Picking Your First Nursing Job

October 8, 2020

 Selecting your first nursing job can be a daunting task. If you only applied to one hospital, maybe not. But let’s just say you applied far and wide and you have a plethora of offers. 


The excitement of soon graduating and being gainfully employed soon wears off when you realize, “these are all good offers, but which one is the best?”


Your mind may soon begin to drift and think “ what if I make the wrong decision?”


And then in true decision paralysis fashion, instead of making a decision, you sit around and allow your worry to overcome you. 


In total, I received 6 offers from various hospitals. I quickly learned not all offers were created equal.


Some of the deciding factors when selecting an offer are as follows:

1.         Pay (base rate, differentials)

2.         What shift will I be working on?

3.         Commute

4.         What level trauma center is it?

5.         Loan forgiveness

6.         Tuition reimbursement

7.         Benefits (this includes PTO, Insurance, Gym, Concierge service)

8.         What unit will I be working on? Is this my desired unit?

9.         Staffing ratios?

10.       Is there an opportunity for advancement?

11.       Can I get involved in the unit? (ex. Shared governance, Charge nurse, nurse educator)

12.       Is there a nurse residency? What is the length of the residency?

13.       Hospital reputation



My fast advice and final thoughts:

-           I ended up using a decision matrix. The perks of dating an engineer. You can google them and how to use one but to give you a general overview: 

-           You pick a few categories and assign point values to them. 

-           In the matrix, you could be comparing 2 hospitals or more. 

-           For each hospital, you’re comparing the same categories. A point value of 0 could be low significance and 5 representing high significance. After rating each category, the hospital that has the highest score wins. 

-           Again, this is a rough description, definitely google for more detail. A decision matrix is very useful and I’ve used them when deciding on other things like a vacation destination. 

-           It’s an objective tool that removes the emotion and just presents the facts.

-           Ultimately my top 3 deciding factors were Commute, Unit type, and Pay. 

-           With these three things, I was able to narrow down my 6 offers to 2 hospitals.

-           Even when I got my dream offers and my dream units, they still fell short in the departments that mattered the most.

-           Pay isn’t everything, true. But as someone with two degrees and growing loan debt I had to be honest with myself. Yes, there will always be opportunities to make more money but starting out I have financial goals to meet and have to remember that my loan grace period ends in 6 months.

-           I constantly felt like I was making a mistake. Each time I told a recruiter “No”, I felt a sadness that’s hard to describe. The downside of being a people pleaser.

-           A good rule of thumb throughout this process: VERBALLY accept every offer but don’t sign anything.

-           It’s easier to accept and then decline later. This way you can weigh your options without the added pressure. You don’t want to say no to everything and be left with no options.

-           Also, think about your recruiting experience. How was it? How was the interview with the unit managers?  This foreshadows what it’ll be like once you’re actually at the hospital or on the unit. If it was unorganized and stressful before you an employee, things probably won’t change once you get there. Pay special attention during this process. This gives you a little insight into how the hospital runs. 

-           Ultimately, I ended up picking a hospital that wasn’t on my radar due to the decision matrix.

-           Decided what’s important to you and go from there!



That’s all that I have for you guys today! Definitely reach out if you have any questions on this topic or if there’s something, you’d like me to cover in an upcoming blog post.

As always, thank you so much for reading, and I’ll talk to you guys soon!

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