A couple years ago I can remember talking to a friend who was struggling to find her first nursing job after graduation. She had done everything right; top of her class, passed the boards at first attempt and even worked as a CNA for several years prior to getting a RN license. All of this did nothing in helping her find work. Many of the internships she applied for were saturated with applicants who like her, stood out as amazing in many areas. Granted, she did want to stay in one of the biggest and most popular cities in the country, Los Angeles. I kept encouraging her not to give up even though the perfect unit in the perfect hospital might not happen on the first try and that considering other opportunities would at least get her foot through the door. However, working at another nursing home wasn’t an option so she kept searching for a good fit. Eventually she found work as a home health nurse in a suburb outside of L.A, gained a lot of experience and really enjoyed the job. After a year, one of the office managers recommended her for a position on the cardiac unit at UCLA Hospital where she now works.
Even though finding that first nursing position can be like trudging through mud, it helps to know that something will pan out. It may not always be our ideal nursing dream job but sometimes starting with the undesirable position can lead to making connections and steer us toward a path we may not have even thought of. When I graduated from nursing school and moved to Oregon with my significant other, I already had it all planned. I was going to get hired as a nurse intern in Portland on a med-surgical or ICU unit in after a few interviews, get recruited into their hospital and everything would be hunky- dory. Well, of course nothing went as planned. Out of the fifteen or so nursing internships I applied to in the city and surrounding areas, all of them sent me a nice appreciation letter for my time and expressed how hard it was to decide from so many applicants; which ultimately led to a no for me. I’m not going to lie, I really got down in the dumps about it and began to lose hope.
Then, after realizing I had put all my eggs in one basket by applying to internships and nothing else, I changed up my game. For any and everything available, I filled out an application. Within a month, I had my first nursing interview at Peace Health Hospital on a psychiatric unit. Though I enjoyed my psych rotations in nursing school and had a major interest in mental health, a lockdown secure unit wasn’t my first choice. I ended up getting the position and I couldn’t have asked for a better experience. Those I worked with became the greatest mentors for me, I grew in ways I don’t imagine could have happened anywhere else because of one key factor, I was outside my comfort zone. The year and a half I spent at that hospital tested me and strengthened my resilience to scary moments where I could easily get punched by a volatile or dangerous patient. It helped to develop awareness to situations and improve my nursing assessment skills by keenly evaluating both the medical and psychological needs of a patient. I think they call it holism. The point is, sometimes we may have a clear vision for our expectation in how opportunities will turn out but it may not always manifest in the way we first imagine.