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What else can a new BSN graduate with nurse volunteer experience and an unpaid LTC internship do to find a job?


Dear Donna,

I am a new BSN. I earned my RN license in 2011, and wasted a year searching for job. Then I decided to pursue my BSN and graduated August 2014.

While I was attending classes, I volunteered in hospitals, completed an unpaid internship in long-term-care and visiting nurse service. I continue to volunteer there. All I have got from them is recognition letters, but nothing that could lead to a career opportunity. I have been applying all over New York City. To my surprise none of the extra effort I put is being considered. Different facilities and agencies have requested paid professional experiences only.

I also am a single mother of a 5-year-old boy, and I’m running out of ideas.

Frustrated New Nurse

Dear Donna replies:

Dear Frustrated New Nurse,

You don’t mention what types of employers you are applying to, but one of the most important things you need to know is the job market for nurses is completely shifting. Every nurse, both new and experienced, must look in new directions for employment and must learn and use new methods to find and get those jobs. Read “New nurse, new job strategies” ( for a better sense of how to go about looking for a nursing job.

Volunteer work is not meant to be a substitute for paid experience from a prospective employer’s viewpoint, but it does show them you have not been idle.

And it does often lead to paid employment even if it hasn’t happened for you yet. It is still very important for you to continue to volunteer while you seek paid employment.
While the LTC and visiting nurse service you interned at didn’t hire you, did you ask for help from those you worked with on getting a nursing job there or advice on what you might need to do to be considered for a paid position there?

Contact some nursing agencies that do non-hospital placement. They often have part- time and temp jobs for nurses giving flu shots, working in clinics, substitute school nurse work and more. This can help you earn some money in the interim and accumulate some paid experience. Temp work often leads to regular employment too. But be sure to find a non-traditional (non-hospital) placement agency.

I’m at a disadvantage in advising you because I don’t know what your resume or cover letter looks like, how you present yourself in person or what your communication skills are like. Sometimes our marketing tools and self-presentation need to be improved upon before we get hired. For help, you may need to find a nurse career coach and/or mentor. Read “In search of the right mentor” ( To find a coach, do an Internet search for the term “Nurse coach.” You can also see if your college offers any career services you could use.

Are you getting out to nursing association meetings such as a local chapter of the American Nurses Association ( and/or the American Academy of Ambulatory Care Nurses ( even as a guest if not a member? Have you had business cards made for yourself? Are you on the telephone everyday making calls to everyone in your circle, both in and out of healthcare asking for leads, introductions and recommendations? I’m sure you’ve heard me say networking is the most effective way to find job openings and get hired, but you have to work at it.

I strongly recommend you attend my Career Alternatives for Nurses seminar in New Jersey or New York ( You will learn about self-marketing, networking, job trends and get very specific ways and places to find work, including companies and contacts.

When what you’re doing isn’t working, it’s time to try a new approach. Applying online to hospitals is an effort in futility right now. Look more toward outpatient and ambulatory opportunities, do more networking and seek the help and support of a coach or mentor.

Best wishes.

By | 2015-01-08T00:00:00-05:00 January 8th, 2015|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

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