University of Tennessee Students Successfuly Move Into the Workforce

The school year is over, and across the country, many recent graduates are engaged in a job search. Unfortunately, with our nation still emerging from the recession, not all students are succeeding on the job front. The members of the most recent cohort of New Careers in Nursing (NCIN) Scholars to graduate from the University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center (UTHSC), however, are among the success stories.  All ten graduates either have jobs lined up or will be entering doctoral programs in the fall, or both.

With graduates across the country struggling to find work and many employers not hiring at the moment, why are these scholars succeeding? It may be because, as accelerated master’s degree students who have been in the workforce before, they already have experience with the job market and know how to put their existing knowledge to work.

We spoke with two of the scholars about their success finding jobs and both reported that they had been both proactive and aggressive about looking for jobs, long before graduation day. John Ogles, MSN, BA, and Jason Casey, MSN, MS, BA graduated with their nursing degrees on May 25. Ogles has accepted a position in the geriatric unit at St. Francis Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., that begins June 11. Casey has already started work at the Regional Medical Center in Memphis, working in the Trauma Intensive Care Unit and will enter a DNP program this fall.

Before he entered entering the UTHSC College School of Nursing’s accelerated master’s degree program, Ogles had established a career history with experience in advertising and in investment banking. A year before he was due to graduate with his MSN, Ogles began talking to hiring managers at hospitals and health care systems to learn about their hiring and recruiting processes, and what kinds of nurses they would be hiring.

“I made a lot of important connections,” he said. “I also found out that in many states, hiring managers won’t consider an applicant for a nursing job until that applicant has passed the NCLEX. That helped me figure out where I should be applying. I was surprised that a lot of my classmates weren’t as aggressive in looking for jobs.” (In Tennessee, hospitals and health care systems do not have to wait until a nurse has passed the NCLEX to begin the hiring process.)

Casey also began researching nursing careers long before graduation. “I did a lot of things while I was still in school. I took the time to learn about what it would be like to work in various hospital units and I got experience in those areas.”

Casey received three job offers before graduation. He also credits the NCIN program with helping him prepare for a job search. “I really enjoyed the speakers who came to talk to us about leadership about the things we would encounter in our nursing careers. I think that kind of information gave all the NCIN scholars an edge in terms of a better understanding of what it’s like to work as a nurse and what’s required to run a unit or a hospital. Those kinds of insights will help me throughout my career.

“Our NCIN scholars focused on careers opportunities early in their accelerated program, “ said Patricia Cowan, PhD, RN associate professor of the College of Nursing, director of the PhD in Nursing Program in the College of Graduate Health Sciences at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center and NCIN liaison. “ They took the time to research the job market, engaged in networking to determine where they might like to work, and  identified ways to distinguish themselves from other job applicants (such as obtaining ACLS certification). They also take full advantage of the opportunities we give them to work in clinical settings, to find out what various nursing specialties are like and to gain leadership skills. Their ability to be proactive and their enthusiasm for nursing are just two of the characteristics that will serve them well in their careers and help to improve the health and health care of all Americans.”