3 ways to gain more nursing experience after you graduate

Recent nursing school graduate holds resume

3 ways to gain more nursing experience after you graduate

Once you’ve graduated, it might be an ideal time to gather more experience as you develop your career. It’s an exciting opportunity to build on what you’ve learned so far, interact with new people and learn more about the positions available. Jobs like the Clinical Nurse Leader may be a new option for you, and lead you to consider business and other professional skills as new supplements to the strong foundation you’ve built in nursing.
Try any of these suggestions to move further into nursing and add ever-important experience to your resume. Although your journey will be your own, these are useful, time-tested ways to start contributing.

1. Clinical experience, or ‘internships’

The internship is a logical step for many professionals, but in nursing, the equivalent is the required clinical experience. Either way, such experience may prove valuable as a gateway to possible full-time employment. Clinical work can flow naturally from student coursework and be a trial period for the very real work you’ll be doing later on, only with additional supervision. It can also come with these benefits.

  • Career focus: There’s more opportunity to focus on your specific discipline when you practice it in the field alongside others. At this formative part of your career, you could have the chance to experiment a little and find the ideal nursing specialty for your skill set. It might even be in a discipline you hadn’t considered up until this point.
  • Networking: A good, encouraging field placement will put you in contact with worthy professionals while also making you available for any openings. You’ll have fellow employees with their own set of experiences to draw from, which can help influence your own career path as well.
  • Realistic expectations: Being closer to the action in nursing could also help you know exactly what to expect when you enter the job market later. Salary and job expectations can depend on the specific sector you’re working in, and any other experienced professionals you talk to may also help give you a sense of what to expect.

While we’re on the subject, let’s look a little closer at the realities of modern nursing jobs. A 2016 report from the American Organization of Nurse Executives examined the role of the Clinical Nurse Leader as it played out in real life, based on the different positions throughout the United States.

According to this source, most of the organization’s 2,541 survey respondents said that their salary was as much as $150,000, with the actual percentage varying for different roles. Employees at academic institutions seemed to be especially strong in this ranking, with 68 percent of nurse leaders in that area saying they earn between $70,000 and $149,999. The largest single salary range was between $100,000 and $109,000, which 10 percent of respondents said they made.

That was far from the highest salary listed, as 7 percent said they made more than $250,000. On top of that, 47 percent said they find joy or meaning in their work, and 40 percent said they were “very satisfied” with their role. Clinical experience in a focused nursing role can be a means to learn what the norms are firsthand by getting to know the individual men and women already holding a coveted job.

2. Volunteering

Volunteer work is another way to get experience, but it can be flexible and open-ended compared to the other clinical trials. You could earn the exact experience you need for your future dream nursing job, and perhaps find under-utilized openings in medical centers near you.

There’s almost guaranteed to be some kind of volunteer work available wherever you are, and you might also find that it puts you in closer contact with patients. There can be a stronger, more immediate impact, making the work itself more rewarding and letting you understand what the patients you would end up working with at a given facility may be like.

The Institute for Volunteering Research released its own report in March 2016 about a UK health care volunteering initiative. This document looked at the results of a three-year program to involve volunteers in elder care at various sites. The entire scope of the project included 9,947 volunteer hours, reaching a peak of 1,765 hours between July and September in 2015.

The positives of the project extended to more than just the residents. True, this population did reportedly see social and emotional benefits, and 31 percent of care home staff reported that there was a positive impact in eating, life expectancy and sleeping. At the same time, the staff also reflected some of the advantages of this experience, with 71 percent noting a good impact on their stress levels as a result.

When you’re using your free time to research your online Master of Science in Nursing degree, this kind of accessible, immediately helpful experience can be deeply valuable.

3. Working with a mentor

As with volunteering, a mentorship can benefit you and the work environment- or new position – you want at the same time. An American Nurse Today piece recently listed several of the advantages of mentor programs, saying that they can help retention in different institutions. As someone considering advancement in your career, this can also show you the impact you can have right away when you take part in mentorship as a student.

For you, having a mentor can be immersive, letting you absorb the full reality of nursing through a skilled professional. Being there to check against the mentor can help him or her stay sharp, while you learn the details of this position, take in a variety of different types of input and have a good idea of what to expect going forward.

A mentor relationship can come from internship or volunteering, too, so it feels like yet another step forward. As an added bonus, you’ll have someone who can vouch for you and recommend you to other positions as your career continues, making it a kind of investment for your future.
Whatever path you take, you’ll eventually come to your first job itself. If you’ve tried to continue developing your experience, as said above, you can start off with a sense of commitment that shows how willing you are to pursue opportunities.

Doing this might also demonstrate that you have real world knowledge to match your degree, which mark an important combination that could make you more valuable on the job market. With some time in a real care facility under your belt, you might also be more ready to interact with facility staff and conduct yourself professionally.

In 2014, an American Nursing Association article outlined some of what recruiters can look for in nursing staff. One of these was the “desire to grow,” which included possible specialization or a sign that the candidate was forward-thinking.

If you’re interested in continuing to learn, consider the USF online MSN program as a way to keep developing your career. Using your experience and education together may make you a better candidate, so start researching your possible career options today!

Recommended Readings:

Nursing Program Accreditation Resources

Where can nurses with an MSN work?


















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