Getting a Nursing Job in a Tough Economy

June 30, 2011 at 7:10 am

Students enrolled in BSN programs as well as recent nursing graduates are constantly being reminded of the current job squeeze despite nursing shortages.  This post is a follow-up to my previous post on the nursing job market.  After some research I’ve found particularly helpful advice on how to land a nursing job in a tough economy on There’s definitely hope for those of you looking.  While experienced nurses have an edge in the hiring process, there will always be exceptions for the right candidate.  You just have to prepare yourself.

Donna Cardillo, RN, MA, well-known career guru, writes:

Healthcare is changing and so is the role of the nurse. All predictions are healthcare will continue to move out of the hospital and into the community, so why not get ahead of the curve?

You must look in new directions for employment and use new methods to find and get those jobs. Consider outpatient hemodialysis with private dialysis companies (find them online), school nursing, inpatient rehab facilities, public health, home care (many agencies have special mentoring programs for new graduates), psychiatric facilities, cancer care centers, etc. Whether this is what you had in mind, it is imperative you find work in nursing and not stay unemployed for long.

Volunteer somewhere medical while you look for paid employment. Volunteering is a great way to get your foot in the door, find learning opportunities and expand your network. It also gives you recent relevant experience to put on your resume and discuss during an interview. Also, volunteering often leads to paid employment.

Next, activate and build your network. This means contacting everyone you know, in and out of healthcare. Let them know what you’re looking for and request their help to get referrals, recommendations, introductions and leads, if applicable.

You also need to attend local chapter meetings of nursing professional associations such as the American Nurses Association and talk to people. Have business cards made, dress in your professional best, shake hands and make connections. Networking is a great way to get a job, especially when you have obstacles. If there’s a particular specialty you’d like to work in such as ED or psych, attend local chapter meetings of related professional associations such as the Emergency Nurses Association ( and the American Psychiatric Nurses Association ( as a guest.

You also want to present yourself as one of the best, if not the best, candidate for every job you pursue and in every networking situation. Buy or borrow a business suit and practice using a firm handshake with a sincere smile and direct eye contact. Speak professionally and enthusiastically about the profession, your career goals and yourself. Even in a tight job market, employers are willing to take a chance on the right candidate — someone who has an upbeat, can-do attitude and professional demeanor. Read “New Nurse, New Job Strategies” ( and “The RN Jobs Squeeze” (

I’d like to emphasize Nurse Donna’s advice on getting ahead of the curve and networking.  All it takes in a little research.  There are several nursing support communities online where you can find postings on upcoming conferences and events where you’ll be able to meet people who can potentially lend you a helping hand in finding a job, and where you’ll get to learn about the latest trends in nursing including changing job patterns.  Also, don’t forget the resources you already have.  Chances are you know some working nurses or you’ve been through a nursing program where you’ve met people who can put in a good word for you while you apply for jobs.

To read Nurse Donna’s entire article, please visit:


A Letter to Nurses

June 29, 2011 at 1:22 pm

My baby is having surgery tomorrow morning so I thought I’d write this post today. I’m sure there are several things on the nursing news forefront, but right now the most important news in my life is the care of my child and I wish to share it with you. You deal with people like me everyday, but we don’t always get to share all of our feelings and thoughts with you. I thought I’d do it now. Hopefully it strengthens your resolve continue with your RN to BSN program because we need you… I need you.

Dear Nurse,

Tomorrow I am putting my daughter in your capable hands. Even though she is having minor surgery, I am still terrified. As a mom we want to do everything in the world to prevent our children from experiencing pain. The pain she faces now will eliminate greater pain that she may face in the future. My head knows that, but my heart still aches.

Please be patient with my questions and my irrational fears. You know so much more than I do on this subject and my nerves can get in the way of clearly thinking. In this age of technology I also may know too much of the wrong things: extreme cases and false horror stories. Your patience and confidence will go far in alleviating my irrationality.

Please see me as a mom and not as a random face walking through the door. You deal with this stress on a daily basis. This is a major event in my life and in my child’s life. Your smile, compliments and gentleness will help me to put my trust in you.

For the nurses who have called and that I’ve met with at the pre-op, thank you. You’ve told me what to expect, calmed my fears, answered my questions thoroughly, treated me with respect and greeted me with a smile. I know that you are doing a job that you love and are doing the best you can. Releasing my baby into your hands is going to be difficult, but I know that you care about her, too. We may only see you for a day, but the impact that you are going to have on the quality of her life and her confidence cannot be measured.

