Travel Nursing: What I’ve Learned in My First Year Pt. 1

There has undoubtedly been a surge in the number of nurses making the leap into travel nursing since the beginning of the pandemic. Travel nursing can be a very lucrative way for nurses to make competitive salaries without obtaining an advanced degree. I think the pros of travel nursing are very clear, but there are some things every nurse should know before signing their first contract.

The more nursing experience you have before traveling, the better.

It’s not impossible to get a contact as a novice nurse, but it is very ill-advised. Although the money can be enticing, there are certain aspects of nursing that new nurses just don’t have. When you become a travel nurse, facilities expect you to hit the ground running with little to no orientation. You are an aide to the facility, so you’re expected to be an expert in your respective field, possessing the confidence and critical thinking skills needed to independently care for your patients.

Have money saved up before you travel

While this is not completely necessary, I wouldn’t recommend leaving your staff job without at least 3 months’ worth of bills saved up. From the time you sign a contract, to your actual start date is about 6 weeks to complete the onboarding process. You want to have savings in case your start date gets pushed and/or your contract is cancelled for any reason and your job search restarts.

Rates fluctuate, so be prepared to negotiate

More than once, I’ve found myself negotiating my rate with my recruiter. Once you begin your travel nurse journey, you may find yourself wanting to negotiate for a higher rate. I can’t count the times I’d signed a contract, then found another agency offering a higher rate for the same job. To negotiate, I would contact my recruiter to discuss the other agency’s rate and see what could be done to adjust my rate.  I’ve only been unsuccessful once, due to the facility not being willing to budge.

I’m excited to share what I’ve learned during my travel nurse journey, but I’d love to hear your experiences as well! Feel free to leave a comment below and subscribe to my email list so you don’t miss parts 2 and 3!


Working As a Telephonic Case Manager

The pandemic is driving nurses from the bedside now more than ever. Many nurses are looking for positions that will allow them to work from the comfort and safety of their homes.

A great alternative to bedside nursing is telephonic case management. Telephonic CMs still get that patient interaction; you’re still able to educate and advocate for your patients (members), all without the stress of working at the bedside.

Depending on your experience and location, most telephonic case management salaries start at around $70,000 annually, which is typically more than what a staff nurse will make at the bedside. Average schedules for a telephonic CM are Monday-Friday, with 8hr shifts and no weekends or holidays required.

Although working from home is less stressful than acute care, there are certain qualities you’ll need to be successful in the role.

For example, you’ll need to be a self-starter. Basically, this means you need to be able to start and manage your day effectively, with minimal to no direction from a superior.

You’ll also need to be organized. Telephonic case managers often have over 150+ members to keep track of, and it is all too easy to mix things up and get confused.

There are a wide variety of organizational tools available. I use sticky notes, a notebook, a white board, and day planner to help me stay organized.  

One of the most important things you’ll need is a quiet place to work. All telephonic case managers are required to have a home office with a lock to protect patient privacy. Some employers may even require pictures of your home office as part of the onboarding process.

Working from home is great, but no job is perfect. There are some things to consider before opting to work from home.

  • Work-life balance

Sometimes, 8 hours isn’t enough to get all your work done! Most work from home jobs are salaried, meaning you don’t get paid for working overtime. If your time management is poor, you’ll find yourself staying late to complete your workday, and no one wants that!

  • 5-day week schedule

This may take some getting used to, especially if you’re coming from a hospital setting. However, you do get PTO, and most companies will allow you to flex your time for doctor appointments, etc.

  • Not leaving the house

You can really go all week without leaving the house while working from home, especially if you don’t have children. It may feel great to save on gas money, but trust me, you’ll start to go stir crazy! Its important for your mental health to try to get out of the house a couple times a week, even if you just sit on your porch or balcony for a few minutes.

  • Not changing clothes/staying in pjs all day

It is all too easy to roll out of bed 5 minutes before you clock in and still be on time for work! Although this may sound appealing (and even be necessary sometimes) its important not to make this a habit! I make sure to start my day at least an hour before I’m expected to clock in. This falls in line with being a self-starter and helps me to stay organized.  

  • Keeping the kids home

You may have considered working from home to save on daycare costs. However, you’ll be expected to treat you home office as a “real” office, meaning no kids allowed. The pandemic has made employers a little more lenient, but it’s not expected to last.

Alright, Let’s walk though my typical day working as a telephonic case manager.

