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The 2017 Job Outlook for New Grad Nurses

Nursing students graduating in 2017 are facing a market with plenty of new grad nursing jobs, with exciting chances to shape their practice and the profession. 

And a few timely tips for new grad nurses can help them take full advantage.

How Healthy is the New Grad Nursing Job Market?

“There are lots of positions out there,” said Meredith Wallace Kazer PhD, APRN, FAAN, dean and professor at Fairfield University in Connecticut, who reports 100 percent of the university’s new grad nurses find jobs. 

“The opportunities for nurses to really make a difference, to be front and center on leadership teams making decisions in health care these days, are better than they’ve ever been.”

Nadine Aktan, PhD, FNP, chair of the William Paterson University nursing department in Wayne, New Jersey, and Laura Author, director of career services at Johns Hopkins School of Nursing in Baltimore, also report their graduates are having no difficulty finding jobs. 

“It’s a strong market for nursing grads,” Author said. 

Many nursing students from Pace University receive job offers before they graduate, said Gerrie Colombraro, PhD, RN, associate dean for administration at the Pace’s College of Health Professions in Pleasantville, New York.

Yet the availability of new grad nursing jobs varies in different parts of the country, cautioned Timothy Gaspar, nursing dean at Cleveland State University in Ohio, adding that his graduates are finding jobs.

Why the Recent Improvement for New Graduate Nurses?

New grad nursing jobs are becoming plentiful, as baby boomer nurses retire at a record rate from the workforce.

Fifty-five percent of the RN workforce is age 50 or older, reported Janet Mahoney, PhD, RN, APN-C, NEA-BC, dean of the Marjorie K. Unterberg School of Nursing and Health Studies at Monmouth University in West Long Branch, New Jersey. 

Additionally, the aging population will need more nurses to care for patients’ complex and chronic health problems. 

“Baby boomers are going to be a significant consumer of health care,” Gaspar said

While the hiring trend for new grad nursing jobs is toward BSN degrees, associate degree nurses also are finding jobs with the expectation the nurse will continue with schooling, said Mark Meyer, PhD, APRN, FNP-BC, dean of nursing at Brookhaven College in Farmers Branch, Texas.

“The job outlook for nurses is still strong, especially in Texas,” said Juanita Flita, also at Brookhaven.

10 Career Tips For New Grad Nurses And Nursing Students

 1. Plan Ahead. 

During their junior year, nursing students should determine where they might like to work and apply for a summer internship at that facility, Kazer said, or complete the senior capstone project at a desired hospital. 

That way, the student and employer have a chance to check each other out.

2. Work While Going to School.

Student nurses who work at a hospital or other facility also have an opportunity to find out if an organization might be a good fit. 

After graduation, most new nurses will apply and be hired at that facility if it has been a good experience, Aktan said.

3. Have a Clear Focus. 

Know what city or area of the country you want to work in, or a unit preference, but keep an open mind, Arthur advised. 

After a few months of experience, new grad nurses can also apply for travel nursing jobs at their choice of locations across the country.

4. Be a Go-Getter. 

Whether working a clinical rotation or your first nursing job, go the extra mile for patients, and do your best to help out fellow nurses, patient care technicians and others. 

These extra efforts will help get you noticed by hiring managers, Meyer suggested. 

5. Take Advantage of Your School’s Career Planning Services. 

Experts at the career planning centers can help with resumes, interviewing skills and other tips for new grad nurses. Author encourages students to meet with career planners early, to maximize opportunities for individualized coaching. 

Fairfield has a program in which new grad RNs can shadow an alumnus, who introduces them to healthcare professionals who can provide career assistance.

6. Consider Residencies.

Nurse residency programs can give new nurses a strong start and a good experience, Kazer said. They also can reduce turnover of new grad nurses, Gaspar said. 

Author cautioned that some programs accept nursing residents six months before graduation, so it’s important to start your search early. 

Additionally, hospitals offering a residency program expect a commitment to stay for two or three years, limiting your ability to travel or move around for a set period.

7. Nail the Nursing Resume.

List all relevant experience, including simulation experience, on your nursing resume. This gives a new grad RN a competitive advantage with employers, Colombraro said. 

Proofreading your resume for spelling and grammar is another simple but vital step, Mahoney reminded.

8. Do Your Research.

Know what services hospitals provide before interviewing so you can provide the most relevant answers and ask some questions of your own, Mahoney added. 

9. Be Flexible. 

One of Meyer’s top tips for new grad nurses: be flexible. It’s sometimes necessary to start as a night shift nurse or on a medical/surgical floor to gain some experience before transferring to a premium position, such as critical care, 

Realize that all nursing jobs are not in hospitals, either. 

Although more than half of Cleveland State’s graduates go to work in an acute-care system, many work in-home care, rehabilitation, long-term care or ambulatory clinics. 

Nursing job trends reflect the fact that more care is moving to the outpatient setting.

10. Make Every Interaction Count. 

New grad RNs who demonstrate a passion for nursing and the unit they are working on will stand out, Author commented. 

Every person you meet may not be in a position to hire, but that person may have sound advice to share or have connections with someone who can assist with your job search.

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