With Sincerity and Gratitude,
Lanie’s Mom

Nursing School: How to get by and excel

June 29, 2011 at 6:51 am

There are a million articles on how to succeed in nursing school, some of which are on this very blog.  However, I recently came across an article written by a new RN on (which is a great community for nurses) that has some excellent advice that you don’t see very often.  If you’re thinking about becoming a nurse, or if you’re currently in a BSN or other nursing program, this post is definitely for you.  The tips are summarized below:

For Pre-nursing students:

Get a job!  There is nothing like observing what nurses do from day-to-day in the real world to help you decide if it’s really for you. You can be a CNA, a patient care assistant, a unit clerk, or even a patient transporter with little to no experience needed. Be sure to mention on your job application that you are considering going to nursing school, HR people love that.  Other great reasons to get a healthcare job before nursing school?  Professional contacts, possible tuition assistance, and having a paycheck while in school.

Get your pre-requisites done before you start actual nursing courses. The requirements vary from school to school, but even if your school will allow you to take pre-reqs while you are matriculated as a nursing student, it’s just not a good idea. Your grades in one course or the other will suffer. Nursing school WILL dominate your life.

Academic tips:

Get some NCLEX review books now, even if you’re not close to graduating. They’re like Cliff’s notes for nursing. If you can’t afford them you can buy them used on Ebay, borrow them from someone who’s already passed NCLEX, or just go to Barnes & Noble and sit and read them there. They cut out all but the most important things that a nurse needs to know for each disease process.

Then DO the NCLEX questions. Answer a set number of questions, then go back and review the rationales for the ones you got wrong. Figure out why you got it wrong, go back and study the material again if you need to. Repeat. Plan on doing 100+ questions a week during your first year of nursing school, and increase it during your final semesters. By the time the NCLEX rolls around, you should be doing at least 500 practice questions a week.

Survival Tips for Clinicals:

Show up early, at least 15 minutes, every morning to get you assignment. Find out how the night went, and get updated. If your instructor knows that you can be counted on to do these things, you can end up getting the choice assignments, and sent to help out other students. You can also use the time in the morning to get your care plans and other paperwork done before you leave for the day.

Be nice to the floor nurses, and if you have down time, try and help out your fellow students. You’ll never know when you’ll need a favor.

Being comfortable touching, talking to and just being around patients is one of the biggest obstacles that many nursing students have to overcome when they start their clinical experiences. If you have already done that, it will be that much easier for you.

The author also has some great tips on how to get a job once you’ve graduated.  Please read the entire article here:


Nursing Job Market Tight for New RNs

June 28, 2011 at 6:40 am

If you’ve just graduated from an RN-BSN course or gotten certified through a licensing program, then you’re probably searching for a job right now (if you haven’t already landed one).  The word about nursing jobs has recently been contradictory.  There are definitely jobs out there, and there nursing shortage is real.  However, it’s also true that the job market for new RNs is tighter than it has been.  This, of course, is due to the current economic downtown.  Because of the recession, many nurses who should be retiring are staying on the job.  This means fewer nursing positions have opened up, and many positions have been filled by more experienced nurses who went from part-time to full-time.

However, this recent squeeze for nursing jobs is temporary.  A wave of retirement is expected once the economy improves, and as reports have shown, the economy has shown steady improvement in the past year.  Yet isn’t to say that the current squeeze isn’t serious.  An article in USA Today reports that “in metro Cincinnati, the job market for RNs is the tightest in the 20 years that a hospital workforce survey has been conducted by the Greater Cincinnati Health Council, says the council’s Mary Duffey.”

Further, “Large nursing shortages are still forecast as aging Baby Boomers need more care and millions of additional Americans get insurance in 2014 under the nation’s new health law. A Vanderbilt University analysis last year — before the health law passed — predicted that the U.S. will be short 260,000 nurses by 2025.”  This means serious consequences for the country’s healthcare system.  Peter Buerhaus, the study’s author and director of Vanderbilt’s Center for Interdisciplinary Health Workforce Studies, says it’s critical for policy leaders to find a way to keep new nursing graduates in the profession through the recession so projected shortages aren’t even worse.

But not to fear!  You still have other options.  Many nurses who aren’t landing the hospital positions they’ve hoped for are turning to nursing homes and home health.  The USA Today article state, that to get jobs now, new RNs may need to be flexible about location and shifts and look beyond their preferred jobs in hospitals. Jobs are easier to find in some parts of the country than others. “Our students are getting jobs, it’s just that they’re not getting their first or second choice,” says Janet Allan, dean of the University of Maryland nursing school.

