How did I get my first nursing job? How did I secure a job interview? What area of nursing did I work for my first job?
I get asked these questions a lot by my viewers, so let’s get to it.
How I Got My First Nursing Job
My first nursing job started with my senior practicum in nursing school. During my last semester, our class got to pick our preferred clinical placements, so I opted to work at cardiac progressive care unit. I really loved working on that unit. I loved my preceptor, the nurses who worked that floor, and the patient population that I got to serve.
In fact, I liked it so much that I told both my preceptor and the nurse manager that if a position ever opened up, I’d love to work there after graduation. The nurse manager said, “Actually, I am going to have a position opening up. You should apply online for the position.”
I was really excited, because the position was day shift, and I had heard that many new nurse grads had to start working night shift to find a job. While there are many benefits of working night shift, I prefer to sleep at night!
So, I applied online, attached my resume, and it wasn’t long until the nurse recruiter contacted me to set up an interview. During the interview, I was definitely nervous, but not as nervous as I would have been if I hadn’t already met the manager.
The nurse manager asked me those typical interview questions such as, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” and “Why do you want to work on this unit, and what skills can you bring to the team?” She also gave me a few scenarios of stressful situations and asked how I would handle myself in those scenarios.
At the end of the interview, the nurse manager offered me the job. I was very excited and surprised, as many hospitals will require the managers to interview a certain number of applicants before they can hire a nurse. The next day, I officially accepted the position. This was about month and a half before I graduated, so I had already secured my first nursing job before I graduated nursing school.
Quick Tip for Nursing Students
When you are working your clinicals in nursing school, I’d highly recommend that you be thinking of which areas of nursing you like the most. If you find a particular area of nursing that you like, try to get the contact information for the nurse manager and/or your preceptor. This small effort in networking can pay off, and you can later contact them to see if positions are open.
In addition, you’ll want to be gathering letters of recommendation prior to graduation, as most employers will want those when you apply for your nursing job. I asked two of my professors to write a letter of recommendation, and they completed those for me. To successfully find a nursing job, you need to start long before graduation!
What Happened After I Accepted the Job Offer?
After I accepted the nursing position, I had to go through an entire orientation period in which I learned how to use the hospital’s computer system and other resources. In addition, I had to complete a physical and had various blood testing / drug testing done. I then graduated on a Saturday and officially started working on Monday.
I was hired on as a nurse graduate, which meant that I worked side-by-side with a registered nurse. Because I hadn’t yet taken the NCLEX, I couldn’t administer medication or perform invasive nursing procedures, but I could do most other tasks during this period. After I passed NCLEX on my first try, I was able to administer medications, which is a huge part of a nurse’s job.
While working and being oriented on the floor, I was also in a nurse residency program. I got to view hands-on demonstrations and attend classes, and this helped me transition from student to nurse.
And that’s one thing that I really appreciate about the hospital that hired me: they had a fantastic training program. If you’re a new nurse grad, I’d highly recommend seeking out a teaching hospital that has a great residency and training program in place. If you go to a smaller place, you might miss out on those much-needed resources that can give you a solid foundation upon which you can build your nursing career.
Cardiac Progressive Care PCU (ICU Step-Down) Experience
My first job was pretty intense, but it helped me learn nursing! I would get patients who would be really sick and require around-the-clock care. Many of the patients should have been in the ICU, but many times the beds were too full in the ICU, so we received those patients.
The patient load for day shift would be around 4-5 patients, which doesn’t sound like much compared to a nurse working a med-surg floor with 8-10 patients, but these patients were extremely sick and needed constant medications, blood transfusions, drips, etc.
The focus of our unit was cardiac, but if a patient was in the hospital for another issue (such as a GI surgery), and a complication developed with their heart, they’d be transferred to us. So, you’d have to know all of your body systems to treat these patients.
Looking back, that area of nursing was very intense, but I wouldn’t trade that experience for the world. Not only did I get fantastic training, but I also learned how to think like a nurse, manage my time better, and so much more. We usually grow the most when we are thrust into difficult and uncomfortable situations, so always remember that as a nurse.
Conclusion: That’s How I Got My First Nursing Job
That was my story of how I got my first nursing job, as well as the area of nursing I chose to work. I was blessed because I was able to secure a job before graduation, and I’d encourage nursing students to work hard to network and build your resume long before graduation occurs.