0700 – Wake up, wash face, brush teeth, get son ready for daycare/school

0745-0800 – Drop son off at daycare/school

0815 – Back home, make coffee, fill water tumbler

0830-0915 – Walk neighborhood or treadmill

0930 – Clock in

0935-0945 – Check/respond to emails

0945-0950 – Check calendar for any upcoming meetings

0950-1000 – Review member queue and plan out member contact

1000-1230 – Complete 2-3 telephonic assessments

1230-1240 – Check/respond to emails and IM’s

1245-1345 – LUNCH

1345-1400 – Check/respond to emails and IM’s

1400-1600 – Complete 2-3 assessments

1600-1615 – Break

1615-1730 – Complete 1-2 assessments

1730-1745 – Break

1745-1815 – Document member rounds

1815-1825 – Check email

1830 – Clock out

Keep in mind that this is a rough outline of my typical day. Just like a hospital setting, nothing is black and white and there are many outliers that can affect the flow of any day!

As always, sign up for emails so you never miss a post!

Night Nurse: 4 Tips for Surviving Night Shift

Being a nurse can be physically and mentally exhausting. These challenges are magnified when you’re working night shifts.

 Night shift nurses often get a bad rap. The perception is that night shift is “easier” than days and patients are “sleeping” for most of our shift.

 That’s simply not the case. Having worked on both day and night shifts, I can say that night shift is significantly more difficult than days.

Night shift nurses don’t have the support and resources that are available during the day. Yes, there is a physician on call at night, but in my experience its usually 1 physician (and NP) for the floor and one for the ED.   

Also, support staff on nights is often nonexistent. I’ve worked on night shift for over 4 years, and I can count on one hand the number of times we’ve had more than one CNA on the unit – if any.

I’m looking to discourage anyone looking to work on night shift. Working on nights is a different environment from day shift and I genuinely believe that working on nights has made be a better nurse.

I’ve worked on nights as a new grad, while pregnant, and while adjusting to being a first-time mom! While it wasn’t always easy, my opinion is every nurse should experience working on night shift at least once in their career. Below I’ve listed 4 tips that helped me to manage my work-life balance while working on nights.  


This is easier said than done! Your body naturally wants to sleep at night and be awake during the day. Not to mention this is the schedule for most of the world.

Coffee/tea/energy drinks can be helpful, but be sure to limit your caffeine intake, and only drink when needed. i.e. not at the beginning or end of your shift!

I also purchased black out curtains which helped tremendously. Often, after working a 12hr shift overnight I would get this burst of energy when I got home and had trouble falling asleep. The black out curtains kept my room dark enough to trick my mind into thinking it was nighttime.

While my body was still adjusting to its new sleep-wake cycle, I would sometimes take a melatonin to help me wind down and fall asleep. * Please consult your physician before taking any medication*

It will take some getting used to as your body adjusts to its new circadian rhythm so be patient with yourself!


No matter how much sleep I got during the day, there was a certain period during the night where I was extremely sleepy!

Staying active helped me fight through those rough hours. I would do just about anything to keep busy. I would chart my assessments standing up, restock lab equipment, PPE, and the code cart – there is always something that needs to be done.


There’s nothing worse than having your sleep disrupted by a well-meaning family member or friend! When I worked nights, I made sure my friends and family knew my schedule so that they weren’t calling, texting, OR knocking on my door while I was trying to sleep.

As an extra precaution, I made a sign to put on my door and kept my phone on silent while I slept.

If you have children, family and friends can help take care of them so your rest isn’t interrupted. When my son was born, my sisters helped with babysitting so I could sleep.

If this isn’t an option for you, I recommend looking into before and after care programs with your child’s school or daycare for assistance.  


. . . well, as much as you can. As nurses we know that our work schedule gets changed all the time, and we don’t always get the days we request.

That being said, figuring out what schedule worked best for me was a game changer. Some nurses prefer their shifts spaced out over the week. Others prefer to knock out all 3 shifts in a row and be done with it. What worked for me was working 2 shifts, having a night off, and then working my 3rd.

It’s inevitable that you’re going to miss out on things while working nights. I would do my best to schedule appointments and time spent with loved ones around the days I knew I would be off work. It takes some effort but working nights while having a good home-life balance can be done!

Did you find this post helpful? Please share to help someone else! Leave your thoughts in a comment below!

Don’t forget to subscribe to receive emails so you never miss a post!