Also, for advice on how to make yourself the best job candidate possible, please visit our posts under Advice for student nurses and Advice for nurses.

To read the entire article cited in this post, please visit:


Nurses Should be Aware of Hospital Cleanliness

June 27, 2011 at 8:27 pm

For some reason, it seems like every week for the past month I have to visit the hospital as a patient or to visit a patient. It’s interesting the seasons of life that we must go through. On my trips to the hospital I am always thinking of what I could write about for this post. Today’s ventured made me think of hospital cleanliness. As a student in an RN to BSN program, the cleanliness of the hospital you work at could keep you healthy and your patients on the road to recovery.

I have to admit that the hospital that I go to for my primary physician, my OB-GYN, and my daughter’s pediatrician is fairly clean. A few weeks ago I mentioned that I went in for an ultrasound and was disturbed by what I saw: bloody paper towels and condoms lying in an open waste basket and dried urine encrusted on the toilet seat in my exam room. Feeling grossed out did help take my mind off my nerves and the procedure to come, but if these filthy things were in view, how clean were the instruments that were used on me?

I found an article on that has some interesting statistics about hospitals in Canada. Okay, so it’s a border away, but it’s not like it’s a third world country. The Canada Newswire reported that, “Studies show that hospital-acquired infections kill between 8,000 and 12,000 Canadians a year. 42 per cent of these deaths, between 3,200 and 4,800, are in Ontario.

“As many as half of these deaths are preventable,” says Sharon Richer, the northern Ontario vice-president of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU) of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE).”

The report continues to say that, “Although medical experts are blaming hospital overcrowding (resulting from cuts to patient beds) for infection outbreaks – particularly outbreaks of antibiotic- resistant superbugs – the Ontario government plans to cut another 5,000 acute care beds province-wide. 16,000 hospital beds have been cut in the province of Ontario since 1995. Currently, hospital bed occupancy is at record levels, over 97 per cent.”

Getting your RN to BSN degree is important, but so is finding the right hospital to work at. Before you apply or when you are at an interview, visit some of the bathrooms and mosey on down the halls. If the stink of cleaning agents is replaced by the smell of urine, you may want to consider another hospital.

To read the complete articles mentioned in this post, please visit:

iPhone Can Be Nurses’ Best Friend

June 24, 2011 at 9:06 pm

I don’t have an iPhone and I don’t really want one. I can barely figure out how to use the basic phone I have and when I do use it, it’s to ask my husband to pick up dinner. I don’t like to text message and I think most of texting is a huge waste of time. Anyway… iPhones are making their way into the palms of busy nurses across the nation and helping to make the health care profession a little easier; now that’s something RN to BSN students can get on board with!

On, contributing writer Debra Wood, RN, explains how the iPhone is improving how nurses are able to aid their patients. “’Having a handheld device in your pocket all day is fabulous,’ said Karen Macauley, DNP, APRN, director of the Simulation and Standardized Patient Nursing Laboratory and clinical associate professor at the University of San Diego’s Hahn School of Nursing and Health Science in California.

“Macauley references drug and lab manuals and treatment guidelines in her internal medicine practice and shows patients diagrams or photographs to help them understand their disease process or recommended therapies. She appreciates that the information contained is updated regularly and does not become outdated like printed books.”

Doctors have been using this device for a while and now it’s making its way into the hands of nurses. Just this week I took my daughter to the doctor’s and as he was prescribing her medication, out came the iPhone with a dosing calculator.

“John Berry, RN, charge nurse at a 33-bed long-term acute care facility in Beaumont, Texas, also finds an iPhone, loaded with Epocrates, valuable in providing safe care. He uses it for identifying a pill, checking for pharmaceutical interactions, assessing significance of laboratory results, and providing patient information.

“’Epocrates has so many pictures and diagrams that you can show the family, instantly, so they can understand the depth of the disease they are dealing with and the curative possibilities, the whole perspective,’ Berry said. ‘You can see the understanding come over them.’”

It seems like there is always some new disease, diagnosis, treatment or drug on the horizon in the medical world, and fortunately technology is helping those with an RN to BSN degree to be aware of this ever changing environment.

To read the complete article mentioned in this post, please visit:

Experts Discuss the Future of Nursing

June 22, 2011 at 7:55 pm

At an event in Washington, D.C, a panel of experts discussed the future of nursing and what’s in store for current nurses. I’m sure that current RN to BSN students will agree with many of the opinions that were shared at this conference.

