If you're a new nurse, you might wonder how long you have to stay at your first job.
I'm answering that, plus helpful tips on how you can quit your first nursing job the right way.
How Long Should You Wait to Leave Your First Nursing Job?
New nurses should wait 2 years before leaving their first nursing job. The reason is that two years is enough time for the recent grad to get acclimated to working as a nurse. Two years is also enough time to start getting comfortable in your specialty.
Why You Should Wait 2 Years to Leave
You might be itching to leave earlier, but there are some good reasons why you should wait at least two years to quit.
1. You Need 2 Years to Get Comfortable
As a new grad nurse, there's a lot for you to learn. Two years is just enough time to start getting a handle on those things.
Notice that I said to get a handle on things and not master, but I'll get to that momentarily.
The first year is what you'll need to get the anxiety out of the way of being a new nurse. The second year is then what you'll need to get comfortable in your chosen nursing specialty.
2. Leaving Earlier Could Put You in Limbo
If you leave early, you could find yourself in a weird situation where you're not a new nurse anymore, but you're not technically an experienced nurse.
Such a gray area will do nothing but cause you anxiety, and it could make finding your next position a little bit more complicated.
3. It Looks Bad on Resume
You should avoid anything that makes you look like a job hopper on your resume.
It's not cheap to train nurses (especially new nurses), and potential employers could shy away from you if they feel like they'll spend a lot of time investing in you, only for you to leave.
When You Should Leave Early
While it's ideal if you stay at least two years, I understand that there are reasons why it's either not possible, or it would be better for you to leave ASAP.
Such reasons could be:
It's important to note that it might still be better for you to try to manage at least to the 1-year point, but sometimes it's unavoidable.
If it does happen, rest assured that it's still not the end of the world. You just need to make sure it doesn't look like a pattern.
Also, make sure you're very thoughtful about your next destination.
How to Quit Your First Nursing Job
1. Have Another Job lined Up
There's a saying out there that goes something like this: “It's easier to get a job when you already have a job.”
I think that saying is very true for a lot of reasons.
First, having a job makes you less desperate for your next job because you still have an income, which means you'll interview better.
The other thing is that some employers may question the lapse of employment.
If you're looking for a job, check out the NurseMoneyTalk job board.
2. Give a 2 Weeks Notice
I am a firm believer that nurses should always give a two weeks notice before quitting their job.
Some will argue against this by saying employers don't give you notice before firing you. To which I would say I agree. Employers don't typically give you notice before you're let go.
It still doesn't change my stance, and here's why. Some facilities will make you a no rehire if you don't give notice.
If you're working for a big health system, that could mean you're locking yourself out of employment by a big employer.
3. Make Sure You Pick the Right Spot
The last thing to remember is to make sure you're very thoughtful about your next landing spot.
Make sure you've vetted that employer and that position to ensure it has all the qualities that are important to you.