NQN · Pre-Nursing · Reflection · The StN Project

Choosing an NQN job

How to choose where to work? 

We all know about the massive shortages of nurses in the UK right now. We also know that this leads to newly qualified nurses having the opportunity to be quite picky about where they work. But how do you choose what’s right for you? The Student Nurse Project team recently had a conversation about this, and we thought we’d turn it into a blog post to hopefully help some of you with those tricky decisions.  

The first thing to remember is that where you start your career as a nurse doesn’t have to be forever. You can move on or find a new job at any time you would like to. Some advice we got was “you’re not a tree with roots when it comes to NQN positions, where you start off working is not where you need to stay”. People’s circumstances change, people’s preferences change and sometimes people just want something new. There are so many different places you can work as a nurse. You don’t need to stay where you start; if you choose to then that’s ok as well! Just remember to try not to put too much pressure on that first job, yes it’s a big decision, but it is your decision and it can be changed.  

So, how do you choose? @paedsnursebeth and @elliebullman93 have come up with what helped them choose their first position. 

1) Consider your circumstances – do you have a family to provide for? Do you want to move house or stay local? Do you have access to transport? 

2) What sort of shifts do you want to work? – Long days, nights, 9-5, 4-day weeks etc. There’s a huge variety of shift patterns in nursing, both in the NHS and the private sector 

3) What have you enjoyed whilst being a student? Did you love community nursing, or find that you were rewarded by working in CAMHS? Perhaps you want something with a high turnover like A&E or MAU, or something more structured like theatres or outpatients.  

All these things can be taken into consideration before you even start looking for jobs. Many people come into a nursing degree having some idea of where they want to work. For some, this changes along the way, for others it sticks, and some people still have no idea when they reach their final placement! None of these are wrong, it’s individual to you.  

The next things to consider are about the job itself… 

4) What is the preceptorship like? How many study days are there? How long is the supernumerary period? How much support will you get as a NQN? 

5) Similar to before – what type of job is it? Is it a rotation? If so, are these all areas you want to gain more experience in, or can the rotation be tailored to you? Is it a permanent job? Do you want set shifts or are you happy to move around? 

6) What does the role actually entail? It’s worth speaking to staff who work in the area to get an idea of the job role, if it’s not something you’ve done on placement.  

How did we choose personally? When you’ve got more than one job offer it’s not easy, especially when you’d be happy to work at any of them and you don’t want to let anyone down. Someone once said to me: “Whatever decision you make is the right one, because it’s the one you made”. Also, try not to beat yourself up, more advice I received was “Make a decision and stick to it, if you keep changing your mind you’ll just put yourself through unnecessary turmoil”. Perhaps from this last paragraph it’s obvious that one of the first things I did was speak to lots of people, lecturers at university, my parents, my friends and my nursing cohort. This helped me a lot, however everyone does have different opinions of what’s right for you and what they think would be best, so at the end of the day you still have to make your own decision.  

  • Do you want to push yourself out of your comfort zone or stay with something familiar? If you feel like you’re not good enough, remember that you wouldn’t have been offered the job if they thought you couldn’t do it. 
  • Which job did you want first? It’s likely that this is the one that you want more than the others.  
  • What do you feel excited and nervous about?  
  • What is your gut feeling? Trust your instincts. 
  • Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time? What sort of experience might you need to get there? 
  • Where can you build and develop the skills you want to learn? 
  • What is the CQC rating? Have you looked at the staffing ratios and staff surveys? These are all published on the trust websites. 
  • Do you know the team? Is there good leadership? 
  • What is your personality like? Do you want a rotation to force you to get more experience? Would you prefer more stability? 

Finally, remember to do something you are passionate about right now. You spend a lot of time at work! It’s worth going somewhere you will be happy, if your passion changes in the future that’s ok, you can move on. Good luck, you’ve got to the point of applying for jobs which means you’re so close to finishing your degree which is an achievement in itself 

Written by Ellie (@elliebullman93) and Beth (@paedsnursebeth) , final year student nurses (adult and child field).

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