Apparently the secret is out that nursing is decent profession with good wages and advancement opportunity. This has created a flood of interest and enrollees in nursing programs across the nation. Google “nursing school” and see for yourself.
More licensed nurses + Same amount of jobs = Competitive job market.
With these competitive times in the nursing job market new grads and experienced nurses alike need to arm themselves with these simple tools to increase their competitiveness and curb appeal.
Take these simple steps to stand out from the pack.
1. Join a Professional Organization
Anyone (student nurse, new-grad, experienced RN) can join a professional organization this instant. Its easy and relatively cheap. There are usually no requirements to join other than an interest in that type of nursing + paying the obligatory fee.
There are a ton of reasons why you should join a professional organization:
- Ongoing continuing education
- Networking opportunities
- Journal subscriptions included in your membership
- Discounts on certification
An example of the benefits of an AACN membership, quoted from their website (emphasis added).
As the largest specialty nursing organization in the world, AACN joins nearly 100,000 nurses who care for high acuity and critically ill patients and their families. AACN drives excellence by creating standard-setting resources for and with our members. Our community empowers its members to do the best they can for patients, their families and the profession.
AACN sets the standards for acute and critical care nursing. Online clinical practice resources — leading-edge and evidence-based — enable you to provide the highest quality care. We transform the knowledge of experts into easy-to-understand clinical practice tools — many offered at no charge — to help you navigate our dynamic, constantly changing profession.
This is not an endorsement for the AACN, they are one of dozens of nursing professional organizations you can join.
Besides the personal value belonging can add to your practice, membership shows nurse managers that you are committed to personal improvement and growth. Every manager wants their unit to be full of top notch nurses. Professional membership shows you make the grade.
In my opinion joining a professional organization in your desired specialty is the first step to practicing in that specialty. Say you are a med-surg nurse and want to transfer to pediatrics. You’re frustrated because you can’t seem to land an interview on a pediatric floor. I would say join the Society of Pediatric Nurses and attend their local chapter meetings. Bring your polished resume and start shaking hands. Learn everything you can possibly learn about peds nursing. When you do land an interview the manager will be impressed by your dedication and interest in their specialty. Hired.
2. Get Certified
If you have one to two years experience you are likely eligible to sit for a certification exam based on your specialty. Theres a certification for nearly every specialty and subspecialty. Check out this list here. Most hospitals will reimburse you for your tuition in the form of a one time bonus upon certification. Talk to your HR.
From the link, emphasis added:
Nursing certification is defined as the formal recognition of the specialized knowledge, skills, and experience demonstrated by the voluntary achievement of standards identified by an independent accredited nursing specialty organization to promote optimal patient care. Through the completion of specialized education, experience in a specialty nursing practice, and the completion of a qualifying exam, the nurse achieves specialty certification credentials…
When you are a certified nurse:
- You have objective evidence of your advanced knowledge base.
- Are more likely to get interview for positions that state “CCRN preferred” or similar.
- You can add more letters behind your name. Impressive.
Besides the benefits to your personal practice, certification is a great tool to use if you would like a similar job at another hospital or city. It adds an extra layer of education and expertise that any hiring manager will recognize a mile away.
Resources to help you on your path to certification:
3. Complete Advanced Life Support Certification
As a competent nurse you need to be prepared for the worst case scenario.
Your worst case scenario is always that your patient dies.
An easy way to prepare yourself for the worst is to obtain training and certification in advanced life support. Depending on where you work, or want to work, theres a certification for you.
ACLS-Advanced Cardiac Life Support
- Life-saving protocols and skills that extend Basic Life Support to further support the circulation and provide an open airway and adequate ventilation (breathing).
- While not necessary a requirement for some acute care positions (med-surg) an ACLS certification will boost personal confidence and skills for when a code does happen. Hiring nurse managers smell confidence.
- Certify if you want to work anywhere besides long term care and basic med-surg.
PALS-Pediatric Advanced Life Support
- Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) is a classroom, video-based, Instructor-led course that uses a series of simulated pediatric emergencies to reinforce the important concepts of a systematic approach to pediatric assessment, basic life support, PALS treatment algorithms, effective resuscitation and team dynamics. The goal of the PALS Course is to improve the quality of care provided to seriously ill or injured children, resulting in improved outcomes.
- Take ACLS first. PALS is derived from ACLS algorithms.
- Certify if you want to work ED, PEDS or critical access hospitals that serve all age groups.
NRP-Neonatal Resuscitation Program
- The Neonatal Resuscitation Program (NRP) is an educational program jointly sponsored with the American Heart Association (AHA). The course has been designed to teach an evidence-based approach to resuscitation of the newborn to hospital staff who care for newborns at the time of delivery, including physicians, nurses and respiratory therapists.
- Babies are cute. Save them.
- Certify only if you want to work ED, OB, mother/baby.
As I said above, advanced life support certifications will boost personal confidence and skills for when the worst case scenario happens. Confidence comes out when you write your resume, network with colleagues and interview for your dream job. Also, for many positions advanced life support is required for hire. So I would certify in at least ACLS if you’re on the job hunt.
You can take ACLS online or at a physical location. When you re-cert online, you’ll need to do a skills check at a physical center. Beware of imposter online ACLS providers that are not AHA endorsed. Your card will be worthless. I learned this through experience.
I would recommend taking ACLS in person at least the first time and then re-certify online. When you take it in person you get to participate in the MEGA-CODE and save a dummies life. Fun. If your employed already see what your hospital will pay for before you sign-up somewhere.