August 8, 2011

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Are we jeopardizing healthcare’s future by not hiring our new grads today?

August’s guest, Donna Cardillo, MA, RN, looks at how not hiring new graduate nurses now will create serious shortages later.

 You’re probably aware that many hospitals (and other healthcare facilities) across the country are not hiring new graduate nurses or are hiring very few. This has resulted in the newest members of our profession being forced to work in non-clinical settings right out of school, not finding any employment in health care for over a year after graduation, or leaving the profession entirely.  Hospitals cite that they do not have the funds, the personnel, or the desire to hire and train these new nurses. But, while as much as half of the current nursing workforce is poised to retire en masse and the healthcare system is increasingly stressed by the aging population, this trend will likely result in a catastrophic lack of experienced nurses over the next decade.   

To compound matters further, if a new nurse has been out of school for over a year, most hospitals will not place that nurse in its new graduate nurse orientation program, even if he or she does not have hospital experience. Additionally, it takes years for a new nurse to gain the valuable experience he or she needs to work independently, safely, and competently.  In other words, it takes a village, and time, to mold a newly minted nurse.

The impending nursing shortage is real and is predicted to be the worst one we have ever experienced. We had a similar situation in the 1990’s when hospitals were downsizing and laying off experienced nurses and not hiring new nurses. Then the need expanded and suddenly there weren’t enough experienced nurses to meet the demand. Patient care suffered. The next shortage will likely hit like a tsunami and where we all be then? We already know what happens when there aren’t enough experienced nurses at the bedside: mortality and morbidity rates soar.

What’s maddening to me (and even more so to new grads) is that many recruiters are telling these newbies that they must have one year’s nursing experience. This is confusing and frustrating to the new nurse. It’s better to just say that you are not hiring new nurses and leave it at that. And even though you may not want or need these nurses today, you will likely be begging them to come work for you in the not so distant future. So be kind, professional, and compassionate; they are your future workforce.
 
None of this is meant to imply that every nurse must start out in a hospital or even an in-patient setting because that simply isn’t the case. In fact, much care is rapidly shifting out of the hospital into the ambulatory and primary care setting and alternative in-patient settings. Some nurses entered the profession with the intent of working immediately in alternate areas such as public health, rehab and so on. Likewise, others and I are encouraging new grads to seek alternative work settings rather than stay unemployed. But that is easier said than done.

And for those of you who still think the problem lies in new nurses being too picky about shifts, specialties, and salaries, there are hordes of new nurses who would do just about anything for any type of nursing work on any shift, in any specialty, at any salary at this point in time. The new nurse job shortage is much more severe than many experienced nurses realize.

Healthcare/nursing administrators need to have a long-range plan for providing expert nurses at the bedside in years to come. You must prepare novice nurses to carry the torch when your current staff is ready to retire or move on. Each in-patient facility should commit to hiring a good number of new graduate nurses annually, support them in their professional development, and maintain a healthy balance of new and experienced staff nurses. New nurse orientation programs need to be extended to a two-year period of time post graduation. Facilities should consider offering fee-based refresher courses and internships for those who need or want them, regardless of how long it’s been since they’ve graduated. Otherwise, we will all pay the price in the future and the biggest loser will be the patients, who could be any of us or our loved ones.   

Donna Wilk Cardillo is the Career Guru for Nurses and “Dear Donna” columnist for Nursing Spectrum, NurseWeek, and www.nurse.com. Donna is also an ‘Expert’ Blogger at DoctorOz.com. She is author of The ULTIMATE Career Guide for Nurses, Your 1st Year as a Nurse, and A Daybook for Beginning Nurses.
Ms. Cardillo is creator of the Career Alternatives for Nurses® seminar
and home-study program. You can reach her at www.dcardillo.com.


36 thoughts on “Are we jeopardizing healthcare’s future by not hiring our new grads today?”

  1. Anonymous says:

    I also graduated with a BSN in May 2011 in new jersey. I have not been able to obtain a hospital job. I have been working as a nurse in non-clinical areas, but fear I will lose my skills. I am currently looking out of state for a job now.

  2. kelly new grad says:

    I read this article with tears in my eyes. I am so frustrated that I cannot find a job after spending two years becoming an RN. I am a compassionate person that really wants to help people. I would pretty much take any job at this point just to get some experience so that I could pursue what I set out to do which is Hospice.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I was accepted into an ADN program for the Fall of this year( 2012). But Im wondering if I should give up a fulltime decent paying job to pursue my life long dreams of becoming an RN, upon hearing that they won’t hire me as a need grad. What would you do?