Tips For New Grads

Surviving your first year

When I was a new grad, I remember feeling like a straight up idiot. I felt like I forgot everything I learned in nursing school. I would follow my preceptor around like a lost puppy and dread being left alone in a room with a patient, even for a moment.

I’m quiet by nature, so building rapport with patients felt like a task. I hated when patients would ask me questions because I felt like I didn’t know enough, and I second guessed everything I thought I knew.

If you’re a new grad and can relate even just a little, I’m here to tell you that it does get better…. much better.

Soon you’ll be walking round your unit with your head high like you own the place. You’ll answer questions like a pro (because you’ll be one) and building rapport will become second nature.

Self-doubt and nervousness in the beginning are completely normal. It means you’re doing something right Even seasoned nurses find themselves in situations where they are unsure of what to do.

To help make the transition from novice to experienced nurse a little easier, I’m going to share some tips that helped me as a new grad.

  • Tip 1: Ask questions!

Don’t be shy about it either!

No one wants to look dumb at work, especially nurses. However, let me tell you, it’s better to ask a question than deal with the consequences of screwing something up. In our field, even small mistakes can cost someone their life.

You’ll find that nurses ask each other questions all the time, even questions that they “should” know the answer to. I sometimes ask a question I know the answer to just so I can make sure another nurse has the same answer as I do. I know that sounds crazy but working 12 hours and managing multiple patients at a time can make you a little crazy.

  • Tip 2: Cluster care, when possible.

As a new grad, time management was one of the biggest hurdles I had to overcome. The first few hours of your shift are often the busiest, and without proper time management you can be stuck playing catchup for hours.

Clustering care is especially helpful when you have multiple patients on contact precautions (such as COVID-19 patients) and working on night shift.

The purpose of clustering care is to decrease the number of trips into a patient’s room by completing several tasks at one time.

An example of clustering care would include administering medications, completing an assessment/reassessment, performing wound care, emptying drains, turning/repositioning and addressing toileting needs all in one trip to the patient’s room. Keep in mind clustering care is not always possible, and patient needs must be addressed no matter when you last entered the room!

  • Tip 3: Keep report short and sweet!

I hated giving report as a new grad. Even with my SBAR sheet in hand I stumbled over my words and it took forever. Giving thorough and concise report comes with time as you become more comfortable in your role as a nurse.

What helped to speed this process along for me was making my own SBAR sheet. I started by making my SBAR sheet much shorter than those provided on the unit. I also arranged the sheet in a way that made sense to me and flowed well.

Another tip that helped me was sticking to the most important information. I should not take you 30 minutes to give report on one patient. Each nurse does their own assessment, so some things are not important to give in report.

For example, the on-coming nurse doesn’t need to know that the patient prefers grape popsicles over cherry. They would however, need to know of any changes in patient condition that occurred on your shift.

Another way to speed up report is to refrain from starting your assessment in the middle of report and, requesting that the other nurse does the same.

  • Tip 4: Utilize the rapid response team!

At some point in your nursing career you’re going to need the rapid response team. The rapid response team is just as it sounds. It’s a team of nurses, doctors/NPs, and other clinicians who respond rapidly to declining patient statuses that don’t require a code blue.

The purpose of the RRT is to address the early warning signs of deterioration to prevent cardiac arrest. The duration of a rapid response situation is typically resolved quickly with the patient returning to baseline or being transferred to a higher acuity unit.

You’ll use your clinical judgement, along with the signs and symptoms your patient is displaying to decide whether you need to call the doctor, call a code, or call the RRT.

But what if you don’t know what to do?

Of course, you can refer to a senior nurse on the unit, but if your patient is declining and you’re unsure of what to do, the rapid response team is the way to go.

*Patient’s friends and family can call the rapid response team as well if they feel that its needed!

  • Tip 5: Chart your assessments ASAP!

This may be the most important tip I can give a new grad. When I first started out, I would stay late after every shift catching up on charting.  Staying late to chart is extremely annoying (trust me) and will eventually lead to incremental overtime, which most employers frown upon.

Not only that, but you also want your charting to be as close to real time as possible in case your patient begins to deteriorate. The last thing you want during a rapid response or a code is to have large gaps in your charting.

Its not always possible to have your charts up to date, but you at least want your initial assessment charted within the first hour of your shift. Yes, you can have your assessments written on paper, so that you can remember details and chart later. However, in nursing if you did not chart it, then you did not do it, so you want your charts to be as up to date as possible.

