What to do After You Graduate Nursing School

Things to Know After Nursing School

Life, after you graduate nursing school, seems a bit overwhelming but with proper guidance and helpful tips, you can manage it too. Where do you want to work? What are the key takeaways from nursing school? What do you need before you step into the unit? It can be tricky to find the right opportunity. To ensure you are happy with your first decision, take your time and explore the market to learn about the types of opportunities that will be best for your career goals.

Understanding Different Opportunities

Finding a hospital to work in after you graduate nursing school, is often the main goal of many nursing graduates to start their careers. A common misconception for new graduates is that hospitals are the only options available to them. 

Healthcare settings can include:

  • Home care
  • Long term care
  • Clinics

Other career opportunities (non-bedside): Legal Nurse Consultant, Hospice Nurse, Public Health Nurse, Occupational Nurse, Dialysis Nurse, Nurse Educator 

Research the facility you will be applying for to learn more about the role you’re applying for. Answer the following questions:

  • What are the facility’s mission, vision, and values? 
  • Do you know what is the facility’s designation? 
  • What population do they serve? 
  • Do you know if they have been awarded or recognized?

Different Units – What Unit Do You Want to Work On?

  1. How would you describe yourself? 
    1. Lead the team?
    2. Do you love to collab?
    3. Do you work best alone?
  2. What does your ideal workday look like? 
    1. Consistent, likes to plan ahead?
    2. Something new every day to keep you on your toes?
    3. A mix of this and that?
  3. Who is your ideal patient?
    1. Elderly, acutely ill, new mom and infant, children?
  4. When it comes to patients, the best way you can help is?
    1. By training and educating other nurses
    2. Face-to-face interactions

When you land your first job after you graduate nursing school, it might be your ideal unit. You can use this opportunity as a stepping stone to advance internally up the specialty ladder. For example, starting in Med/Surg then working up to PCCU and then ICU. Other managers and supervisors can notice you and help you cross-train to their unit. 

Utilizing your Network and Resources 

Since you can’t rely on years of professional experience to land your new gig, using your network to get your foot in the door is your next best option. After you graduate nursing school, many nursing schools have a network as well to help with different employment available for you before making the decision on your first job. While doing clinical rotations you can also inquire about opportunities. 

Build your support network early on, as they can offer advice, guidance, and job leads. You can start by getting all your classmate’s and professors’ email addresses. 

Job fairs are another great way to look for opportunities. At a nursing job fair, you can meet with dozens of prospective employers in a single day, instead of sending out stacks of resumes and waiting weeks for a response

If you’re unfamiliar with which facilities are hiring you can consider major job boards such as Indeed, Linkedin, and Simply Hired. 

Tips on using jobs board effectively:

  • Make sure your Linkedin profile and resume are congruent. 
    • Adding new responsibilities and new volunteer opportunities you’ve taken
  • Be attentive to the language you’re using in your profile resume
    • Mirror the language of job listings that interest you in your profile and resume/
  • Don’t be afraid to reach out directly
    • Most job boards won’t list direct information to employers but that doesn’t mean you can’t reach out with a follow-up email about your application. The human connection can be the deciding factor.

Clean Up your Social Media Account

  • Have appropriate profile photos on all accounts
  • Edit the biographies, headings, and descriptions to reflect a professional manner.
  • Run a google search on your first and last name. Make sure all photos are appropriate. 
  • Change your privacy settings to private if you do not want potential employers to view your social media profiles and photos. 

Preparing for Your Interviews

The purpose of the interview is to determine if they like you and whether you’re a good fit for their team. Nursing is a team effort. They also want to see if you’re as good as you seem on paper and can help them reach their goals as an organization.

Tip: Treat the interview like a conversation where both candidate and employer have a shared goal of getting to know each other. 

You’ll be spending a lot of time at work, so make sure your core values align and it’s an enjoyable work environment – not just tolerable. 

Prescreen phone interview for nurses – Usually the first step of the hiring process. The goal is to reduce the number of candidates and invite the best-fitting candidates for the next step. 

They’ll ask basic qualifying questions about:

  • Education
  • Employment status
  • Clinical experience
  • Goals

Tip: Know your availability, as the goal is to invite you for an in-person interview. Also, ask about the next steps, don’t get off the phone and wonder what’s next? 

The Interview 

This will be your first opportunity to meet the hiring manager or the unit. Ultimately, they are determining if they personally like you. No one wants to work with a negative nancy. This includes a number of things:

  • How they feel about you
  • How you’ll fit within their unit
  • Your level of enthusiasm
  • How your strengths can help them reach their goals

During this time or maybe for the next interview you will undergo a panel/peer interview which will include multiple people, usually from the unit to help the hiring manager pick the best candidate. Our advice is to maintain good eye contact with everyone, engage in conversation with the entire group, share your personal stories, and smile. 

Before the interview make sure you understand yourself. Your strengths and weaknesses, the experiences you’ve had in clinical settings. 

  1. What is your 5-year goal? 
  2. Teamwork: Talk about a conflict within your healthcare team. What was the conflict and how did you handle it?
  3. Patient care: Tell me about a time when a patient’s family was dissatisfied with your care. How did you handle that situation? 
  4. Time management: Talk about a time you worked in a fast-paced setting. How do you prioritize tasks while maintaining excellent patient care?

Tip: Be a storyteller. Storytelling is powerful and memorable. Most importantly, it provides evidence to support the assertions made in your resume. It gives the employer a glimpse at the type of nurse and human being you are.

What to Buy Before You Enter the Unit

  • Click pens
  • Penlight 
  • Nursing scissors
  • Good scrubs
  • Right shoes
  • Stethoscope

Giving End of Shift Report

An end-of-shift report is a detailed report of your patients and their overall care and medical status. End of shift reports includes medical history, recent procedures, lab values, medications, head-to-toe assessment, pain management, and plan of care. 

Episode 115: Goes in-depth about the end of shift duties and gives report

After you accept your position, remember that getting off orientation is not a race

If you are hired with other new graduates, it is common to look at them and feel like you are competing in the race of who can be the best new grad nurse. Who can take care of higher acuities quicker? Who will be let off orientation earlier? Your work culture can bolster this, especially if your manager starts making comments that make you feel like you’re behind. 

Tip: You must focus on your journey and fill in the gaps you need. It’s not about winning a race. 

Don’t forget about self-care days

Treat yourself, take yourself out, get massages, buy yourself something nice. Get those feel-good endorphins pumping. The Self-care culture is at an all-time high with talks about the pandemic and burnout.

 

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