What happens if you don’t like your first nursing job?
As a new graduate nurse, finding your first job is an arduous experience. The pressure is on to find the “perfect” job, your dream job. But sometimes due to circumstances out of your control, you may find yourself working in a not-so-perfect atmosphere, which was exactly what happened to me in my first job. The geographic location in which I could work was somewhat limited due to my husband being in the Marine Corps so the hospital choices for me were few and far between. I had to make the best out of what I was given, and ultimately I have found myself in an amazing job. My second job.
Don’t get me wrong- I did not land my first job in an awful hospital. In fact, I am now extremely thankful for the opportunity I had at that first hospital because I feel I grew in maturity as well as confidence as a nurse. As a new grad I was excited, eager, proud, and motivated to begin my career as a nurse, yet those sentiments were not reflected in the attitudes of the other nurses in the unit I was working. For that reason I quickly felt discouraged and deflated (again, another reason why working in a healthy work environment is so important- see my previous post!). After about 3 months, I knew I was not going to be happy long-term in my first job- mainly due to the work environment. I realized that instead of sacrificing my happiness, I needed to take a scary step forward and stand up for what I deserved as a nurse, which is a mindset that I still have today.
The next question I asked myself was, “how long before I look for my second job?” knowing that this would be an important topic of discussion with future employers. I decided to start looking for a new job at 7 months experience with my first job. My reasoning was that I was able to give enough time at my first job to truly make a rational educated decision, and I also wanted to respect the investment of the hospital in training me. However, I also had to think about my own personal happiness, which is why I started looking at my 7-month mark, rather than after 1 year. Luckily, I found a NICU nurse residency program at another larger, local hospital. I carefully crafted my resume and cover letter to reflect why I was leaving my current job, while at the same time respecting the hospital that I was fortunate enough to start my nursing career. I applied and had an advantage in the application process since I had “prior experience,” although just 7 months. A week later I had an interview and subsequently was offered the job. Because of my 7 months experience at my first job, I started my second job in a Level III NICU with more confidence than I would have as a new graduate, and for that I am thankful.
My advice to you if you find yourself in a similar situation is to not get discouraged. If it turns out that your first hospital isn’t a great fit, that’s okay- do your research and look at your other options. There are always options available to you, no matter how daunting it may seem. Try to make the best of it while you are working your not-so-dreamy job, while in the meantime still job hunting. Don’t get caught up in the negativity, and most importantly don’t forget to remain respectful and gracious as you are making your exit to bigger and better things.