Nursing can be scary and often overwhelming, but I hope these tips help to make things a little easier!

As always, sign up for emails so you never miss a post!

5 Reasons You Should Become A Nurse – Even During A Pandemic

Nurses Change Lives

Nurses can make a huge impact on a patient’s life, especially with the current state of the world. Currently there is a no visitation policy at hospitals across the nation. As a nurse, this means that often you will share your patients last moments since their loved ones cannot be there.

There Is A Need for Nurses

Now more than ever, nurses are essential in all forms of healthcare everywhere in the world!  The World Health Organization (WHO) report, State of the World’s Nursing, estimates that “the total number of nurse graduates would need to increase by 8% per year on average, to address the shortage by 2030 in all countries.”

Nurses Can Work Anywhere – Literally!

Nurses work in different settings including hospitals, schools, nursing homes, government agencies, etc. You can freelance, work for insurance companies, law firms, or use your nursing career to help you travel the world; the possibilities are endless!

Nurses Can Make Excellent Earnings

As a nurse, your annual salary will vary based on numerous factors including education, specialty, location, and years of experience. Currently, nurses of all specialties stand to make some serious money. Nurses who opt to work with COVID-19 patients are making anywhere from $5k-$8k/WEEK in some states like NJ.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2019-2020 Occupational Outlook Handbook, the average salary for LPNs & LVNs is $47,480. For Registered Nurses it is around $73,300, and for advance practice nurses the potential salary increases even more. For example, Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Midwives, and Nurse Practitioner’s median salary is upwards if $115,800.

Nurses Can Specialize In Anything

In my opinion, the best thing about nursing is the flexibility. There are opportunities to fit any lifestyle.  Typical areas of interest include Critical CareEmergency MedicineGerontologyNeonatalHospice, Public HealthOncology, and Pediatrics. You could also go the business route or go into other areas such as quality control and informatics if you do not enjoy direct patient care.

I hope this post was helpful, sign up for emails so you never miss out!

Do You Really Want To Be A Bedside Nurse? What You Should Know Before You Decide.

A lot of people think they want to be a nurse, only to find out they hate it once they start working. Although I love being a nurse, there are some things I wish I knew before going into the profession. Knowing then what I know now wouldn’t have changed my mind, but it may for some. Here are 5 questions you should ask yourself before deciding if bedside nursing is right for you.

1. Are you a people person?

This may seem odd, but you’d be surprised how many nurses leave the bedside because they simply don’t like people. Luckily, there are a variety of things you can do with your nursing degree that does not involve direct patient care.

However, if your goal is to become a bedside nurse, you at least need to be able to tolerate people.

Bedside nurses not only interact with patients all day, but their families as well. Not to mention doctors, residents, social workers, nursing assistants, lift team, turn team… the list goes on and on.

If you don’t enjoy interacting with others, (or can at least fake it) bedside nursing may not be right for you.  

2. Can you be assertive?

As a nurse, your patients will depend on you to make sound decisions about their care. Sometimes this may mean getting your patients to do things they don’t want to do.

For example, early ambulation is key to preventing blood clots after surgery and to promote healing. I can’t think of one patient who willingly wants to walk the halls right after having surgery.

As a nurse, its your job to get your patient out of bed and walking. Some patients will be easier to convince than others, so this is where your assertiveness will come in

 Being assertive is not the same as being mean, judgmental, or rude! As a nurse, being assertive means you have confidence, are bold and decisive.

You’ll also need to be assertive when it comes to advocating for your patients. If something does not look, feel, or sound right to you, you’re going to need to be confident enough to speak up and assert yourself. This goes for patients, doctors, family members, the hospital CEO – whoever! Your patient is YOUR responsibility!

3. Do you have enough stamina?

I’m talking about physical and mental stamina. The typical bedside nurse shift is 3 twelve hour shifts a week. It may sound nice to have 4 days off but trust me it doesn’t feel like it. Working 12 hours is mentally and physically exhausting and not everyone can handle it.

Not only will you be lifting, walking, turning, and sometimes restraining patients; you’ll be assessing them at the same time. Be prepared to reassess your patients every 3-4 hours and after every medication and intervention.

You’ll need mental endurance as well! Being tired is not an excuse to not know what is going on with your patients. You will be expected to be just as alert at hour twelve as you were at hour one.  

4. Do you like to educate?

Educating is a huge part of nursing and believe me, you will find yourself teaching the same thing to the same patient again and again.

