Nursing shortage HA HA HA
September 26, 2012 2:31 PM   Subscribe

Help a nurse find a job, please?

You all gave me some great advice when I was in nursing school, but economics being what they are, my unit was not hiring new grads. Turns out no units in the greater SF Bay Area (where I live) are hiring new grads, and everyone requires 1 year of acute care experience.

What I've tried so far:

- Applied for literally hundreds of jobs online at hospitals within a 100 mile radius of my home.
- Applied to all the prisons within a 100 miles or so of my home.
- Physically gone to several hospitals and brought resumes in person to nurse managers on Med Surg floors and the ER.
- Had an "informational interview" with a nurse manager to get ideas (she told me to move to the South).
- Physically brought resumes to every Skilled Nursing Facility I can find in my city.
- Applied for clinic jobs as they come up on craigslist.

I am trying to avoid moving, mostly because I'm a single parent and I don't want to uproot my kid, and even if I did, I'd have no one to babysit her in a strange city while I was working nights. But I am considering it, so if you happen to live somewhere that is experiencing the legendary nursing shortage, do let me know!

I have a per diem gig doing flu shots, but that's all I've managed to get.

Do you have any suggestions for things I can try doing? A type of nursing I haven't thought of? A certification I could get that would make me look good despite being a new grad? Anything?

Thanks so much.
posted by latkes to Work & Money (16 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Everyone says it's cyclical in nursing, but I fear our economy just getting worse and worse and no one ever finding work again!
posted by latkes at 2:32 PM on September 26, 2012

I know that every Kaiser hospital here in northern Cal is on a hiring freeze right now, so hiring is literally nonexistent.

One of my co-workers is a pharmacy technician, despite graduating nursing school 2 yrs ago, has continued working as a pharmacy tech because of the freeze. What she did was get a part-time RN job for a cosmetic dermatologist (i.e., Botox and other out-of-pocket procedures). Maybe you could do something similar, I know it's not hospital work, but it is RN work.

Can you afford to continue on with your education and become a Nurse Practitioner in the meantime? It's clear that with the new healthcare laws there will be demand for a lot more NP's instead of MD's to meet the demands of all the newly-covered patients. If I weren't already a pharmacist, I'd become an NP.
posted by Pocahontas at 2:53 PM on September 26, 2012 [2 favorites]

Some ideas:

How about places that do clinical testing and trials? Sometimes they need nurses, especially if you have your phlebotomy certification.

What about city and county health departments? Here's one in Contra Costa County, just as an example.

Have you tried specialty clinics like dialysis centers?
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 2:59 PM on September 26, 2012

What Pocahontas says about NPs is probably a realllly good point. I'm a doctor, not a nurse, but from what I can see there are jobs in other areas, just not in yours. I know about 3 other nurses who just got new jobs in the past few months, but not in my home area which is also a desirable place to live. I moved away from the midwest this summer and they were definitely hiring there.

Just FYI if you are looking to work in the ER, you really need some experience there. It's kind of difficult because no job = no experience = no job. So what I've heard is that people need to do other work, like work as a tech or as an EMT, and then they get some experience in the ED that way and that gives them an 'in' to get hired at the location where they work if they do a good job, too. Or maybe try urgent cares, there a tons of freestanding urgent cares springing up (i.e. Minute Clinic, the ones in the big grocery stores, and others affiliated with big healthcare systems) that would probably be a stepping stone as well.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 3:03 PM on September 26, 2012

Don't forget VNA/Hospice please. You put the "N" in VNA, you know, and they are always looking for nurses, both in critical care and visiting programs.
posted by halfbuckaroo at 3:37 PM on September 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

My fiance is an ER doc in a hospital in Anchorage, Alaska. They are always, always, always, hiring per diem and travel nurses in the ER and in the rest of the hospital, too. I am pretty sure that the same is true for just about any other hospital in Alaska. They are sometimes desperate enough to hire people straight out of school...the ER job listings up at the Mat-Su Valley hospital even specify that they will consider new grads. Pay is good and Anchorage is *almost* a real city. Just a thought, if you could handle a (really, really big) move. Me-mail me and I'll send you links to job listings in the area if you're entertaining the idea.
posted by charmedimsure at 4:06 PM on September 26, 2012 [2 favorites]

When I became a new RN in the 90s and moved to San Francisco and started looking, no shit they told me to move to Fresno and work for at least a year. I was like, no way.

