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Nurses: Where are the Jobs?

This past year I was ready to go back to work after a long (too long!) hiatus. Sadly, after an extensive job search, I was not successful in finding a nursing job. But the good news is that I’m ready to share my 20/20 hindsight perspective! So where are all the jobs?

Hospital Nurse Jobs

Hospital nursing jobs are not easy to come by these days. The new reality is that hospitals are laying people off. While many are quick to point out that bedside nurses are not directly affected, they definitely are indirectly affected. When I inquired about working in the recovery room I was told that there were two contracts ending, but that they weren’t looking to renew them. They also were not authorized to hire a staff nurse to replace the contractual nurses. Basically this means the recovery room nurses are going to be asked to do more with less. This, unfortunately, is a pattern that is being repeated everywhere, as we’ve seen from the Vanderbilt layoff situation.

Long Term Care

Long term care is probably a much better bet. I got an immediate call back and a subsequent interview request from a brand new long term care facility. I declined to follow through, because the facility was not scheduled to be finished until after my RN license became “inactive.” Most nurses I’ve known don’t consider long term care to be a desirable career choice, but nurses need to reconsider, because LTC is where the jobs are. New grads should especially keep this option open, as it’s a great way to get some initial experience under your belt that will eventually lead to a hospital job.

Telehealth and Home Health Care

Telehealth and home health care are also a better bet. As hospitals are struggling to become financially accountable for re-admissions, they are utilizing nurses to solve this problem. Some hospitals are even acquiring home health care agencies, in order to have a better arc of care. They are also utilizing more nurses in the role of telephone follow up.

Nurse Practitioners

If you have the time and patience to get complete an NP program, this seems like best way to go. With consistent scheduling and less physically demanding work, it certainly leads to a better quality of life. A quick search online for nurse jobs shows a healthy supply of nurse practitioner jobs. These jobs are everywhere from specialty doctors offices, (think ENTs, pain specialists, neurologists) to the CVS Minute Clinics. And if you just can’t let go of that adrenaline kick you get from working in the hospital, there appears to be plenty of openings for NP hospital jobs.

Strategy and Networking

So what’s the best way to get back in the nursing game? Whether you are a new grad, or like myself, just spent a little too long not working, I think the answer to getting a job is to be strategic. Just a simple nursing license is not going to get your foot in the door these days. When I graduated in 2004 the possibilities were endless. Once you had RN after your name, you could basically choose any hospital, and collect your sign on bonus. Nowadays, not so much. You need to form strategic relationships. If you are a nursing student: use your clinical experiences to form relationships with the nursing staff. Find out what the needs are. Better yet, start a conversation with the nurse manager. Even if a hospital has a hiring freeze you still might be able to get your foot in the door with some good old fashioned networking. And if I were a nursing student I would be doing everything I can to secure a CNA position, before graduating.

And finally nurses: learn from my mistakes! If you are considering taking time off, be careful not to take too much time off. In retrospect, I probably would have been better off maintaining some sort of part time position. But that’s why they call it 20/20 hindsight, right?

If you have any ideas about who else is hiring nurses, please leave it in the comments – I need all the help I can get!