When I say educate, I don’t mean stand by the white board and give a mini lecture on how exercise can help manage their blood pressure. Your patient’s eyes will glaze over if you don’t get kicked out of their room.

You’ll need to be crafty when educating your patients and deliver education in small doses throughout your shift.

5. Can you leave your feelings/problems at the door?

Your patients will expect you to be at 100% regardless of what’s going on in your personal life. As a nurse, you are your patient’s teacher, friend, confidant, therapist, etc. checking your attitude and problems at the door will not only benefit your patients, but will give you a break from your issues as well.

Also, remember you will not get to choose your patients. At some point you will have a patient who is of a different culture/religion, sexual orientation, or who has political views that differ from your own. You may have a patient who is racist or just does not like you for no reason at all. You will need to push past your personal feelings and provide quality care regardless of the situation.

You also must look within and realize that you may have certain feelings about your patients.   You will be caring for people from all walks of life, different social statuses, and those suffering from addiction. These circumstances can be triggering for some, so it’s important to be in tune with your feelings and be able to separate them when needed.

If this post has you reconsidering becoming a nurse, don’t be discouraged! Bedside nursing is not for everyone and that is perfectly fine! The beautiful thing about nursing is the ability to change your mind again and again until you find the right fit for you!

I hope this post was helpful, sign up for emails so you never miss out!

Surviving Nursing School: How To

First off, CONGRATULATIONS on getting into nursing school, that’s no easy feat!

As sad as it is to say, at least one of your peers in your graduating class won’t walk across the stage with you. Nursing school is no joke, it’s a fight to get in and a fight to stay in. Below you’ll find tips on how I survived nursing school, so you won’t be the peer left behind!

 Get Prepared/Organized

The worst thing you can do is start your semester off in disarray. Its much easier to say organized then it is to get organized mid-semester. It’s a good idea to get reorganized at the start of each semester to say on track. I’ve made a list of some things I used to help me stay organized in school.

  • Pens, notebooks, highlighters – the usual
  • Have separate bag for clinical: This will help you to keep things light while at the hospital, not to mention sanitary 😊
  • Different binders or dividers for each class: If you think I’m being overzealous, I promise you I’m not! Separating your binders/notebooks by the class will make studying a lot less overwhelming!
  • Flash-drive: to store PowerPoints, projects, etc.
  • Recorder: I started off using my phone, which worked fine until I ran out of storage. Not all professors read directly off the PowerPoint, so these will come in handy while taking notes!

Get Ready To Work In Groups

If you’re an introvert, start preparing yourself now! Literally every project I was assigned in nursing school was a group project. Personally, I’m not a fan of group projects, I’m not fond of being responsible for someone’s grade, and vice versa. While I can tell you a couple of horror stories, there are some upsides to group projects. For example, it can be a great way to meet new people to study with.  

Keep A Study Schedule

Having a set study schedule will help you to keep your school-work-life balance in order. Knowing when you’ll be studying will give you time to plan your life around school. Don’t neglect your friends and family all of the time! Its important that you to keep some semblance of normalcy while in nursing school!

Find Someone To Study With – Even If You Like To Study Alone

I retain the most when studying by myself. Having a study group or a study buddy, however, can be very beneficial. Its helpful to have someone to test your knowledge with and/or to help you learn a concept you don’t understand.

Ask Questions, Utilize Teachers and Tutors

My school offered tutors free of charge, but if your school does not, you can find a peer to tutor you, or even look online to find tutors specific to your needs.

Asking questions was a game changer for me in nursing school. I would make a list of questions to ask my professor as I studied. I also would ask questions during class if I needed clarification. Don’t wait until you’re studying on your own to try to figure out what you couldn’t understand in class!

Some professors will allow you to meet with them during office hours. Take advantage of this benefit if its offered! I would’ve failed OB had I not gone to my professor and asked for help!

Surviving Nursing school won’t be easy, but you’ve got this!  I hope you found this post to be helpful! Sign up for emails, so you never miss a post!

Tips on Passing The NCLEX & Why I Thought I failed

In nursing school, the NCLEX was like a dark cloud hovering over my head. The thought of failing would literally keep me up at night. I wasn’t a great test taker in school, and our in-school NCLEX prep was not helpful to say the least.  

I knew that if I wanted to pass the NCLEX, I was going to have to buckle down and stay focused. My school used the Hurst review to help prepare us for the NCLEX.

