As I reflect on the early days of my nursing career, I remember the anxiety and indirection I felt stepping into the world of nursing. There were so many different specialties and directions I could go in. Prior to graduating, I already had several steps in place to assist with the job hunt.
Fall semester of my senior year in college, I decided to trade in my server apron for green scrubs. I wanted to expand as many skills as I could before graduating. While being a hostess/server/busser in a restaurant in my hometown was an excellent first job that gave me tons of multi-tasking and memory skills, I needed to dive into nursing. I applied for several jobs as a Skilled Nurse Assistant (SNA) within the Columbus area. Through the interview process, I got to shadow a lot and see which fields I liked and which ones I wasn’t particularly fond of.
It was during this job search that I discovered an excellent opportunity. There were Safety Coaches, who sat with patients to ensure their safety, and SNAs, who assisted with daily cares. This position was an “SNA/sitter”, a combination of the two. I was excited because clinicals and STNA certification had given me experience with daily activities and skills but being a sitter or Safety Coach would allow me a venue to utilize therapeutic communication and de-escalation skills. These were stills we didn’t get to use often in the busy clinical setting. I jumped on the opportunity.
I maintained this position throughout my senior year. Around March of my senior year in nursing school, I began applying for RN positions. I made a big list of areas that I liked from clinicals and areas I couldn’t see myself working. I knew I wanted to work inpatient so I could further improve my clinical skills. The age demographics I preferred were babies and adults. I absolutely loved my post-partum clinical- I could sit and rock babies all day! I worried that I might disservice myself by going into such a specialist area right after graduation. I decided to stick with adults. I then became aware of a new opportunity within my very own department. There was a pilot plan of sorts to introduce new grad nurses to the Critical Care Nursing Float Pool. If I had learned one thing about myself by then, it was that I learn best by diving head first. As I thought about it, I became more enthusiastic about it. There would be so many new skills to learn and master! I would be able to compile endless information in my mind about the new medications, diseases, and treatments. I applied.
I knew there would be a lot of applicants for the position, so I made sure I had two or three backup plans in place. I applied and interviewed for positions in the CVICU at Cleveland Clinic, the Critical Care Fellowship at Riverside, and many more.
On graduation day, I got the phone call that I had been accepted as one of the two first new grads in the Critical Care Float Pool. I accepted the offer and I’ve never turned back!
In summary, get experience. Find out what your passions are. Pursue your goals but have a backup plan. You got this!
Kate Best is a 2015 graduate of The Ohio State University College of Nursing.