New Grad RN Programs

August 10, 2019 Updated: December 29, 2021 7 min read

New Grad RN Programs

How do you land a position? What makes a good program?

In this video, Cathy takes a few minutes to talk about some very practical steps you can take to give yourself the best chance to get a position as a new grad RN.

She then talks about some specific things you should consider when you are looking at new grad RN programs.

Watch as Cathy discusses:

Getting ready to land the position

  1. Understand how competitive it is to get a new grad RN position in your area (city, state, etc).
  2. Get your foot in the door (intern/get a position, become an internal candidate)
  3. Bring your "A-game" during your clinical rounds.

How to evaluate potential new grad RN programs

  1. Length of the program?
  2. How long do you have with a preceptor?
  3. Are their courses and classes included in the new grad program?

Full Transcript

Okay. In this video, I am going to talk about how to land a new grad position, and I'm also going to talk about what to look for in different new grad positions when you are evaluating different programs. So the first step is really to understand how competitive it is in your particular area to get a new grad position. So if you're where I am, which is Southern California, it is extremely competitive to get this type of position. There are other parts of the country where hospital systems are more readily hiring new grad RNs and it may not be that competitive, or if you live in a competitive area but have the ability to move to a different city to get your new grad experience, then that also makes it a little easier for you. So let's say that you live in a competitive area, that it is difficult and competitive to get these new grad positions. I would really encourage you to either get your foot in the door as an employee at a hospital system or do an internship at a particular hospital system as a way of getting your foot in the door. So when I was in nursing school, I initially was working as a volunteer at a hospital and I was hoping that being a volunteer would help me get a new grad position after graduation. But I was told by multiple sources that being a volunteer, unfortunately, would not help me get such a position. However, if I was an employee at the hospital, this would make me an internal candidate and definitely give me an edge in terms of landing one of those new grad positions. So instead of being a volunteer, I actually put in for a transport position at my hospital and I worked part-time as a transporter while I was going to nursing school. So I'll be totally honest that this was not ideal. So I was in an accelerated bachelor's of nursing program and I was working part-time as a transporter and I had kids. So it was a lot. But when I got out of school and my hospital system was interviewing for new grad positions, they actually only opened it up for internal candidates for my round of hiring and did not even open up any positions for external candidates. So it really paid off. It was really hard during nursing school to juggle all of that, but it did effectively give me a foot in the door after graduation. I had other friends who did not-- they did not work for a hospital system, but they did an internship. So I had several classmates who did an internship at UCSD hospital, and this helped them to get their foot in the door after graduation from nursing school and they all landed new grad positions at that hospital. So, again, if you live in a competitive area, you might want to consider getting a part time job as a CNA or a PCA, which is a patient care assistant, or as a transporter. You can even work in the kitchen. As long as you're on payroll, then that makes you an internal candidate. And typically a lot of hospital systems give preference to internal candidates.

So the other advice I would give you is that if you are doing an internship or just with your clinical rounds at a hospital, I would really bring your A game when you're there, okay? So you want to make sure you are super helpful for your nurse, you are asking lots of questions, you are being super kind to the patient and doing everything you can to make them comfortable. You really want to be proactive and really just knock the socks off of the nurse that you're working with. So sometimes this won't be possible, right? We've all been paired with certain nurses who are not excited about having a nursing student working with them. And if that's the case during your week they're at the hospital, then that nurse is likely not going to help you kind of get your foot in the door. However, if you are paired with a super nice nurse who is really eager to teach and to help you learn, then definitely try to make that connection and really impress her with your A game. So I'll give you an example. When I was working-- so I'm a wound nurse at my hospital and I was taking care of a patient up on a particular floor and there was a volunteer there who was a nursing student and she came in to kind of observe and assist and she really just blew me away as far as that she was going to be an amazing nurse because she really anticipated what I would need and she would hand me things or go fetch things for me, she spoke to the patient in a really kind way, was super helpful, asked lots of questions, wasn't too pushy, but also wasn't too standoffish. She was really just perfect and just so nice to the patient and just a delight to work with. So I found out that she was applying for a PCA position at my hospital, which is a patient care assistant role, and I went and found the manager when I could later on that day to tell her that this particular student really knocked my socks off and that she would be an amazing PCA and eventually an amazing nurse. And sure enough, she got the position and then later on she got a new grad position because she was an internal candidate and she was also just a really good nurse. So, again, if you get the opportunity to really impress the people you work with at the hospital, then definitely do that. If you make a strong connection with a nurse, then ask the nurse if they would be willing to put in a good word for you if you're putting in-- if you're applying for a position at the hospital or if he or she would be willing to let you reach out to them with any questions or advice in the future. So I've had a number of nursing students come work with me at the hospital who have followed up in email and just asked my advice about different things. And I'm always happy to help when I can.

Okay. So now let's talk a little bit about what to look for in a new grad position. So if you have multiple new grad programs that you're looking at, it's really important to kind of look at the nitty-gritty as far as what the hospital system is going to provide to you as a new grad. So my new grad position was 40 weeks long. During those 40 weeks, I had a preceptor for about 13 weeks. And then also during those 40 weeks, I had a variety of classes and courses to help teach me different things. So I would have classes on diabetes, I'd have classes on wound care, I'd have classes on respiratory therapies. I mean, you name it, stroke. They gave us so many classes to help really educate us and build up our skills as nurses. And again, I had 13 weeks with a preceptor where I slowly took on more and more patients. The first day I was just shadowing. And then the second day I'd have one patient and then I might have one patient again and then two patients and then slowly until I got to four patients. So you just need to evaluate the program, find out how long it is, how long do you have with a preceptor before they set you free, and are there courses and classes included in the new grad program. So if you are looking at a hospital system and a new grad program that gives you a preceptor for two weeks and then they're like, "Go fly," that's kind of scary, right? There is so much to learn as a new grad and the stakes are really high. You don't want to make a mistake and you really want to make sure you're understanding all the procedures and policies and how to chart and how to be a safe, effective nurse. So two weeks with a preceptor is not enough time. So if one of the programs you're evaluating, if that's the case, I'd really be looking at other programs if you can, because you want to protect your license, you want to learn, and you want to be a safe and effective nurse. So at my hospital system, which is Scripps Health, I had a great experience and got lots of training. So I'm forever grateful for that. But I did have friends who were in different hospital systems where they did not have as much training or as much time with a preceptor. So definitely look into that.

So that's it for this video. I hope some of those tips and suggestions have been helpful. Again, the first step is looking at the competitiveness of your geographic area and figuring out how hard and how proactive you need to be in lining up a part-time job or something before you graduate so that you can be that internal candidate, okay? So best of luck to you in school and with studying and I'm here for you, so take care.


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