Plight of the New Grad
by, 05-20-2010 at 08:05 PM (6424 Views)
The Plight of the New Graduate
We sought them out and urged them on — high school and grammar school students, young and middle-aged adults searching for a meaningful second career. We told men and boys that nursing was cool, a great career choice filled with adventure and challenge. And they enrolled in schools of nursing in record numbers in the last few years.
Then, the economy went south. They graduated and started applying for positions. All too often, I’ve heard that no one responded to their emailed applications and phone calls, and if they did hear back, the message was the same — we’re not hiring new graduates right now.
I’ve met these discouraged men and women at career fairs and other events — the young mother of two small children who chose a profession she loved, hoping to better her own life and provide financial stability for her family. The bright 30-something microbiologist who decided on a second career in nursing after spending weeks at the bedside of his terminally ill father, watching nurses provide expert care.
Four or five years ago facing a projected critical shortage of nurses in the near future, we were thrilled to see the numbers of enrollees in nursing programs climb dramatically. We praised Johnson & Johnson’s superb campaign showcasing the competence and compassion of nurses. Those who heeded the call did “discover nursing,” but now they are discovering unemployment. A colleague recently told me that 40% of 2010 nursing graduates in her state would not find a nursing position.
We all know that the nursing shortage still looms on the horizon, but do we truly understand that we cannot afford to lose the graduates of 2007, ‘08, ‘09, and ’10? If they aren’t able to practice they’ll lose their newly gained skills, and I expect the unapplied knowledge will start to slip away. Moreover, history tells us that if new nurses can’t find a job within one year of graduation, they very likely will leave the profession and not return in the future.
I know that nurse leaders in academia and practice have created programs to provide clinical experience for new graduates when positions are unavailable, but to the best of my knowledge, these are few and far between. And yes, some facilities are hiring new grads and offering internships and residency programs, but the applicants far exceed the openings.
These new RNs are our future caregivers and the future caregivers of the country’s population that’s aging right alongside us. I believe that we are obligated as fellow professionals to do something and do it now. I would like to hear from you. What are your facilities doing to ease the plight of the jobless new graduate? What creative solutions can you offer? How can state and federal officials address this public health problem? Do they know it exists, and if not, what can we do to raise the hue and cry?
Please send comments to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.