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Employment Options for Nurses

Q. I have been a bedside nurse for over 25 years and love my career. Both of my daughters have also gone into nursing. What are the career options for us? I don’t think I’ll be bedside much longer and what do recent grads have to look forward to?

A. The outlook for all health care professionals is very good as long as you are open to working in many environments. Hospitals, nursing homes, home health and insurance companies are among the industries interested in speaking to nursing professionals and other health service providers. The OOH (Occupational Outlook Handbook) projects a 19 percent growth rate for nurses between 2012 and 2022 due to an increase in the interest in preventative care, an increase in chronic conditions and the baby boomers need for health care in the future.


I consulted Kathy Lind, Staffing Manger for Boston Children’s Hospital, to get more information on options for experienced nurses who may not want to stay bedside. “Nurses with significant experience who are ready to leave the bedside and who are not ready to retire have several options. There are roles that focus on care coordination or clinical documentation. These positions require the expertise of a seasoned nurse and can be great options for nurses looking to transition.”

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The market for new nursing graduates looking for bedside hospital nursing roles is highly competitive. More experienced nurses are staying in these roles longer and the number of new grad hires has decreased. Networking your way into these hospitals continues to be one of the best ways to connect and be the first to learn of available opportunities. Recent graduates should talk to faculty and alumni of their nursing programs to build a network and to build out LinkedIn contacts.

Lind comments, ”For recent graduates, it’s important to remember that you may not land your first choice as your first job. The best thing you can do is keep your options open and maintain a positive attitude. If you have the chance to speak with a recruiter or hiring manager, approach the conversation as an opportunity to build a professional relationship and ask if it’s OK to contact them occasionally for updates via email. You can keep them updated on the status of your boards and if you’ve accepted a position elsewhere.”

Your first job will most likely not be your last job. Many staffing managers would agree with Lind’s comment: “You may need to consider extending your job search beyond your initial clinical specialty and geographic preferences. The best thing you can do as a new graduate RN is to secure a position and gain one to two years of valuable experience. At that point you can begin to think about applying for that dream job!”