  4. Anonymous says:

    As a nurse recruiter everything in this article rings so very true. We are a small facility and can only absorb a few new graduates each year as we do keep them in a program for a year. 1. Added education you can get after graduation that may help land the first job includes ACLS and Basic EKG course. 2. Consider small towns around your area. Some are in need of staff – others not so much but it is worth looking. 3. Volunteer in free clinics & network with other staff. You are the future!

  5. Sac CA New Grad says:

    I graduated in May 2011 and I am having the same problem as everyone else. It’s absolutely ridiculous that hospitals are providing their local new grads such limited opportunities (7 position with 400 applicants!) while hiring from out of state AND out of the country! (yet, they were happy to have us work hundreds of clinical hours during nursing school) I would actually work for FREE just to get RN experience!

  6. Andrea says:

    I went back to school in my 40’s (after raising my kids) to fulfill my life-long dream to be a RN. When I started my pre-req’s, the hospitals were shipping RN’s in from other countries and offering them bonuses for housing here in the Bay Area. I graduated this past June from a ADN program in Contra Costa County in California. I have applied to so many jobs that I lost count. Only “travelers” get jobs. More education guarantees nothing in this job market-many of my BSN friends can confirm this.

  7. sardoc says:

    I completely believe with what is published here. As with anything the best way to learn is from someone with more experience. Nurses are already short staffed. You look at how hard the job is going to be to train or preceptor a new nurse while taking on more Patients because 5 nurses just retired or moved on on one floor. I understand money is tight for Hospitals. Imagine how tight money is going to be when they are sued because they have a poor Nurse/Patient ratio and poorly trained staff

  8. sky says:

    New grads you are not the only ones not being hired. I have 8 years experience and have been looking for 3 years. I can’t employ myself, then HR says we need more recent experience. Is there some discrimination in hiring those over 30? i believe i sent out 200 resumes in different states.

  9. Paul says:

    Unfortunately this also reflects that hospitals have been burned in the past when they hire new grads, orient them and get them to a competent level incurring a great deal of expense only to have the new grad leave for greener pastures now that they have experience and are marketable. Unfortunately the new grads of today are paying for the follies of their predecessors. Nursing is generally not in control of hiring-it is HR and Finance who are the biggest barriers to getting a new job.

  10. Kim says:

    I passed the boards 2 months ago and have applied to nearly 40 positions with no luck. Meanwhile, many of the hospitals I am applying to have more than 50 open RN positions. What’s more, even the skilled nursing facilities are not hiring. Surely ensuring adequate staffing ratios both now in the future is something worth the scant resources available at present. I’ll also ask the question, “What is the ANA doing about this?”

  11. Anonymous says:

    I’ve been an RN for 30 yrs., and since relocating, have found that hospitals are hiring far less experienced nurses before they even inteview me. Age discrimination is alive and well!

  12. Mike says:

    What is the ANA doing about this problem? Has anyone proposed legislation to fund new grad programs? Isn’t that appropriate if there is a clear and present danger of huge staffing shortages? Why isn’t the ANA supporting new grad nurses?

  13. Anonymous says:

    I will always be grateful to the manager who hired me on my first unit. It was a med-surg unit and was very difficult. I learned a lot about wounds, tubes, drains, feeding tubes and medicating for severe pain. Although I did not stay on the unit, it was a good education, and I still benefit from that experience today – even though I have switched to psychiatric nursing. The work was hard and I was always exhausted, but I am better the experience, and my patients receive more holistic care.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Dear Donna,
    I thank you for saying the truth and thinking about us new grads. This has really been a tough time for us. I am a new grad since Jan. i passed the boards and cannot find a job. I have to work as an aide which is really frustrating. Sometimes i wonder if becoming a nurse was a good decision only god knows. I have applied in almost all the hospitals in my state (PA) to no avail. Some recruiters are nasty, they dont respond and the ones that respond tell you, you dont qualify

  15. Anonymous says:

    While it’s easy to say “nursing administrators should do this or that…” why not provide some concrete, realistic suggestions for action? Where is the money going to come from? To igonore current funding realities … to essentially stand outside and throw stones … without considering the view from the other side … is unfair and irresponsible. This is a complicated issue that won’t be helped by such superficial and inflamatory commentary.

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