While I didn’t find the in-school review sessions helpful, the review book and online practice tests are what I used to prepare.

I graduated nursing school at the beginning of May 2016. I took the rest of that month off to celebrate and enjoy my newfound freedom from school. When June first rolled around, it was time to get focused.

I scheduled myself to take the NCLEX on July 18th, giving myself about 6 weeks to prepare. In school I worked as a CNA, I took some time off work to focus solely on preparing for the NCLEX. I know this may not be feasible for everyone, but my studying methods can be tweaked to fit into any lifestyle.

I broke my studying down into different sections: cardiovascular, respiratory, pharmacology, etc. Each week, I focused on only 2 sections. I used the Hurst review book as my only means of studying, as to not overwhelm myself. I studied for 4-6 hours a day, taking breaks when needed.

Everyone learns differently, so you must find the studying method that works best for you.

I learn best by making notes on what I’ve read to help me retain the material. I took lots of notes and I would read over my notes from the previous day before moving on to a new section. I followed this routine everyday for the month of June, taking time off on the weekends.

After a month of reviewing the material, I moved on to practice questions. Practice questions are ESPECIALLY important when preparing for the NCLEX. You get a sense of how the questions will be formatted and you are able to test your knowledge and identify areas of weakness.

I did only practice questions everyday for a week and a half (July 1st – July 13th). I took the last 5 days before my test to relax and get my mind ready for the big day.  

Lets review what you just read (or didn’t read 😊) into a more concise list

  • Give yourself ample time to prepare before testing
  • Make a studying schedule and stick to it
  • Break down your material into sections, as not to overwhelm yourself
  • Remember this phrase: “study long, study wrong!” Take frequent breaks when needed
  • Take notes, or do whatever helps you to retain your knowledge
  • Practice, practice, practice questions! (500-1000 practice questions)
  • Give yourself a break before your test day
  • Be confident and take your time! You have 6 hours!!

I’m telling you to be confident while taking the NCLEX, but I was not! The entire time I was fidgeting in my seat, sweaty, and hungry because I didn’t eat breakfast.

I kept doubting what I knew and re-read my questions 4-5 times before answering. I had in my mind that I was only going to have 75 questions; boy, was I wrong! I took a total of 5 hours and 45 minutes to complete 121 questions.

I was sure I failed because I didn’t get one math question!

I went home that night defeated and worried that I was going to lose the job I’d just started a few days prior. I didn’t try the trick to see your results early because I couldn’t take anymore negativity for that day.

To my surprise, they next morning when I logged in to see my results, I had PASSED! I had such a feeling of joy and relief that it is difficult to put into words.

Therefore, I want you to be confident while taking your test! Hindsight is 20/20, and I could have saved myself many panic attacks had I just been confident in myself from the beginning.

I hope this post helps you prepare for the NCLEX and eases your mind just a little.

Remember, failing does NOT make you a failure! If you don’t pass the first time, try and try again! You only lose when you give up!

Make sure you sign up for emails, so you never miss a post!

Nurse Practitioner School: Online VS Brick and Mortar

Online schools get a bad rap, especially regarding healthcare. On one hand, I understand the criticism and on the other, I disagree.

When I refer to online schools, I mean schools that have no physical building for students to attend.

The biggest critique of online schools is the acceptance rate. Many online schools are willing to accept incredibly low GPAs (2.5), and don’t require admissions essays or references of their applicants. Most brick and mortar schools require a minimum GPA of 3.0, an admissions essay, and 3 references with one being in the role in which you’re applying.  

The argument can be made that since the admissions requirements are so lax for online schools, the education provided would be sub-par, thus producing incompetent nurse practitioners.

Some argue that jobs won’t hire online students because of this, but I’ve never known this to be true. As a matter of fact, I’ve heard the complete opposite.

 In addition to the lack of any real admissions requirements, accreditation of these schools come into question as well.

To sit for boards, you must graduate from a CCNE accredited school.  CCNE accreditation is becoming easier to achieve due to changing requirements. Also, schools can begin enrolling students without CCNE accreditation, and achieve accreditation later down the line and the students who graduated before accreditation will be able to sit for boards.

This does not sit well with a lot of NPs and MDs who attended schools with a rigorous admissions process. Another accusation of online schools is being a “degree mill”.

Because online schools can accept much larger classes than a brick and mortar, the likelihood of students being able to have one on one time with their professors when needed is rare.

