2 simple things to finding the perfect nursing job

Over the years I’ve had many nurses ask a repeated question:

“How do I know this is the best job for me?”

We all enter this profession bright-eyed and bushy-tailed thinking we’re going to change the world. Then we crawl through nursing school and realize it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. There are some mean and nasty nurses out there that just want to see the world burn.

I don’t know about you but that first (or next) job prospect is a doozy. We have no idea what we want, don’t want, need, don’t need. We base our decisions on past experiences (nurse & non-nurse related), suggestions from our peers and good ole’ fashion personal inquiry. There is no shortage of people (nurses and non-nurses) trying to tell you what you should or should not do and what job you should or should not take.

“Do it for the money”

“The shifts are great, no nights!”

“Get your experience”

So many times we’ve heard horror stories about the job interview that was perfect, the unit director who was so nice and the staff who were so darn cool. Then you get through orientation and once the “honeymoon period” ends… sybil happens.

Yeah, it’s as if your co-workers have multiple personalities. The place goes from a happy carnival to a page right out of a horror movie. All of a sudden those mean and nasty nurses and coworkers that you heard about are swiping the same time clock as you. WTF.

How do you avoid this? How do you know if a job will “turn” on ya? There are two things that matter.

The first thing that matters the most when interviewing for a job is the job shadow. I mean a full-shift job shadow (if possible). Follow in the nurses footsteps – literally. And do it with multiple nurses on different shifts. Walk with them everywhere you can go. Wear a pair of scrubs. Follow the nurse when their patient goes to x-ray. Follow them down to CT scan. Follow them on lunch.

Observe them interacting with other nurses, with other non-nurses, with the providers, with the supervisors. Are there students, how do they treat the students? Talk to the students privately. How do they treat others? How do neighboring nursing units treat each other? Do you notice any cliques? Is there a lot of gossiping? Remember gossip is bullying. Gossip is passive aggressive behavior disguised in self-fulfilling humor. Laughing at the expense of another person is bullying. Period.

The second thing that matters with workplace dynamics is the staff mix. The experience level and age mix. How balanced is it? Do you have both young and aged nurses (yes I’m talking about how old they actually are)? Do you have new and seasoned nurses (to the nursing profession)? Do you have new and seasoned nurses (specific to the nursing unit of interest)?
If at all possible never work for a nursing unit that has:

• All younger aged nurses
• All older aged nurses
• All new nurses to the unit
• All nurses who’ve worked an entire career there.
• All new grads
• All seasoned nurses needing to retire

Notice a pattern above? Yes, all the extremes and no balance. They don’t deal with change well. Ever. And it’s one of the worst environments to grow as a professional. This place will teach you nothing. Well, it will teach you one thing, where not to work.

Find balance. Find balance and you’ll find a place to grow, a place to learn and a place you’ll want to work.

Until next time…


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The views and opinions expressed on this website and/or in the videos on this channel are that of myself and not of any educational institution. In compliance with HIPAA and to ensure patient privacy, all patient identifiers in all content have been deleted and/or altered. The views expressed on this website and/or in the videos on this channel are personal opinions only, not intended as medical advice. The information I present is for general knowledge purposes only.
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