Monday, February 16, 2009

Portrait: The Bronx, New York

I live in the Bronx, but I think my portrait represents all of NYC. I graduated from community college last May with my Associates in Applied Science, Nursing. I passed my boards at the end of the summer and am finally a licensed RN. During the fall I resigned from the job that I had during school because I had some medical issues to deal with. I wanted to focus on fully recovering so that I could be 100% ready to start my nursing career in the new year. While I was home I sent out resumes, emailed hospitals, recruiters and posted my resume online. I've also signed up with multiple medical staffing agencies, but most of them require 1 year of clinical experience. I got a call back from a hospital, but unfortunately did not get the job. I'm sure there were hundreds of applicants. I've received a couple of reply emails from hospitals/recruiters that tell me they're having a hiring freeze. And the hospitals that are hiring are only hiring experienced nurses and those with Bachelor degrees. A couple of my friends have been able to find jobs. Most of them were able to get them last summer right after school. Unfortunately, I was not able to plan that way because there were other things I needed to deal with.

I think there are many reasons nursing grads are having a problem finding a job right now. There are medical facilities that discriminate against Associate degree nursing grads because we do not have the 4 year degree. I took the same licensing exam they did and I did really well on it. So they are better than me because they took a couple of more classes than me? I worked full time for 4 years while going to school on nights and weekends. I'm very determined, but I guess there are those that don't get that when they see my 2yr degree. And the yearly salary differential between an 2 yr degree nurse and a 4 yr degree nurse is around $1,000 - $2,000. Not a big difference.

Another reason is that the hospitals do not have the money that it takes to conduct orientations for new nursing grads. Depending on the unit you are on, a newly graduated nurse will go through an orientation and shadow a nurse. This costs money. Money the hospitals do not have. So even though there are units that are understaffed, newly graduated nurses are not being hired. Instead, most hospitals get experienced nurses from medical staffing agencies that will fill a void for a couple of months or whatever the need may be.

It was recently announced that two hospitals in Queens, NY will be closing because the company that owns them has gone bankrupt. So now all of those nurses will be looking for work along with the thousands of nursing grads that graudate throughout the year, and the thousands of unemployed nurses. I know many people in my same situation. A friend told me that a recruiter recently told her she had 1,000 resumes for just a couple of positions. There's a website called allnurses(dot)com where nursing students, nurses, etc. can go and write on message boards about all kinds of topics. I've read so many stories from all over the country that are so similar to mine.

I live with my parents and help them with our living expenses. I'm very grateful for having them because they were there for me when I was home recuperating. I saved money while I was working so that I would still be able to pay them rent while I was unemployed. I stopped working in October and my funds ended in the beginning of February. I felt really bad that I still did not have a job and that I was not able to keep helping them. I decided to file my federal taxes early just so that I had some extra cash and help them out. I received a phone call from a recruiter that suggested I move to a couple of states in the MidWest. I am not able to do that. I help my family and they need me here.

My dream since I was little was to be a nurse. This is all I have ever wanted to do. I worked very hard to get here, but now I feel like I'm stuck in mud. I've been trying to stay positive and believe that the right job for me will come. But I do have my bad days when I just want to yell until the windows break from the frustration. And then I remember that I do have an apartment to go to, family to help me, food, and a warm bed at night. Unfortunately, there are MANY out there that are doing far worse than me. I pray for them. There is not much that I can do to better the economy. I just hope that those that can make a difference will do what is in the best interest of ALL of the people in this country. A girl can dream, can't she?

The Bronx, New York