even though that was sort of the expectation of my school instructors for the project. Talking to the manager helped me find a subject that she thought needed improvement on the unit, so it could actually be useful without me seeming like some newbie know-it-all. I went all-out on the project, and she was really impressed.

Definitely make sure you get in to meet the manager on your unit -- often they are busy and not very present out on the floor, so get your preceptor to introduce you during one of your first few shifts, and then try to get some facetime with that manager again once or twice during your semester. They might be the right person to contact to ask about whether you can shadow the IV team or observe in surgery or something else that interests you, and asking shows your interest in the profession and keeps you on the manager's radar.

It would also be good to get the manager's contact info so you can email (reasonable) questions. I found it helpful to email the manager on my unit to ask, basically, what you've asked here: times are tough for new grads; as a hiring manager what would you suggest I do to make me a more attractive new-hire candidate when I graduate? She had some great advice that was relevant to my job search within that facility and at others, and I think it got her in the mindset of thinking of me as someone who could be hired. Then, when I was maybe 6 weeks from graduation, I knew her well enough to feel comfortable asking whether she was expecting to have any openings coming up, or if she knew any other units that might be hiring.

Good luck!
posted by vytae at 3:04 PM on December 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Wow, these are such helpful, practical answers. Thank you! May check back in as the semester progresses.
posted by latkes at 3:54 PM on December 29, 2011

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