I graduated (officially, with the fancy piece of paper) from nursing school on June 19th, 2015 – and a lot has changed since then.
The media talked about a nursing shortage before I applied for nursing school, and they talked about a nursing shortage while I was in nursing school, as well as talking about a nursing shortage after I had graduated from nursing school. And there is one – just not for new graduates.
There’s a nursing shortage for specialty trained nurses (perioperative/OR nurses being the big one) – but not for newly minted Registered Nurses who don’t have any real nursing work experience. I started applying for jobs probably around mid-February to mid-March in 2015. I didn’t get my first interview until August 25th – which I failed miserably at because I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t get my second interview until September 25th – which I rocked because I did know what to expect. My official hire date was October 19th, 2015.
It took what felt to me to be a really long time to get a job. In reality, it was 199 days from graduation to the first day that I was getting paid as a nurse (orientation).
It was a very long 199 days.
Luckily for me I lived at home (rent free – still do!) with my parents, who don’t expect me to contribute to room and board. I knew someone who was looking for temporary help and I wound up with a temp job for 4 weeks, which really helped with the perpetually dwindling bank account. Prior to starting the temp job, I had less than $200 left in my bank account. Every time I had to take the bus, or pay for anything, I’d be thinking to myself if I really needed X, Y, or Z because I really didn’t have that much money at all. Being that broke really sucked and I greatly appreciated the fact that I live at home rent free.
I paid off my student loans (I had $0 in loans from my first degree, a BSc that I graduated with in 2012, and a little under $16k from my BSN) by January 2016. I paid off $8k with a bursary I received from school, and I borrowed the rest from my sister so I wouldn’t accrue interest on my debt – by January I had paid off the Bank of Sister.
In March 2016 I bought my very first car. It makes life so much easier in terms of getting to and from work (10-15 minutes driving versus anywhere from 40 minutes to 1.5 hours of public transit). Aside from my car (which I love, because car), I have no other debt.
Since November 2015, I’ve been working as a casual employee. This means I do not get medical or dental benefits, I do not get pension, and I do not get paid vacation. This also means that I do not have a set schedule, I get a lot of short calls for shifts and occasionally I do get shifts in advance so I’m not always scrambling to get ready for work and have developed a routine of prepping meals that get put into the freezer because I just never know when I’m going to be working next. I work all shifts, of varying lengths (8 hour or 12 hour shifts).
I started applying for full time and part time positions in May because not enough people were taking vacation (or calling in sick)! As a casual and being not that high on the seniority list, it meant that I did not get a lot of prebooked shifts in May. It’s stressful when you don’t know yet when you might work again. It’s also stressful to always be ‘ready’ to work because it means you may have to cancel plans last minute. I had an interview on May 25th for a permanent position, and I found out on May 31st that I got it! I accepted the offer. It took me seven months and twelve days to go from my first day of orientation to getting a permanent job offer.
I started two days ago, on June 17th – my first day of orientation. Tomorrow (June 20th) until Thursday will be my four orientation shifts. Hitting the ground running.
In the 366 days from graduating with my BSN, I went from unemployed and broke to casually employed to hitting milestones that others have reached long before I had (e.g. buying a first car!) to getting a permanent nursing position, complete with benefits and pension. I’m incredibly excited to see where the next year of nursing will take me!