On, a brief report was made about current issues pertaining to the future of the health care industry. “The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts the U.S. will need to add 580,000 nurses to the workforce by 2018. Moreover, these nurses will need higher skill levels than current nurses possess… The Institute of Medicine recommends that 80% of registered nurses hold a bachelor’s degree or higher by 2020. Yet only half of nurses now have this credential. Experts say the nursing shortage and skills gap jeopardize our nation’s ability to provide care, especially for the aging population.”

Although it has been said time and again that the nursing shortage is going to be a major issue that is going to hinder optimum patient care, there were several solutions discussed to address this pending problem. “Some educators believe the future of nursing depends on recruiting more men and minorities into the profession. Panelist May Wykle, nursing dean at Case Western Reserve University, described her institution’s community outreach program in which nursing students work with underserved schoolchildren and teenagers to get them interested in a nursing career.”

Another solution presented explained that “Educating the next-generation nursing workforce requires adaptable educational models, said Pamela Fuller. ‘Many nurses have heavy family and work obligations, and need education that fits their full schedules,’ she said. ‘Educators need to provide flexible options for taking classes, whether on-campus or online.’”

Finally, technology was an important topic of discussion. The nurses of today need to be well versed in electronic medical records and nursing students have a vast virtual library that can be used to improve their skills. “Moderator Tracey Wilen-Daugenti… presented preliminary findings from current research on nurses’ technology skills related to electronic health records. ‘The research shows that higher education must do more to help nurses develop technical skills to improve the quality and efficiency of care,’ she said.”

This is an exciting time to get your RN to BSN degree. There are so many options out there in a field that is constantly growing and evolving.

To read the complete article mentioned in this post, please visit:

Adjusting to a Shift Work Schedule

June 20, 2011 at 8:21 pm

Yes, there are a lot of nursing jobs out there, but RN to BSN students still might have to make some compromises to get their foot in the door of the hospital or specialty of your choice. Shift work, for better or worse, seems to be the requirement for a lot of nurses. Kim McCarten, contributor for has some advice for those who need to adjust to this intense schedule.

My husband is an LVN at a local detention facility and he is required to work a double shift about once a month. I know that this is quite different than shift work, but the long hours nevertheless causes some pretty big waves in our household. It seems like our bodies weren’t meant to work 12 hour (or more) shifts; sickness, exhaustion, and irritability seem to be a few common symptoms that workers have to overcome.

McCarten writes that it is important to really weigh the benefits and downsides to accepting a shift work position. Limited flexibility, weakened decision making skills at work due to being overly tired, and burnout are just a few of the setbacks. Higher pay, a less busy and stressful work environment (verses day shifts), and more time during the day for family to reduce childcare costs are some of the benefits to working these demanding hours.

McCarten has some valuable tips to help you adjust if you’re starting out in a shift work position:
• “If you’re feeling fatigued during your shift, try to nap during breaks, or try more frequent, shorter breaks throughout your shift to rest.”
• “Don’t feel pressure to sleep immediately when you get home, but don’t put it off too long or you could get a “phantom second wind” that will throw you off your schedule.”
• “Eat a high-protein meal just before your shift… Eat your main meal a couple of hours before your shift.”
• “Watch out for ‘the second dinner:’ the temptation to eat a big meal with family then another big meal during your shift.”
• “Exercise before work, for maximum energy and stress management.”
• ”Self-awareness is key: watch for changes in mood, reaction to stress, any signs of depression or anxiety–and take steps to address these changes.”
• “Take the time to make plans with family.”
• “Schedule down time just for yourself; ideas might include set times for getting a manicure, visiting a museum, taking a class, etc.”

Being in an online RN to BSN program, you may feel like you already don’t get enough sleep or have enough time for friends and family. Once you start working, it’s important to start off on the right foot. Put these tips in motion so you can make the most of your new career.

To read the complete article mentioned in this post, please visit

Nurses Unite to Impact Health Care Reform

June 17, 2011 at 7:37 pm

It seems like so much is going on in the health care industry that government health care reform is on the back burner. Natural disasters, hospital mergers, budget cuts and the job market seem to be taking center stage. However, students who are in an online RN to BSN program will be impacted by the input and decisions that current nurses are making to change the medical industry.

