Despite the high demand for nurses, recently graduated registered nurses are having a difficult time finding employment, especially in Los Angeles which has the highest number of new graduates in the state. A survey by the California Institute of Nursing & Health Care revealed that 46 percent of newly licensed nurses graduating in 2011 and 2012 were not yet employed as of the January 2013 survey report. The number one reason given for not being able to find nursing work was a lack of experience.

Luckily for 28-year-old Jorge Herrera, who received his nursing degree earlier this year, he made sure to get the experience he needed and achieved his career goal while working on his degree. He started his nursing career working in cardiology and telemetry before moving into the intensive care unit, which is exactly where he wanted to end up.

From nursing student to working registered nurse

Registered Nurse Jorge Herrera (credit: Niki Payne)

Registered Nurse Jorge Herrera (photo courtesy of Jorge Herrera)

Herrera started his education at age 16 when he took a class at the Southern California Regional Occupational Center on hospital occupations and learned what it meant to be a nurse. He then pursued an associate’s degree in nursing from LA Harbor College, where he learned the theoretical and clinical skills needed to work in an acute setting. His bachelor of science in nursing from University of Phoenix further prepared him by reinforcing nursing theories, helping him pave the way for greater opportunities. “In May, I’ll be presenting in front of the evidence-based conference covering delirium in the I.C.U. and what we are doing to detect, prevent and treat it,” says the Los Angeles native.

The course Herrera remembers as being the most interesting and helpful from his education is a research course. “This course is making the presentation I am working on for the evidence-based conference a whole lot easier,” he says quite thankfully. Without the knowledge and skills learned in this particular course, Herrera believes his presentation would not have been prepared correctly.

Advice for recent nursing graduates on finding work

Be diligent in your job search and take on any job in a hospital setting to help get your foot in the door. Herrera recommends getting exposure through networking and extracurricular activities since knowing someone at a hospital can definitely help improve job prospects. “My friend was a lab tech who got me an interview. They hired me for a student nurse position after the first semester of nursing school,” says Herrera. This made getting a job as an registered nurse a seamless transition for the go-getting nurse. Through hard work, quality service and constant exposure, Herrera got to where he is today in just two years, and he’s loving it.

Niki Payne is a freelance writer covering all things Entertainment in Los Angeles. Her work can be found on


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