By Christine Moffa, MS, RN, AJN clinical editor

Miami Beach & Port of Miami just after dawn / joiseyshowaa, via Flickr

Impending graduation is usually a happy, exciting time, especially for those who, after putting in years of hard work,  are finally about to get that college degree. In the mid-1990s I was in what I considered to be a pretty tough nursing program. For example, during my second semester of core classes we went from 30 students to 19; the drop-off was due to students failing out. Graduation couldn’t come fast enough.

However, when you find out that people who graduated one and two semesters before you are still looking for work, it can be a real buzz kill. That’s how it was for me in May 1995. During that time several hospitals were going through restructuring or reengineering (as this AJN article reported) and were replacing RNs with UAPs. It was next to impossible for a nurse without at least a year of recent experience to find a job in a hospital. Now, as a result of the recession, new graduates are  facing a similar situation. It took me almost a year to get my first job—and this was not without some sacrifices:  I had to relocate from New York to Miami and work the 12-hour night shift.

It ended up being worthwhile, but it was one of the hardest years of my life and potentially could have turned me off of nursing forever. Has anyone else out there had a similar experience? What advice would you give to nurses graduating this year?

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