top of page
  • Writer's pictureRnMindset

How To Pick Your First Job as A Nurse

Picking your first job as a nurse will be exciting and intimidating. Knowing exactly what you want to do before you sign on with a company might be difficult. The nursing world is different from a lot of other profesions, and there is a big difference from subjects you enjoy learning about, versus the actual jobs themselves. For example, you can love learning about neurology, but being in a neuro ICU might stress you out like crazy. Here are a couple things to consider when you are a new grad nurse looking for your first job.

#1. Start looking early.

Nursing school is stressful, and every nurse at sometime contemplates if they are really going to pass or not. If you work hard in nursing school you will pass, and when you pass your NCLEX, you will be able to start working. Working as a nurse and making money is one of the main reasons why you went to nursing school in the first place, so getting a job should be high on your priority list before you graduate.

If you do not know what the job market is like in your area before you graduate, you will find it difficult to find a job that you enjoy. There is a big difference to just getting a job, and getting a job that you truly like. If you start looking early, months before you graduate, the job search should be quick when you get your NCLEX results.

Looking for jobs before you graduate will help you to understand what jobs are available, but will also give you a chance to learn what other nurses are making in your area so you will know what to ask for when you are in an interview. It is OK to ask your preceptors in clinicals how much you can expect to make as a new grad. Working nurses will usually know what the going rate is in your area.

#2. Do what you enjoy.

Remember that money is a necessity, but that if your personal happiness is destroyed by working a job you hate, the money is useless. Different jobs will pay more than others, but there is usually a cost. Intensive care units, emergency departments, and psych units are a couple of examples that might make a little more than a typical med surg unit. If you land a job that pays better, but you really don't care for trauma, you will not be happy with the extra money.

Doing what you enjoy is important for your mental well being. It is a beautiful thing when you can wake up and truly be happy to go to work. When you enjoy what you do, your patients will be able to tell, and overall you will do better with your job. On the other hand, if you try to force yourself to do a job you hate because you think that the job will either make more money, or is just a job to get somewhere else, like working ICU to become a CRNA, you will not be as productive as you could somewhere else.

Sometimes of course it is not possible to get the exact job you want, and you might have to accept a job that you don't like, but be patient. Your nursing career will be something you do for a majority of your life. If you get a job doing med surg but you have always wanted to work trauma, you will have a great learning opportunity working med surg and building your skill set while waiting for a position to open up in the ED. So while doing what you enjoy is going to matter most, don't be discouraged if you can't do exactly what you want. Your skill set will grow regardless of where you work, and you will be an even better nurse by the time you get the job you really wan't.

#3. Be careful with desperate employers.

Some hospitals, or other facilities are truly awful places to work. As a new grad it will be easy for you to get sucked into an area that will be a harsh place to work. Some of the signs to look out for is large sign on bonuses, and high turn over rates.

With sign on bonuses, these are great if you can get one, and it is actually a good place to work. Some places, however, offer the bonus because they can't get nurses to stay working there. The way that the bonus will usually work is the employer will show online that there is a $3000, or $10,000 bonus, and then have a contract that will say you get the money in increments for how long you stay employed at the company.

With some starting bonuses you won't get any money until you have worked for six months or more. So while it might look like you will get a large check to start paying back loans, this is usually not the case. In reality, you might find that it is a horrible place to work and you will be looking for another job and not get any sign on bonus at all when you quit early.

With high turn over rates, this will show how a place treats their employees. Nurses that stay on a unit for years at a time will prove that it is a good place to work. If you can see that the majority of nurses on a unit have not been there longer than a year, this should raise some red flags. If you can, while you are looking for jobs, ask the nurses on the unit how long they have been working there. This shouldn't be an intrusive question, and it will let you know if you are about to jump into something that will make your new work life miserable.

Nursing is a great career, and if you are blessed enough to get a job that you have always wanted right out of nursing school, then that is great for you. If not, and you have to build your skills while waiting for your dream job, that is fine. Just remember that you will be a nurse for a long time, and when you go into an interview of your dream job you will be able to prove with your experience that you are an awesome nurse and you deserve to have the job that you really want.

Key Points.

#1. Start looking early.

#2. Do what you enjoy.

#3. Be careful with desperate employers.


Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page