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New Nurses Face Competitive Job Market

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New Nurses Face Competitive Job Market

Elizabeth Rodil, Staff Writer

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With the increase in nursing graduates and employers’ reluctance to train new graduates, recent graduates have a challenging time seeking employment after they pass the NCLEX exam, the national board examination. Students who study nursing believe it is an auspicious career to start fresh out of college.

Recent nursing graduates are eager to start working, but some graduates have found that the field is stable only if you have enough experience or connections, and you are able to prove your worth.

Nursing is a tough, yet rewarding career. Nurses deal with blood, diseases, infections and occasionally death. It takes a specific type of personality to want to surround themselves in an urgent environment. One hopes nurses do it mainly for the love of the career and their patients.

The common reasons students give for pursuing a career in nursing are: high starting pay, opportunities for advancement, industry growth and a passion for helping others. And a number of factors, including an increased emphasis on preventative care; growing rates of chronic conditions, such as diabetes and obesity; and demand for health care services from the baby boomer population, as they live longer and more active lives, mean the field is growing rapidly.

Students enroll at National University every month. Admissions advisors are directed to ask students why they want to pursue a specific program to ensure the student’s goals are aligned with their program of choice.

Carole Duffis, manager of National’s Long Beach Online Information Center, most students enrolling in nursing are motivated by the promise of high pay.

Registered nurses earn a median wage of $31 an hour, and licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) average $20 per hour, compared to $14 to $18 on average for graduates in other fields, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Nursing programs have become popular because of the high average pay and the stability of the health care field according to Duffis.

Duffis says that many prospective nursing candidates want to work in the health field but are familiar only with nursing, so she informs students about other programs such as the BS in Public Health or the Master of Healthcare Administration where they can learn about leadership, health laws and global prevention.

Nicole Martinez, an advisor at National’s Long Beach center, says that nurses come back to advance on the career ladder. A handful of the prospective nursing students she interviews are already working as a medical assistant or licensed vocational nurse and want to go back to school to become a registered nurse.

Registered nurses have more leadership roles in all aspects of the medical realm than their lesser trained coworkers. The more education nurses receive, the better opportunities to grow within the field.

Both Duffis and Martinez claim that few students are passionate about the field itself. Students hear about the benefits of nursing and think it is a great career, but Duffis said they may not understand how demanding nursing is.

Some students take nursing prerequisites and then realize nursing is not for them—which is good to learn early. Others still, will pursue it with different intentions Duffis said.

Nursing students should be wary. Although nursing is the fastest growing field in the United States, first time employment is not necessarily easy to land and new nurses have lots of competition. According to National Council of State Boards 51,091 passed the NCLEX exam and became registered nurses in 2015.

Over the years the number of nursing schools has increased, and they are packed. Schools are even marketing nursing programs on TV, billboards, newspapers, magazines and in almost every media outlet. What they do not show are the realities of trying to make it in the field.

Dr. Mona Karimpour teaches a psychiatric course to licensed vocational nurses at Advanced College, a vocational trade school in greater Los Angeles. One of the reasons why new nurses are having difficulty finding their first job is because they are competing with more fellow graduates.

“The more vocational trade schools opening, the more graduates … The more graduates, the more competitive it is to get a job,” Karimpour said.

The registered nurse and licensed nurse fields are expected to grow 19 percent by 2022, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. While that figure is high, the chance of landing a good nursing job right out of school seems lower.

Murielle Daksla, a registered nurse at Downey Care Center, worked her way up. She started as a 15-year-old volunteer, then became a receptionist and next a social services assistant. Once she finished school and became a registered nurse, it took her a year with the same facility to get her first nursing position. Daksla said she considered looking at nursing jobs outside the United States.

Chanelle Galbraith, currently a licensed vocational nurse at Kaiser Permanente, says it took her six months to gain employment as a medical assistant in a private practice—not the role she wanted. Galbraith said the practice viewed it as a liability if they hired her as a new nurse. Galbraith was promoted to licensed vocational nurse after three months.

James MacLennan is a new nursing graduate recently hired for a non-nursing position at a senior living facility. MacLennan says his employer plans to cross train him as a liaison and nurse in October and that he will then be eligible for promotion.

Donna Henderson, executive director and CEO of Covenant Care, said that new graduates do not get hired often because they lack multidisciplinary training and have only a social service background.

Nurses need to understand time management. They need to learn how to administer medications accurately and effectively, talk to patients’ relatives and friends, document properly and report to their supervisor all in a span of the prescribed time according to Henderson.

Henderson says she and most of her colleagues do not hire new graduate nurses because they do not have the time to train them. They would rather hire someone who already has hands-on experience and knows how to deal with different aspects of the work.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics website stipulates that the outlook for nurses is favorable, but the growing popularity of the career begs the question of whether supply could outpace demand in the near future.

Nursing students have a growing job market and high incomes to anticipate, but the experience of those already in the industry suggests that they may need to be patient and rely on their passion for helping others to bolster them while waiting for their incomes and titles to catch up with their expectations.

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New Nurses Face Competitive Job Market