5 things I wish someone told me when applying to my first nursing job ~

Thanks for joining me!  This is my story about being a new (or baby) nurse. This blog is being told nearly in real time ( maybe with a six month delay) to inspire and motivate those coming into the field. I know what anxieties and fears you must have if you are just graduating nursing school or starting your first job. The attempt of this blog is to help you not feel alone in the process. In today’s post I am going to talk about how I chose my first job out of nursing school, and how I weighed the pros and cons of every option that I had.

How very little can be done under the spirit of fear – Florence Nightingale 

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I was a nursing student in Philadelphia, and instead of studying for finals I could be found in my bedroom searching for jobs up and down the east coast. I applied to several residency programs from Connecticut all the way down to Georgia. I anxiously would check application sites to see if my status had changed. I cannot count the number of rejections I had received at first . My “full speed ahead” attitude made me want a job immediately after school- this first mistake is what now inspires me to write a list of things to keep in mind when applying to jobs.

1. The speed at which you get hired doesn’t really mean a thing

I do not wish to name the hospital that I work at; however, you can probably guess with the hints that will follow. Initially I would have loved to stay in the Philadelphia area. With names like UPenn and CHOP, it’s the ultimate city to get your start, especially in nursing. However, it took too long for these institutions to get back to me and I was ready to start the rest of my life. Immediately, a prestigious hospital in Atlanta, Georgia had gotten back to me with a job offer in my preferred field of neurology. It was a no-brainer that I take it, but looking back now I wonder what would have happened if I’d taken my time before accepting their offer.

I have many friends who waited a couple months and ended up getting their dream jobs in Philadelphia. One went on to be an OR nurse at UPenn (an impressive feat for a new grad) and another works in a peds ICU at CHOP. This all happened while I had already been working a few months. These people waited for their dream jobs in their dream locations and got it!

It goes to show- patience is a virtue, and sometimes you really can have it all .

2. Money Money Money Moneeeey

Think about your financial situation. I did not do this. I wish I did. I am a person that loves adventure and I cannot be in the same place for too long. However, when one has $60,000 of student debt looming over their head…maybe that adventure should be put on the back burner. Perhaps moving into my own apartment 13 hours away from my hometown wasn’t the greatest idea. Especially when their was an offer to live at home RENT FREE. It may be lame to live with your parents, but your wallet will be pretty tubby if you do. Even if you only live with them a year think of all that money you could save! Currently I’m living almost paycheck to paycheck because I didn’t make that decision.

If a rent free option like this isn’t available, you can still continue to be frugal and make smart decisions about the first job you take. Know that a beginning salary of $25/hr isn’t competitive, especially in a metropolitan area . Many well named hospitals will do this just because you are getting the right to put their name on your resume, and it looks good.

Also trust me on this – when you are sitting at home calculating how much you will have in bills, you are probably underestimating the amount of money that will be crudely taken away from your bank account. I usually pay $500 in taxes a pay check. I also have to pay rent, a car payment, car insurance payment, electricity, gas . The whole enchilada.

So keep in mind- a hospital name isn’t everything. Being able to afford a healthy and fun life is significantly more important in my opinion. I have a friend who works at a less than reputable hospital but gets paid $44/hr his first job in Pennsylvania- his snapchats tell me that he is having a very fun time in life right now.

3. Do what you want to do and do not settle

You want to be in labor and delivery? Then ONLY apply to those jobs. It will take two seconds for you to get burnt out in a job that you have no passion for. I wanted my nursing practice to be focused on neuro, so I accepted a job on a neurovascular floor. Sometimes we get patients who are just vascular, which is okay with me; however, I know if that was the only demographic I saw I wouldn’t feel fulfilled. Vascular just was never something that by itself interested me.

If you don’t know what you want to do then take every experience as a learning experience. It’s okay not to know! But if you do know don’t settle for a job that doesn’t offer you the experience you crave.

4. If you’re close to your friends and family maybe limit the distance you go

I may have jumped the gun when applying to jobs. I literally accepted the job that was furthest away from home, and occasionally I find myself really missing my friends and family. I look back now and almost wish I went somewhere a little bit closer to home so I would at least have the option to see my friends and family.

I’m for sure making new friends here and enjoying my time, but this is definitely something to think about if you are like me and are putting in applications at every hospital in the United States.

5. Make a Pros and Cons list

At the end of the day- this is all advice based on my experience and the experiences my friends have gone through. What is important to you? Do you need that fancy hospital name on your resume? Is money more important to you? Can you live at home?

Take time at home at write out a list of what is important to you. If you are already getting offers from hospitals factor in the pros and cons that matter to you. Nothing is better than a logical list to help you make this decision. In addition, when you tour these hospitals for the first time, ask yourself if you can see you working there.

That’s the end of my list. Is there anything you wish you were told when applying to your first job? If so leave a comment! I want this to be a safe space for new nurses and students, there’s no such thing as bad advice here! 🙂