New Nursing School Graduates

For a long time, many in nursing leadership have held the view that that a new grad is not a "real nurse" until they’ve spent a year working in an inpatient setting on a general medical/surgical floor.

The usual rationale is that that the experience allows RNs to develop valuable organizational, technical, and assessment skills and helps new grads get a firm grip on the RN role and learn leadership skills.

It’s true that spending a year on the medical/surgical floor can be time well spent, especially if you don’t have a clear idea of the types of nursing jobs you’re interested in doing or if you feel particularly drawn to medical or surgical nursing – a concentration area in itself. However, because of the nursing shortage, many new grads are being recruited directly into specialty areas. If this is coupled with intensive, extended orientation, especially with a mentoring component, it may work out well. In fact, some types of specialized units prefer to train new grads directly, in order to mentor them into the specialty culture and body of knowledge.

For example, some organizations that work in public health prefer to work with new grads, believing that a nurse who has spent too much time in the hospital might find it more difficult to adapt to the sometimes raw conditions that community health nurses encounter in the field as well as to the relative lack of constant peer support and access to resources.

The best way to make this decision for yourself is to talk to other nurses in your desired specialty area. Listen not only to the reasons why they did or didn’t spend a year on med/surg, but also how they feel it affected their nursing career, either negatively or positively.

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