The required clinical hours of some online schools are quite questionable when compared to those of some brick and mortars. There is a consensus that you should have at least 800 clinical hours under your belt before sitting for boards.

Upon doing my research, I’ve seen some online schools require around 500 or so precepted clinical hours. A common characteristic of online schools is the requirement of students to find their own preceptors.

This can cause a dilemma for students, as their graduation can be delayed if they are not able to find a preceptor in a timely manner. Also, most preceptors charge the student, so that is an additional fee that students have to pay in order to graduate.

So, what does this mean for you as a prospective student? Well, the choice is yours. Personally, I believe that you can attend any school and be the best at that school. No matter what school you choose, it is the responsibility of the student to take charge of their education to become a successful nurse practitioner.

If attending a brick and mortar school is something you’re not willing to waver on, you may be in luck. Many brick and mortar schools offer online options to accommodate different lifestyles and service students in other states.

As far as education quality, I’ve heard horror stories of students from brick and mortar schools who were less prepared for their role as an NP compared to their peers who attended an online school.

Now-a-days, many schools are taking a holistic approach to their admissions process, so applicants with a GPA slightly lower than a 3.0 can get accepted.

Also, upon research I’ve learned that some online schools have the same, if not more required precepted clinical hours as those of online schools.

Additionally, in doing my research I learned that in some states, brick and mortar schools are requiring students to find their own preceptors as well.

Basically, what it boils down to is YOU! Do your research and choose the school that best fits your needs and lifestyle. Be it brick and mortar or online, focus on being the best student you can be and take charge of your education!

I hope this post helps you in choosing the school that’s right for you! Make sure you sign up for emails, so you never miss a post!

Getting Your Foot in The Door: How To Get Experience Without Experience

Don’t you hate when you try to apply for a job you’re really interested in, and you see they require 2 plus years of experience to be considered? How are you supposed to get experience if they won’t give you a chance?

I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard “there’s a nursing shortage”, or people bragging about having secured a job before even finishing nursing school.

As great as those statements are, it’s not always easy to secure the job you want. Some units are easier to get into as opposed to others. For example, getting a job on a med-surge unit would be easier to obtain than a job on the NICU. This is because units like med-surge typically have more openings due to a higher turn-over rate when compared to the NICU.  

Below you’ll find 3 tips I used to land jobs in areas that aren’t the easiest to get without previous experience.  

               TIP 1: Networking

This is a lot easier than it sounds. If you’re like me, you’re not very social and don’t have a relationship with the managers you work with. I’m here to tell you that it’s OKAY!  

Usually, networking is simply asking someone to give you a chance.  When I wanted to work on the NICU, I emailed the manager outlining my desire to work on the neonatal unit. There weren’t any available positions at the time, but she allowed me to shadow a nurse on the unit. I made sure to send her a follow up email, thanking her for the opportunity.

A few weeks later she emailed me with instructions on applying to a newly opened position.

               TIP 2: Resume Building

Building your resume is extremely important! You can be the best candidate for the job, but still get looked over because someone else looks better than you on paper. You want your resume to contain experience relevant to the job title.

For example, you don’t need to put your dog walking experience on your resume as a new grad nurse. When building your resume, the right wording is essential to stand out to employers.

I’m not saying lie – I actually strongly discourage lying.

However, you want to make sure your resume aligns with the responsibilities of the job. Initially, I had a difficult time landing a job as a telephonic case manager because I didn’t have any previous case manager experience.

The thing is, I did have case manager experience, but I didn’t convey that in my resume. As a bedside nurse I performed assessments, educated my patients on chronic illnesses, participated in interdisciplinary rounds, and assisted social workers with patient placement to a SNF or rehab.

That’s exactly what telephonic case managers do! Once I reworded my resume to describe how my role as a bedside nurse was similar to that of a case manager, I started getting interviews. Inevitably, I landed my first CM job within weeks.

               TIP 3: Referrals

A referral can go a long way in helping you land the job you want. Getting a referral is very similar to networking, except your letting someone else do the praising for you.

I know what you’re thinking, what if you don’t have a friend who works in the area you’re looking to apply? So what?

Most establishments offer their employees a small bonus for referrals that end up accepting an offer.

In most cases, all you have to do is ask someone to refer you, you don’t have to know them very well – or at all.

 As always, please let me know what you thought of this post by leaving a comment and sign up to receive emails, so you never miss out!