Updated: Mar 12, 2021
Nothing that gives me more anxiety than not knowing what comes next.
Considering our current global situation *cough-pandemic-cough*, you'd think finding a nursing job would be easier than plucking a blade of grass from the lawn, right? Maybe in your neck of the woods. Unfortunately, there has been an external hiring freeze for (give or take) the last 6 years in my area. And what's even worse is that the relationship between our provincial government & the health care system is about as good as Lady Diana's & Prince Charles.
Don't get me wrong, there are jobs there! Long-term care is always looking for nurses. Home-care is kind of a hit or miss when it comes to hiring new grads. Specialty clinics are always an option.
Personally, though, acute care (specifically surgical) is where my heart really lit up. I love the acuity - the diversity in patients & conditions. There are so many hands-on skills & new orders constantly. Weirdly enough, I love pharm. Understanding the effects, interactions, & considerations of such a wide variety makes me outright giddy.
Preceptorship (professional practice placement) is where many fresh/upcoming grads actually get their first job, making sense when you think about it. You & a staff nurse work full time for however many weeks, learning the policies & procedures, getting to know the staff, & basically going through the orientation. So if the unit manager is pleased, you might be lucky enough to secure a conditional offer upon program completion.
But what about if your unit isn't hiring? Or if your professional practice placement isn't really where you want to be post-grad? Well - now it's time to start the job hunt. You learn pretty quickly that finding a nursing job is much different than any previous job searches in retail, customer service, food service - all that.
In my case, the complications from COVID-19 severely limited preceptorship options. About 2 weeks before the end of my last acute care clinical, we got our preceptorship placements & I found myself in long-term care. Critical care has been where my evaluations excel, my skills are best suited, & my biggest passion is. Unit staff encouraged me to push for a change & I am incredibly grateful for having an instructor who tried to advocate for me - but there just wasn't space. Just getting a professional practice spot at all was something to be satisfied with.
➤ Side-note: I'm a couple of weeks into my preceptorship now. Surgical is still where I feel best utilized, but there are always things to learn wherever you go. Not to mention that my preceptor is an absolute rockstar!! She inspires me daily with her compassion, knowledge, ability to teach, & unwavering support. Though this nursing field wasn't my top choice, I'm sure I won the preceptor lottery.
I realized that there was no changing my placement. I wouldn't have the opportunity to get into my ideal position through one of those 'golden ticket' conditional offers right out of preceptorship. SO. I started asking questions to anyone & everyone - every primary nurse I worked with, the unit manager, & my instructor. Basically, I bugged anyone who would give me the time of day.
Here's what I learned
As a student
➖ Take full advantage of the wealth of information surrounding you - ask a million questions & seek out learning opportunities.
➖ Build relationships with all the staff.
✻ These would be your peers if you get hired
✻ Healthcare is dependant on quality teamwork
✻ Connect with the nurses, unit clerks, HCAs, nutrition staff, custodial staff, doctors, techs - & everyone in between they all play an essential role & deserve respect & appreciation.
➖ Familiarize yourself with facility policies, procedures, conditions, patient population, additional certifications, & values.
✻ Look up policies for ✻
Code Blue & Code 66
MI & CVA
➖ Utilize the facility database
✻ Get info on who does hiring & where
➖ Pick the brain of staff nurses
✻ How they got hired
✻ Their suggestions for finding a job
✻ Recommendations for where to look
➖ Find a mentor - someone you really connect with & look up to as a nurse.
✻ The person who embodies the qualities you hope to have in your career
✻ Doesn't mind answering your questions
✻ Helps you find opportunities to practice skills
✻ Provides additional insight
✻ Offers advice for post-grad
✻ Gives you feedback on improving
➤ Give them your # before finishing at the unit
➤ Don't take it personally if they dont reach - some places have policies that limit contact staff with students.
➖ Set up a quick meeting with the unit manager
✻ What do they look for in their team
✻ What makes an application stand out?
✻ Dropping off a physical resume, yay or neigh?
✻ Additional certifications they require or recommend?