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How can a 2011 BSN grad without a work history get a job in a hospital?

Dear Donna,

I received my RN, BSN, PHN, three years ago. At the same time, my father had a stroke. I stayed home for the better part of a year to care for him. He’s now doing well.

I went into electronic medical record work while looking for a new grad job in nursing. I am doing non-clinical outreach work that pays less than my family can live on. I don’t know how to break into the industry given that lack of the one- to two-year residency or work experience.

I don’t have time to volunteer as I have to commute to work, and although the nurses I work with would love to help, I am in an organization with hiring constraints. How can I get into hospital nursing?


Dear Desperate,

I understand that you want to work in a hospital in a bedside position. But the reality of the current job market may make it difficult as you have already discovered. Please read “New nurse, new job strategies” to understand the changing job market and what new nurses need to do and where they need to look to launch their careers.

I find it interesting that you have a public health nurse credential. Have you considered pursuing work in that specialty? At the very least, I would contact the public health nurse(s) in your city, county and state. Do an informational interviews with them. This is a great way to expand your professional network and learn about job opportunities. Read “The scoop on informational interviews,” which explains how to conduct this type of interview.

The job market is shifting again and there may be a real shortage of nurses in a few years as older nurses retire. When that happens, you may be able to take a refresher course and find a hospital job. A refresher course will not help you right now unless a hospital specifically requests you to do so.

For the record, you are currently working in the specialty of nursing informatics. Many nurse informaticists are making a very good salary, above what many other nurses earn. So don’t rule it out as a career path. You can parlay your EMR experience into a higher-paid position with a different company.

Be sure to get out to local chapter meetings, as a guest for now, of the American Nurses Association and/or the American Academy of Ambulatory Care Nurses. Networking is known to be a very effective way to find opportunities and get interviews. When there’s something you want to do, it makes sense to rub elbows with those currently doing it.

Best wishes,

By | 2020-04-15T16:05:37-04:00 July 13th, 2015|Categories: Blogs, Nursing careers and jobs|1 Comment

About the Author:

Donna Cardillo
Donna Cardillo, RN, MA, CSP, is president of Known as The Inspiration Nurse, she is a keynote speaker, retreat and seminar leader, and author of "Your First Year as a Nurse: Making the Transition from Total Novice to Successful Professional" and "The ULTIMATE Career Guide for Nurses: Practical Advice for Thriving at Every Stage of Your Career." She brings more than 25 years of clinical, management and business experience to her role as career guru.

One Comment

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    Melissa Barthold July 20, 2015 at 9:14 pm - Reply

    Nursing informatics is a rapidly growing specialty, with more needed as the field continues to grow. Being able to tie the clinical practice with informatics to help IT staff understand nursing workflows is a major contribution to an institution’s electronic health record.
    There are organizations – such as Health Information Management Systems Society (HIMSS and the American Medical Informatics Association ( – that have active nursing groups. Both offer education in nursing/clinical informatics as part of the benefits of membership. In addition — the networking benefits are wonderful!!! These are great places to learn about informatics and look for a position in informatics. Donna is correct: salaries are much higher than staff nursing. Information on nursing informatics salaries can be found at:

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