Nurses Are Talking About: Jobs for New Grads

Laura A. Stokowski, RN, MS


December 12, 2011

In This Article

Editor's Note:

The following article is a compilation of the thoughts and opinions expressed by Medscape readers of the article "Looking Out for Our New Nurse Grads." Not every comment posted on Medscape is included here, and some comments were abbreviated and/or edited for clarity.

The Big Lie?

Without a doubt, the main source of frustration experienced by recently graduated and licensed but still unemployed nurses is what could be called "the big lie."In other words, the television commercials that encourage young people to become nurses -- and then abandon them for months (or years) without employment; and the educators who tell them that the associate's degree is perfectly adequate to guarantee employment, that they will have their pick of jobs when they graduate, and that there is plenty of time to get a BSN later on. Who knows whether it is greed, ignorance, or wishful thinking that underlies the fairy tales told to nursing students about their future job prospects? Whatever the motivation, the disillusionment of our new grads is palpable. The jobs they expected after all of their hard work just haven't materialized, and some grads are getting pretty desperate.

Will Work for Experience

The strongest motivator for the working population is money, but for some newly licensed registered nurses, getting valuable clinical experience seems to be taking precedence over the paycheck. Without that experience, the financial future of these nurses will remain precarious because they will be unable to find jobs.

"I am willing to take a 50% pay cut or even work for free so I can get the darned experience," said one frustrated new graduate who has been unable to break out of the unending cycle of "no job without experience, and no experience without a job."

She was not alone. Other readers wrote:

"I would be more than willing to work for a lower rate of pay or even for free to get that experience. It is so frustrating. I am willing to work any day, any shift."

"I offered to work for nothing for a short period and a reduced wage after that in the hospital where I had my externship. They won't take me for free."

However, another Medscape reader cautioned these nurses against such a rash decision:

"Work for free if you want, but that will only send a message that you will work for minimum wage, a message hospital administrators, Republicans, and Wall Street would love to hear."

Why have employers backed off from hiring new graduates? Although the reasons may vary, we have to assume that the number-one reason is financial. It is expensive to train a new graduate, so if only a few positions are open, they are filled with experienced nurses. So perhaps the question should be, do hospitals have an obligation to hire new graduates? Hospitals depend on a pipeline of nurses who are ready to step into jobs when the hospital needs them, to cope with peaks and valleys in census and acuity. If hospitals refuse to hire new graduates in times of oversupply, the pipeline will slow and the new graduates won't be there when they are needed.

A new grad reflected on the shortsightedness of hospitals that fill their available positions primarily with experienced nurses:

"Why do hospitals think they are entitled to hire only experienced nurses? No other industry expects to only get experienced workers. Other industries grow their talent but I guess that is asking too much for healthcare in the name of cost savings."

Without steady paychecks, student loans won't be repaid, and this could make loans harder to get for prospective nursing students. "I have had my license for a year today," complained one new graduate, "and have had a whopping 3 interviews. Tell Wells Fargo when they want my student loan money: Sorry, no experience, no job, no money."


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