Thinking about life after nursing school is something a lot of nursing students don’t really think about.
One of the reasons is nursing school is so rigorous that nursing students just focus on the day-to-day. Very rarely worrying about after they graduate.
Thinking about what to do after nursing school might not have crossed your mind much.
Below we’ve compiled some of the most important things you need to think about before you graduate.
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1. After nursing school, you might not get that dream job
I meet a lot of nursing students who don’t want to go into medical surgical nursing.
I don’t blame them.
I’m not particularly a big fan of med-surg myself.
After nursing school, many nursing students have taken to seeking out specialty jobs.
Even though you might want that sweet intensive care unit (ICU) job or that fast-paced trauma emergency room (ER) job you might not get those positions.
The news talks a lot about how there are shortages of nurses. This is true, but what is not mentioned is that it depends on where in the country you live in.
Even though there is a shortage of nurses what you must keep in mind is it varies depending on where you live.
In some areas of the country, it’s not uncommon for a new grad nurse to spend their life after nursing school job hunting for a couple of months (source).
In the end, sometimes you have to take what’s available to you. Once you are in a position, start networking to open doors that will get you closer to the unit you want to be in.
You might not be able to get into that ICU position you want right after nursing school. But you might be able to get into that step-down position.
Some experience in a step-down unit may give you a better chance of getting into the ICU.
Related Post: 9 Brilliant Tips for Starting a New Nurse Job
2. Life after nursing school might mean you accept your first job offer
Unless you have prior healthcare or LPN experience, after nursing school you might not be able to negotiate your pay.
Let me first say even as a new nurse grad you should always try to negotiate your pay.
If you are trying to negotiate your pay it helps if you are negotiating from a position of strength.
As a new grad nurse, you lack the experience, therefore it’s unlikely you will be negotiating from a position of strength.
Most likely you will get a “no” on a higher starting pay, and that’s ok.
Related Post: 27 Must-Know New Grad Nurse Do’s and Don’ts
3. After nursing school, you must continuously show your worth
Even though you might not have a lot of leverage on that starting pay, you will have opportunities to show your worth.
Life after nursing school demands that you do so. After you get the job it is not time to go on cruise control.
You have to be about your personal brand as a nurse. In other words how you represent yourself to others.
After nursing school, you’re going from showing your professors that you’re a competent and good nurse…
to…showing your employer that you’re a good nurse and a team player.
Related Post: 20 Essential Qualities of a Good Nurse
You now must show your employer that you’re not just worth the starting pay they gave you, but you’re worth a lot more than that.
If you want to move up in pay look for reasons to make yourself valuable to the organizations.
- Is there an extra certification you can get?
- Can you be cross-trained for a different area?
- Are you that person that everyone wants to work with because of your work ethic?
- Or personality?
- Do you show up where you need to be and on time?
4. Life after nursing school is probably full of debt
Be mindful of how much debt you have.
Because of the exponentially increasing costs of higher education, many college students take out student loans.
Those student loans allow students to pay for their tuition or to make ends meet while attending school. Nursing majors are not the exception to this.
You want to keep track of the amount of student loans you have and when you’ll have to start paying those loans back.
Depending on your situation it’s possible some of you could have a couple thousand to well over six figures in debt.
It doesn’t help with the age of social media we see friends taking vacations or buying new cars.
I encourage you to be mindful and not fall into envy and let your actions be fueled by it.
After nursing school, be diligent about getting that situation under control.
Otherwise you could be shackled with the heavy burden of debt for years to come.
5. Life after nursing school might mean…furthering your education with more schooling
Taking the next step of your nursing career is a wonderful goal!
Keep in mind your debt load and think about how much you already owe when considering going back to school.
If graduate school is in your future think about when and how you are going to pay for it.
6. Life after nursing school might mean dealing with “grownup” problems such as…Retirement
If you are young, it’s never too early to start and if you are older it’s never too late.
After nursing school, you need to start looking at where you are at for retirement.
If you have already started, keep saving.
If you haven’t started saving then it’s imperative that you start.
Most experts would say save about 10-12% of your income for retirement depending on when you start.
If your employer matches, take advantage of that free money!
7. Life after nursing school means…you get to celebrate
That is right! You have made a big accomplishment graduating nursing school.
Don’t forget to celebrate and enjoy the fruits of your labor the past couple of years.
How do you plan to celebrate life after nursing school?
Please share this article so we can get the word out and educate others.