By Jessica Gordon, MSN, RN, CHSE
Graduating from nursing school is an exciting time in a nurse’s career. Choosing the next step to begin nursing practice can be a daunting and challenging experience. It is a common belief that hospital based nursing is the only route for practice for newly graduated and newly licensed registered nurses (RN’s) (Spector, Blegen, Silvestri, Barnsteiner, Lynn, & Ulrich, 2015).
However, hospital/medical/surgical nursing is not the only option; there are many other opportunities for new graduates to grow and learn in the nursing arena. Additionally, those that are not newly licensed but have chosen to graduate with degree enhancements (RN to BSN, MSN, etc.), have many open doors to opportunities in the community for health care, from community health nursing; public health nursing; nursing home practice; assisted living care; and more.
Many of these nursing employment opportunities are available for new graduates with little to no experience in the field. On the job training and certification courses are available to help mold new graduates into the type of practice employers are looking for in regards to the specific nursing environment (Spector, et.al, 2015). There are a number of activities a new graduate from any degree level can do in order to increase their community participation and knowledge about available opportunities, including researching state legislature that peaks interest and contacting the supporting organizations for opportunities; contacting local nursing programs for nurse intern opportunities or simulation technician employment availability; and reviewing state, city, and hospital websites for potential activities that help introduce the new graduate to the specialty practice he/she is interested in the community.
It is important for new graduates to look at all available opportunities and not feel pigeonholed into entering into hospital/medical/surgical bedside work. First, some graduates may not be interested in direct bedside care. Second, a number of nurses are returning to work after a long absence or career change due to the economic climate, which sometimes can limit the physical abilities of the practitioner, or the availability due to the long hours and strict scheduling of the hospital environment (Feeg & Mancino, 2015).
Finally, for those that are second degree nursing graduates, it might be intriguing to utilize their previous knowledge to enhance their nursing careers. When searching for employment opportunities, it is important to harness the already present strengths from previous experience along with the knowledge gained from nursing education. Additionally, highlighting previous leadership, autonomy, and awards received during previous work experiences or in nursing school on one’s resume and curriculum vitae will help the employer envision the growth opportunities for the new graduate.
The nursing degree, whether it is an associate’s degree in nursing or bachelor’s degree in nursing introduces the graduate to the concepts of critical thinking, leadership, and safe nursing practice. Understanding the breadth and depth of knowledge gained will help when applying for positions in dialysis centers, rehabilitation centers, private practices, and birthing centers. All of the abovementioned opportunities can help the new graduate expand their knowledge base and reach the community from a different angle other than direct bedside nursing care in the hospital setting.
While hospital-based nursing is a career choice many new graduates take in order to meet the needs of their practicing desires and expand their nursing opportunities, it is not always the best choice for all new graduates. There are a number of great opportunities outside of the hospital environment that allow for great growth in nursing knowledge and practice while leading to community outreach, legislature changes, and much more.
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Feeg, V., Mancino, D.J. (2015). Shifting employment and education trends for new graduates. DEAN’S Notes, 36(3), 1-4.
Spector, N., Blegen, M., Silvestri, J., Barnsteiner, J., Lynn, M., & Ulrich, B. (2015). Transition to practice in non-hospital settings. Journal of Nursing Regulation, 6(1), 4-13.