Experienced RNs and new graduates from New Jersey and Hudson Valley, N.Y., talked with Nursing Spectrum about their recent experiences in the job market. Successful in their efforts, they offer constructive advice and a message of hope for those currently in the job hunt.
The U.S. healthcare system continues to face a predicted shortfall of up to 260,000 full-time nurses by 2025, and the Department of Labor Statistics forecasts there will be 587,000 new jobs for RNs by 2016. Despite the economic downturn, a shrinking job market, hiring freezes, and hospital closings, these projected statistics give support to our local nurses and to those who share their words of wisdom with us.
Marilyn Tarrant, RN, BSN, Pulmonary Unit, Saint Barnabas Medical Center, Livingston, N.J.Marilyn Tarrant, RN
After graduating from Neumann College with my nursing degree, I expected to be overwhelmed with job offers. Because of the current economic situation, applying for jobs became an obstacle for which I wasnt prepared. I spent hours on the Internet searching for jobs, knowing that Saint Barnabas was my first choice. I began investigating and reaching out to the nurse recruiters.
My recommendation to nurses who are seeking jobs is to be proactive and persistent. I found keeping in contact with the nurse recruiters helped me stand out above all of the overwhelming number of people who had sent in resumes. I have worked at Saint Barnabas for about five months. I am so happy with my new position. I love my coworkers and my manager on 5200 at Saint Barnabas.
Helene J. Pasteur, RN, BSN, BSPH, Intermediate Care Unit, Somerset Medical Center, Somerville, N.Y.Helene J. Pasteur, RN
I found out about the nursing position at Somerset Medical Center from a good friend of mine, who is an RN at Somerset. If you are looking for a job, be patient and keep your options open. I have been a telemetry nurse for five years. At first, I was afraid to venture out of my specialty, but I did. I applied for positions at assisted-living facilities and nursing/rehab centers. They did call me back and I worked per diem until Somerset called me for an interview. For the past four months, I have been working in critical care, an area that I was intimidated by initially, however, with the orientation, review, and staff assistance, my transition has been going well.
Dont be afraid to reapply or call the facility that youve applied to for an update on your application status. I kept calling and resubmitting my applications. I discovered most facilities hold your application for about six months to a year. I also learned many hospitals need nurses; once the hiring freezes are lifted, more job opportunities will become available. Be persistent and patient at the same time.
Jason Smith, RN, BSN, Med/Surg Unit, White Plains (N.Y.) Hospital CenterJason Smith, RN
I found my position as a med/surg nurse at White Plains Hospital while I was a visitor. A family member was admitted to the hospital and I was impressed with the level of care she received during her stay. I decided I wanted to begin my career at White Plains. Although it does take hard work and dedication in preparing and entering this profession, there is no better feeling of self-gratification than helping others.
New graduates face many obstacles while making the transition from student to professional. Time management, prioritizing, critical thinking, and daily stress from work are just a few. At White Plains Hospital we have an extraordinary program called Catch A Star, which is designed for new graduates. I was paired up with a mentor who had experienced the same difficulties and issues I was going through, both work-related and personal. The mentor also helped me balance those two aspects of my life.
Omicel F. Catambay, RN, BSN, Surgical Intensive Care Unit, Hackensack (N.J.) University Medical CenterOmicel F. Catambay, RN
I attended a Nursing Spectrum Career Fair in New York City and met with Joan Orseck, RN, senior nurse recruiter for Hackensack. I already had accepted a job at another hospital, but I remembered having an interesting conversation with Orseck. A year later, I contacted Orseck directly regarding possible openings at Hackensack. I expressed my interest in working in an ICU setting and she found the perfect place for me to interview the SICU. I met with the nurse manager and two experienced SICU nurses. Fortunately, about six months ago I was offered the position and I am grateful.
For anyone looking for a job, I recommend being flexible, patient, and persistent. If youre a new graduate, get med-surg experience. Itll help you as you make your journey from novice nurse, advanced beginner nurse, competent nurse, proficient nurse and finally to being an expert nurse. I look back and realize I had to be patient because there were no immediate openings in the SICU.
Christopher R. Cannara, RN, BSN, EMBA, Surgical Unit and Inpatient Oncology, Mountainside Hospital, Montclair, N.J.Christopher R. Cannara, RN
I had worked as a nurse for Mountainside Hospital early in my career. I left on good terms in order to pursue other career goals, but I decided to stay on as a per diem employee. I believe your reputation follows you wherever you go. When a full-time position at Mountainside became available in my specialty, I was interviewed almost immediately and was rehired.
