Landing Your Dream Nursing Job

When you entered nursing school, you most likely had visions of that perfect job dancing through your mind. Perhaps you envisioned working in a large hospital, working your way up to a managerial position. Maybe you envisioned being a lead nurse in a small family clinic.

Whatever it is you had pictured when you decided to become a nurse, there are a few things you need to know if you want to get that dream job.

Be Realistic

When you pictured yourself in your dream job, you probably pictured yourself being happy and satisfied with your work, getting along with all your coworkers and having a thriving personal life. Whatever kind of work you see yourself doing, you obviously want to be happy in doing it, right?

This is where it helps to be realistic. You should realize that the dream job is a job. The position, specialty, even location are things you can control. But you cannot control who you work with, what hours you are given, how you are treated by superiors, or how that job affects your work-life balance.

When you are looking for that dream position, be mindful of the things you cannot control and understand that you may need to make concessions. For example, if you find the ideal position in a large hospital where you will be able to work with a diverse base of patients in the ER where you will thrive with the chaos, but the hospital is in Chicago, and you hate cold weather, you’ll need to figure out what your priorities are. Can you live in a cold place if it means you’ll be working the dream job? There are lots of variables surrounding the “dream job” that you can’t control, so be realistic about what you envision and what you expect.

Stick with It

While it’s best to get off on the right foot with your career, you might end up in a position that just isn’t working for you as well as you had hoped. It can be tempting to make a break for it and search elsewhere for a better position. However, you should try to resist this temptation because you’ll then be contributing to a disastrous turnover rate.

Turnover is the rate at which employees leave a facility and need to be replaced. The turnover rates are incredibly high within the first year of working as a new grad. What this means is that you’re more likely to leave your first job within the first year of working there. This is usually because nurses have high expectations or haven’t thought through their job-seeking process. They then end up in a position that isn’t suitable for them.

Now, no one wants to work a job in which they are unhappy, but it’s a good idea to stick with it for at least a year. If you choose to leave earlier, you are subconsciously setting yourself up for constantly finding and leaving jobs that don’t fit your expectations 100%. As mentioned above, you’ll need to make some kind of concessions when finding a job, so don’t expect to find the perfect job right away.

You also want to send the right message to future employers. If your resume has a long list of positions you’ve held for less than a year each, your interviewer might see you as flight, disloyal, and unreliable. Keep in mind that hiring a new nurse is expensive – training costs, orientation, and benefits are costly for employers, so they want to make sure you’re worth it. If it looks like you won’t stick around very long, they may not want to invest in you as an employee.

Think About Your Ideal Demographic

Now that you know you’ll need to be realistic in your search and stick to what you choose for a good while, you now need to focus on what you want your specialty or facility to be like. Perhaps the easiest way to figure that out is by answering this question: What type of person do you enjoy working with, in regard to patients?

If you have a close relationship with your grandparents and get along well with the elderly, you might want to consider going into geriatrics. The gaining population is in desperate need of caring and dedicated nurses. If you have a special connection to children and love interacting with their cute and quirky personalities, your skills with kids will be highly valued as a pediatric nurse. Perhaps you lost someone to cancer and want to dedicate your work to help others who are suffering in the same way. Maybe you really enjoy teaching others what you have learned and have a way of helping people understand difficult concepts? Nursing education could even be a great path for you.

Shadow a Nurse

One of the best ways to get to know if a specialty, department, or demographic is the right place for you is to simply try it out. If you are looking for your first nursing position, try approaching managers or leaders in different departments and see if they have a great nurse you could shadow to see if you would be a good fit for that specialty. If you are already a working nurse and still looking for that dream job, ask your manager for a shift in a different department. You could also ask to be introduced to others in your fields of interest.

Working directly with a nurse in the area that you are considering will allow you to ask questions and get familiar with procedures. They’ll also be able to give you honest answers about how they feel working in the department. Consider asking them what their favorite and least favorite parts of the job are. This will give you a better view of what to expect and whether it’s a position that would suit you.

Final Thoughts

As you go about looking for that dream job using the suggestions above, be honest with yourself in what you truly want. Think of your tendencies, preferences, and skills to find your passion. Try to avoid following along with what friends think or where they will choose to work. Focus only on yourself and explore why certain jobs appeal to you. If you are honest with yourself and do your own thing, you will without a doubt be able to land that dream job!

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