So you’ve just flipped the tassel on your cap to the left, marking an end to those long hours of conscientious study, instruction and testing to become a registered nurse (RN). If you think all that hard, tedious work is in your rearview mirror, welcome to Reality Check 101. Although the medical profession has seen considerable growth on the job front in recent years, nurses fresh out of college are seeing something else on some regional job postings: not accepting new grads.
Based on a study released in January 2013 by the California Institute for Nursing & Health Care, more than 40 percent of the licensed nurses polled were still looking for work long after earning their degrees. This group represented half of the 10,294 nurses that were newly licensed by state exam between 2011 and 2012.
And now that an escalating number of medical institutions are preferring to add seasoned nurses to their payrolls, where does that position the greenhorns? Martin Luther King, Jr. Multi-Service Ambulatory Care Center registered nurse Lori White-Bruce said they would be in promising standing if their institution of higher learning also conditioned them pragmatically.
“Nursing schools could better prepare their students by encouraging them to work as student nurses,” said White-Bruce, a 26-year veteran dedicated to the prevention of illness and injury. “This way they are already familiar with how the facility works and can observe the seasoned nurse in the work environment.”
White-Bruce, whose multiple duties at the public urgent care center include preoperative and postoperative teaching, said she supports a push by many hospitals to hire nurses with experience.
“The seasoned nurse is already well-versed in hospital protocols and expectations in general. It is just a matter of learning how they perform duties at the particular facility,” said White-Bruce. “With the new grad, you would have to teach her everything from the beginning.”
By the first quarter of 2013, registered nurses in L.A. were earning between $45,000 and $127,000 annually, with an average yearly income of around $80,000.
“The salary is a bonus for doing what you love,” emphasized White-Bruce.
So what is the best way to get noticed by those with the power to hire?
“I would advise new grads to work as student nurses in the facilities where they perform clinical,” said White-Bruce. “You are more likely to be hired if you are already a part of the facility.”
Sharon Raiford Bush is an award-winning journalist who covers topics of social interest in greater Los Angeles. Some news articles she has authored have been archived by the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. Sharon also contributes to Examiner.com.