Mari Edlin, California Healthline Regional Correspondent, writes on about two new nursing organizations that are giving input to the changes that the government is planning to make in the health care field. Edlin writes, “Two new accountable care organizations taking shape in Northern California may help determine what works and what doesn’t in the new world of health care reform.

“After a successful launch of a two-year ACO [accountable care organization] pilot with 41,000 CalPERS members in Sacramento, Blue Shield of California, Catholic Healthcare West and Hill Physicians Medical Group will parlay their experience into a new ACO targeting 5,000 members of the San Francisco Health Service System. This time around, UCSF Medical Center will join the ranks.

“Another ACO — partnering Brown & Toland Physicians, Blue Shield and California Pacific Medical Center — will offer integrated care to 21,000 members of the S.F. Health Service system. Both ACOs are due to launch in July.”

According to Karen Cheung on, “With today’s expanded role of the nurse going beyond traditional responsibilities, nurses act as care coordinators, disease managers, data analysts, and process managers, among other things… As ACOs increasingly focus on improved care coordination and delivery, nurses may be the perfect fit for evaluating current resources and staffing levels, as well as solving problems effectively.”

“Well-designed analytics are critical to clearly understanding the opportunities for improving outcomes, setting goals, and assessing downstream measures of progress in the ACO model,” said Patty Jones, RN, MBA. “Nurses have the opportunity to play a role in accurately reviewing information about the targeted populations and identifying members who will be well-served by the organization’s programs, as well as measuring progress.”

Edlin explains, “In a nutshell, ACOs reward health care providers for delivering patient-centered, coordinated care across many care settings to a defined population. Incentives are based on quality and cost savings. ACOs focus on achieving clinical improvement goals rather than on the volume of services provided.”

Finally, nurses are being given a voice to help better an industry that is on the cusp of change. The nurses of today are fighting for the patients and nurses of tomorrow. Those who are in an RN to BSN program will certainly benefit from the experience and opinions of those currently in the field.

To read the complete articles mentioned in this post, please visit:

Responding to Patient Cries for Help

June 16, 2011 at 6:33 am

BSN students and all nurses know that the number one reason they got into the profession was to help people in need.  However, let’s face it, short staffing and heavy workloads make it sometimes near impossible for nurses to respond to patients’ calls as quickly as they would like.  On top of that, unanswered calls leave hospital patients feeling helpless and frustrated, and also puts them at great risk.

Tara Parker-Pope, Health writer at the New York Times reports on this issue and cites a couple examples of hospitals that are implementing new programs to deal with the problem of unanswered patient calls.

To illustrate the gravity of the problem, Parker-Pope provides the example of an elderly patient in a hospital in Cleveland with a broken leg.  She phoned her son, in Pittsburgh, because her calls were not being answered.  From 100 miles away, her son tracked down the floor nurse to respond to her mother.

Two examples of hospitals that are proactively dealing with this problem are Albuquerque and the Bronx:

In Albuquerque, three hospitals operated by Presbyterian Healthcare Services, have begun improving the efficiency of its call light system after hearing complaints from focus groups of nurses and patients. They found that requests could be handled far more efficiently if call-button calls were sent to a central operator. That operator can summon support workers via text message to take care of simple requests, like pillows or help with the television remote, freeing nurses to deal with bigger problems like pain relief or tangled IV lines.

The company says it has seen a 92 percent reduction in patient complaints about lack of communication.

In addition, under a “rounding” program, a nurse, administrator or hospital aide must stop by each patient’s room once an hour, regardless of whether the call light is on. “Rounding proactively to address patient needs helps avoid use of the call bell,” said Joanne Ritter-Teitel, vice president and chief nurse executive.

In one case, a patient gasping for air hit the call button, which the operator answered in a matter of seconds. When the operator heard the patient’s distress, she alerted an emergency response team, which rushed to the bed and performed CPR, saving the patient’s life.

At Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, a program called No Passing Zone trains all hospital workers — maintenance people, secretaries, volunteers, security officers and, yes, doctors — to stop what they are doing, if possible, and look in on a patient when they see the call light illuminated.

“The call bell is the patient’s lifeline,” said Jeanne DeMarzo, clinical director of nursing. “We need to act quickly and promptly to respond to the patient’s concern.”

To read Parker-Pope’s entire article, please visit:

As you search for nursing jobs, it’s important to take note of the hospitals’ systems in regards to their staffing and workload.  These two factors dictate how easy or difficult it will be to respond to your patients.  Also take note of their response system.  If you’re lucky, your hospital will have response systems similar to those of the two mentioned above.