This month I have the honor of hosting the Nurse Blog Carnival and the age-old question, “New nursing graduates in specialty areas?”
As a nursing instructor, I get to hear a lot of dreams and goals from my students. I actually encourage it. It helps give them direction and really start thinking about their careers. As with most dreams, they are lofty. Although I encourage dream building, I also try to encourage them to be realistic. I like to remind them that dreams and goals are often obtained after a journey and usually some sacrifice and hard work.
Most nursing student goals are about working in specialty areas. The place they always dreamed of working and often the reason they became a nurse. However, sometimes, in their educational journey, they run into dream crushers. You know them – the ones who paint the dismal picture of how “you MUST get a LEAST a year of med-surg under your belt”. Well, although not a popular opinion, I don’t necessarily agree. I think there is place for new grads in specialty areas – they just have to be the right candidate. Just like you need the right candidate for a med-surg position.
The Bossy Nurse also agrees with this not-so-popular opinion. In their article The Myth of Medical-Surgical Nursing: Why New Grads Should Pursue their Specialty of Choice, she gives some great advice on why seeking a position in your ideal specialty is a good idea. I particularly like how she sums it up with, “Any specialty in nursing can give you a foundation in your desired nursing practice.” I couldn’t agree more!
I almost fell prey to those dream crushers. However, I took some advice from a wise, old nurse who gave me some wonderful career advice – “If you want to work anywhere, get some ICU experience! You just might have to make some sacrifices, but I know you can do it.” (That wise, old nurse was my mom & it was good advice!) I graduated from nursing school in Brooklyn, NY in 1998. You could hardly find a job after graduation at the time and forget about a job in a specialty area. So, after a job hunt and some work put to an ATS-friendly resume, we made some sacrifices and moved to…. Memphis, TN for an ICU internship.
Yes, it was hard. Yes, we made the sacrifice to move from our families. But, we had a dream and a goal and that sacrifice paid off. I can attest, it was one of the hardest things I did. I thought I studied a lot in school – learning ICU care was even more challenging! And the learning curve was steep. But, I was more invested and loved all of it!
If you are interested in what it might be like to start off your career in the ICU, you have to read An Intensive Start to Your Career at RNDeer.com. This is an artful and articulate description of what it is like to start your nursing career in the ICU. They even have a link to ICU internships listed by state. Although typically very competitive, you never know unless you apply!
Like I mentioned before, working in a specialty area right out of school is not for everyone. I precepted quite a few new grads in the ICU and they are not successful as they did not really investigate all that would go into starting off in a specialty area. Brittney Wilson, BSN, RN at The Nerdy Nurse gives some great career advice in Best Nursing Specialty for a New Grad. She gives frank advice on the reality of career choices and some tangible advice on how to land a job in a specialty area.
Although “old thinking” is sometimes hard to change, it does change and is changing. However, don’t get locked into the idea that you HAVE to have your dream job as your first job. Again, dreams are things we aspire to and move towards. I often tell my students, your first job might not be your dream job, but all experiences are invaluable and will lead you to your dream job.
So, should we have new graduates in specialty areas? Sure, why not! But, more importantly, we need to make sure we have the right person for the job. It is human lives we care for, and for that, our choices need to be made carefully and wisely.
What are your thoughts? We would love to hear what you have to say? What are your opinions and experiences? Leave a comment below and lets start a conversation.
This post was written as part of the Nurse Blog Carnival. More posts on this topic can be found at http://thenurseteacher.com/. If you are interested in participating find out more details and sign up.