While employed at Mountainside, I enrolled in an MBA program, and I believe this educational goal and my performance as a staff nurse helped me obtain my current position. Communicating your aspirations to administration also is important. I expressed my interest in becoming a nurse manager, and when a position became available, I applied. As a result, I was promoted about 10 months ago.
Networking is essential, especially for new graduates. Most positions are filled through who you know and not necessarily by what’s on your resume. For experienced nurses, I believe education is the key to advancement and staying competitive in todays job market. It shows your future employer you are highly motivated and dedicated to the profession.
Going above and beyond your duties as a nurse will help you gain recognition among your employers and peers. A good recommendation from your former employer is worth its weight in gold when applying for a job.
Lusana Gapikia, RN, BSN, Cardiac Surgery ICU, The Valley Hospital, Ridgewood, N.J.Lusana Gapikia, RN
I spoke with a recruiter from The Valley Hospital during a job fair and learned about the Residency Program, which orients new graduate nurses to work in critical care. I have worked in the cardiac surgery ICU at The Valley Hospital for about one year.
My recommendation to anyone who is looking for a job is to be confident and persistent and work toward accomplishing your personal goals. Applicants need to show employers they are unique.
As a new graduate I was hesitant to go directly into a critical care setting because I realized patients would be acutely sick and I would have to treat and react quickly. However, I knew my knowledge base, motivation, and adequate support would make me successful. It has been a little less than six months since I have been working independently on the unit. I continue to need the support of my senior staff, but I have become more confident as a critical care nurse. The challenges of working in the SICU are what excite me and make me want to better myself.
Natalie Salcius, RN, BSN, School-Aged Unit, Blythedale Children’s Hospital, Valhalla, N.Y.Natalie Salcius, RN
Someone once told me, When you dont succeed the first time try, try again. That is certainly the motto I used while I embarked on my job search. I began to seek employment in the greater Boston area, and after applying to more than 30 hospitals with few responses, I returned my search to Connecticut where I had lived with my parents. But because I did not have a Connecticut RN license, I was feeling discouraged and desperate for employment.
A friend who was living in the Westchester, N.Y., area knew I wanted to work in a pediatric hospital and had heard great things about Blythedale Children’s Hospital in Valhalla, N.Y. I applied for the position and was hired about 10 months ago. Although it wasnt the easiest road to employment, I never gave up and kept trying even though it meant moving to an unfamiliar location.
It was more difficult than I ever imagined to find a job. Everyone had said how easy it would be to get a job with the nursing shortage. My words of advice to others looking for jobs are to keep trying because eventually you will find a good fit for yourself and the employer. Be willing to accept change, even if it means being offered a job that isnt your first choice or happens to be in a new state or new area. Aim to reach your dreams. With determination, you will land the job youve been searching for, even if it takes longer than you hoped.
Virginia Mooney, RN, BSN, Orthopedics and Amputee Unit, The Burke Rehabilitation Hospital, White Plains, N.Y.Virginia Mooney, RN
I searched the Internet for rehab opportunities including Burkes Web site. After making contact with the nurse recruiter by phone, we discussed my desire to re-enter the workforce after six years of not working while raising my four young children. We discussed my rehab and case management background. The nurse was encouraging and although she let me know they had no jobs open at that time, she encouraged me to send my resume. Two months later I was called for an interview, and I have been working at Burke for about three months.
My advice is to stay positive. Remember why you went into nursing and remind yourself why someone should hire you. In my case, my nursing skills were rusty but I was eager and not afraid to jump back in with the help and support from a good orientation. Most importantly, let your interviewer know you are a team player. Nursing is about clinical and interpersonal skills. I also would recommend reaching out to a recruiter by phone. Most Web sites direct you to apply online but there is no connection to the resume. In addition, attending open houses is a great way to get some face time with nurse recruiters and nurse managers.
My greatest obstacle in the job hunt process was being able to show I was not afraid of learning new things and that I welcomed new technology despite being out of nursing for quite sometime. Thankfully, Burke has given me the chance, and the nurse educators and preceptors have been wonderful.
Margaret Gallagher, RN, BSN, CEN, Emergency Department, Saint Francis Hospital and Health Centers, Poughkeepsie, N.Y.
I found my current position through networking at the Emergency Nurses Association. For anyone who is looking for a job, I would recommend you join an organization that represents your specialty and go to meetings. Get to know the people there. Put yourself out there and network, network, network. Try not to burn bridges during your career because you never know who will help you or hinder you in the future.
In my job search, I was hampered by my need to stay local. I had burned some bridges in my career and that limited my choices of hospitals in the area. I also needed to hone my interview skills; it had been a long time since I had gone through the interview process. You have to learn how to market your best qualities in a short period of time.