So I worked for a staffing agency as a nurse's aide (they will often hire nursing graduates to work as non-certified aides, you are not a CNA so you can't work skilled nursing, but you can work med-surg). I worked whatever hours were available and kept getting placed at one of the hospitals in the city (because I did well there and the hospital started requesting me). I got to know the scheduler, who appreciated that I was available and hardworking, and eventually she helped me meet the house supervisors and then people knew I was looking. Eventually, I got hired on one of the units I had worked on as a nurse's aide. Truthfully, the process took almost 9 months, but it did happen and I was getting experience and a paycheck in the meantime.

It's easier to find a job if you have a job. The cycle thing is true, but the boom-bust cycles can be long.

Also, if any of your classmates have found jobs, stay friendly with them and maybe they can get you an intro to their nurse manager.

If you want to be an NP, then go for it, but I would be cautious about pushing ahead just because jobs are tight. I know plenty of NPs who went direct RN to NP who couldn't find NP jobs because they never had any nursing experience. Caveat emptor.

If you want to know the specific agency I worked for me-mail me, but if you google nursing staffing agencies and the city, you will find plenty.

As an aside, I was a young graduate and had worked as a nurse's aide in nursing school, but not on a med-surg floor. Being an aide in a busy hospital actually gave me totally awesome experience that made me a much more confident nurse when I did finally start. And it helped with my organization skills as well.

Good luck
posted by artdesk at 4:36 PM on September 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

My friend's mom is a nurse and when she graduated with her DNP, she had to work at a free clinic in Philly for a couple of years on an hourly basis. She said the economy was terrible when she graduated from nursing school in the 70s.
posted by discopolo at 5:03 PM on September 26, 2012

I'm not a nurse, but in any job search, it's all about your "network." I realize that's super-annoying advice, but it's true. I'm searching right now, and the only leads I have are because someone I know got me in touch with either the hiring manager or recruiter. If you haven't already beefed up your LinkedIn connections, do that. It's a little scary to reach out to someone you may have not talked to in a while, but that random connection may be able to hook you up with your next job. My fiance got his new job via a guy he hadn't seen since high school.
posted by radioamy at 5:04 PM on September 26, 2012

But she kept at it ---so it really is a cycle. Travel nursing could be a way to keep working.
posted by discopolo at 5:05 PM on September 26, 2012

Also, have you thought about the National Health Corp? I have a friend who is a recent NP grad who got her job in a NorCal town classified as "underserved."
posted by discopolo at 5:08 PM on September 26, 2012

Look into becoming a Paramedic. Its a step down as far as skills go, but a Medic/RN might be more marketable and may also open up different opportunities - but only if you're interested in EMS, I suppose. I'd say trying your local Fire/EMS departments if they're paid professional units like the FDNY but I've never heard of any hiring RNs, just EMTs and Paramedics.
posted by blaneyphoto at 5:11 PM on September 26, 2012

If you are really up for a move (an even bigger one than Alaska), nurses are on the Skilled Occupation List making them eligible for permanent residency here in Australia ...
posted by dg at 8:06 PM on September 26, 2012

OK, there is some good food for thought here. I'll look into some of these and will follow up if anything comes of it!

Thank you!
posted by latkes at 10:35 PM on September 26, 2012

blaneyphoto: Being a paramedic is not a step down in skills. It's a step sideways in a Venn diagram of skills, and it's a change of focus of medicine. Paramedics can intubate and defibrillate; the vast majority of RNs cannot. Nurses get to see a patient on a much longer timescale than a matter of minutes or a few hours in an ambulance transport. However, nurses are much more focused on the general health aspects of their patient. Paramedics are good at stabilizing and moving patients on to the best kind of definitive care for that patient. Paramedics also do not get paid nearly as well as RNs. The awesome RNs who challenge their paramedic exam or prehospital RN tests are wonderful people and I love to work with them. However, they are all also very experienced nurses, because people won't hire you to work prehospital unless you've spent time (typically 3-5 years) on a busy critical care floor. They still defer some things to the medics who did their internship.

latkes: Hospitals like to hire internally. Can you physically bring your resume to floor managers who are hiring techs? Once you're on the payroll for some specified number of weeks, then you can start applying for internal job postings. This may help you circumvent the whole acute care experience thing. And what people said about the whole networking thing is how I've gotten my last three jobs. So start meeting more nurses.
posted by skyl1n3 at 6:11 AM on September 27, 2012 [2 favorites]

Have you looked into working at the VA or other government programs? Check out the Federal Government Jobs Site.

There appear to be a few jobs there, the benefits are outrageous.

There are tricks to getting hired into the government, including a comprehensive resume.

Also check out county health, or city health departments.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:00 AM on September 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

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