It’s the beginning of the second semester of your last year of nursing school. You are trying to be proactive and line yourself up with your ideal medical institution. Let’s be honest here, as a new grad you have huge hopes and dreams and you desperately want that position at your university hospital. That’s where all the good cases go, that’s where all the excitement is, but you didn’t get into the residency program. You are disappointed, but there are plenty of hospitals nearby. You are bound to get into one of them, right?
Let’s fast forward; as much as the economy claims for a nursing shortage, the nursing managers you have been in contact with tell you that the market is saturated, and to re-apply once you have more experience. What is a new grad to do?! It’s frustrating and disheartening! Some of your classmates had their positions set up before even passing the NCLEX. So, you look outside of your area, and, before you know it, you’re applying to facilities in California from your local Starbucks in New Hampshire.
Well, you got the job! Congratulations! But there are now all new obstacles you never considered because you thought you would be in your hometown, or close to where you went to school and did your clinical rotations. The following are some tips and reminders for those who are venturing out of their comfort zone.
Your license status per your home state will determine the level of difficulty you will have applying for licensure in another state. Some will require you to mail a request form to your current board of nursing, so they can send the information about the status of your license (i.e suspensions, pending lawsuits, board reviews etc.) to the state board you will be employed in. This can be a painful step. My suggestion is mailing your request form via certified mail so you can track when it gets to your board, and then follow up with them in a couple days. Your questions will help you gauge when it will arrive to your new state board. Other things to consider are if they require fingerprinting to be mailed as well as additional certifications. Remember all these things add up, financially.
- Where to live
It’s a good idea to check out area and reviews online. It will help you get a feel for what you like, what’s in your budget, and how much you may want to stretch that budget once you see what you would like to be able to afford. Pro tip: if you have pre-employment screenings you have to be there for, go with someone whose opinion you value (I brought my all-knowing mother) and stay for an extra day (if feasible) and look around the areas you like. Things look different in person and you don’t want to have made a deposit and signed a lease in haste because you were just so excited to finally be employed, only to hate it when you move in!
When considering transportation think about where you will be moving to. Is it a big city with a well developed infrastructure, or more of a suburban community with limited subway access? Even if you plan on living within walking distance of the hospital, what else is around? Will you be able to survive without a car? Are you driving a U-haul to your destination, or flying and making all of your large purchases when you get there? Should your car unexpectedly not start one morning can you still make it to work on time? Trust me that last one will happen sooner than later.
Everything you have to do will take a large amount of planning. You just graduated nursing school – you’re always organized anyway, right? What is your moving budget? How long can you sanely exist without furniture? These are the questions you need to have answers for, because once you start you really do hit the ground running. And it won’t be a Usain Bolt Olympic sprinter run, you will look like Bambi, awkward and unsure.
- Don’t listen to everyone, and keep an open mind
Some of your friends and family will have doubts. Your grandma will ask why you couldn’t find a job close to home, your dad may cry, and your mom will just be excited that you are finally leaving the house. You can’t let any of that deter you. You are moving to a new place, maybe you know absolutely no one, but you are doing this for you and your career. Be aware, once you get there you may ask yourself once a week why did you do this? But , you will survive. Remember that you make the most out of any experience and it won’t be positive unless you are.
- Surprises will happen
Things will not go your way. You may love your preceptor or secretly think they’re the devil. You may be friendless and alone for a while, but everything has an adjustment period. There are things you won’t be able to see coming, and you may be living paycheck to paycheck for a little while. This is an exciting time and experience. You are young and able, scared and alone, excited and curious. You were brave and took a chance on yourself, good for you! Some people can’t do what you are about to do. Stay positive and eager to learn. That’s all you need.