July 31, 2009


Progress from the last two days since I couldn't see last night to type: a revamped resume and cover letter, three rejections, eleven new applications, and a call from a recruiter saying though she's not sure if they're taking new grads, she was going to forward one of my applications to the unit's manager. I thanked her and told her to feel free to forward it to any unit manager she wanted to, that I'll try anything.

Where I dropped my resume off in person, the effects were mostly good: if they were there, they were nice and chatted with me for a bit. Of course, no one offered me an interview on the spot, but maybe I'll stick out in their memories a bit more.

And I still have that interview on Monday, so I'll be prepping for that over the weekend.

The clinic was fun. I caught onto my new duties pretty fast so next week I'll jump in on my own as much as I can. I definitely need to start brushing up on hypertension and diabetic drugs, tests, treatments, etc.--the whole nine yards. Not that I was caught short on info today, but it looks like many of the patients there have either/both conditions, and it would serve me well to know both of those conditions inside and out. I also talked to some of the other staff and volunteers there...it's good practice at networking, something that I'm not good at and I wish they did teach us school.

I also got a crash course in how to use a tonometer, and maybe next time it's needed they'll let me go live with it.

The PALS book arrived...it's going to be A LOT of studying. I was going to try to schedule the class ASAP, but the first available class date was during one of the volunteer days so I had to pass and go for the end of the month. After seeing the PALS book, I think it was the wise decision.

I don't know if getting all of these certifications is an exercise in futility in itself. I've yet to see a return on my investment...but oh well. I was going to be getting them anyway--I guess I'm just getting them early.

Enough about nursing and the exercise in futility.

The weather promises to be miserable all weekend, so I'll be in catching up on movies (hello, Zorro!) and reading...and sleep. Sleep has not been coming well for me--not from stress or any problems. I'm missing the "sleepy" window--you know, the point when I feel so drowsy that I should go to bed instead of staying up checking mail, watching TV, knitting, etc. Instead, I push myself to finish what I'm working on, with the result that when I'm done, I'm no longer tired. So of course, I start on something else, and next thing I know it's 2am.

Sleep aids are often counterproductive. Either they work too well and I'm groggy all next day, or they don't work and I'm groggy all day. Having a nightcap or two does the same thing. And no, don't suggest I have both together--I do want to wake up the next day, after all.

July 29, 2009

It's like a roller-coaster every day

Today's progress: no rejections, two new applications.

I can start the day feeling one way and by the end of it, have gone down and up and down and up and down and up and so on. The same thing the next day, and the next. This was pretty much how I felt through nursing school, and I thought it'd end when I graduated. It didn't, so then I thought it'd end when I started studying for the NCLEX. And it did...until I started looking for a job. Then it started back up again. I have to admit, a lot of it is self-directed: I know it's a tough market right now--no one's hiring due to the economy being so bad, and those who are getting hired now are pulling out every trick in the book--but I still can't help but think "what's wrong with me?" I don't look too bad on paper; if only they'd at least call to give me a chance in person, you know?

It's frustrating because one hospital won't tell you anything: you just stay in an anonymous limbo--you don't even know if you're rejected for the job. Another also keeps you in limbo, but at least they tell you when you've been been passed over. The third is the one that keeps you posted and in a timely manner--in my case, with a lot of rejections, though I now have two applications that are up to the manager level. The last can't do anything with new grads until they offer another new grad program, which will supposedly be in the fall.

My better half--well, he's only better half the time--tells me not to worry, that it will all work out and I'll get something soon so don't stress. He's right, I guess...but I still can't help but feel frustrated and rejected.

I've decided to be a bit more aggressive with the job search. Tomorrow I'm planning a frontal attack (read: drop my resume off in person) in two places, and looking up some more skilled facilities to apply to. That'll be all I'll be doing tomorrow though as I have an eye appointment. They're going to dilate them for a test, so I'll be rendered useless for most of the day. Pity. The new Netflix movie is "Zorro the Gay Blade." I hadn't seen that one in years and I was looking forward to watching it.

I'm also going to take the better half's advice and try to relax more. Getting worked up and stressed is not going to do me any favors, nor is it going to change the economy.

The training at the clinic went well. My first working day is on Friday. What I'll be doing is not as hands-on with the patients as I'd like it to be, but it's where they need a nurse right now and I am there to serve. It does involve patient education, which I'm good at...and from the looks of it, I should end up a pro at knowing medications in no time. Also, once I get settled into my new duties, I can look at coming in on other days to gain different experiences. Plus, it's a good environment with friendly people...and it is a nice addition on the resume.

And so will the PALS class: I tracked one down for August.

July 28, 2009

Decided to change my luck a little

Yesterday's progress: 1 rejection, 2 new applications, one of which resulted in an on-the-spot interview. It's not my first choice position (and I admit, I was a *tad* too honest and told her this--my foot-in-mouth strikes again), but I figured I had nothing to lose by dropping a resume off, as it's not as though that would applying automatically commit me to working there.

After seeing a couple of classmates get interviews (and so far one land a job), I decided I needed to grab the hand of fate and do something about it. I spent the morning reworking the resume and cover letter...both are far from perfect, but I think they're improved. I decided to put in for the skilled nursing position, which ended up in the interview. It's a nice place so I could work there, and it sounded like it'd be busy enough. But a lot of their openings didn't fit in with my schedule, so we shall see.

Then I called the recruiters of the local hospitals to check in and see how I could update my applications there. Surprisingly, I actually got one on the phone! Usually, I get the voice mail and depending on who they are, they may or may not call back (some are good about returning calls, some take their time doing it, and a couple are notorious for never calling). But I dialed the last one and there she was. She told me things are still bleak for applicants, I commiserated with her, she said she'd check on my application for me. In a hour or so, I found that she pushed one of my applications up another level. So while I'm not celebrating anything just yet, it is a small progress.

Then I also got a nice reference from the last place I volunteered at, and I've been updating my applications to include it.

It made me feel better, considering that I started the day off in a pretty lousy mood. While I'm happy for my classmates and their successes, I can't help the "why not me?" feeling, wondering what's wrong with me. Though in all honesty, perhaps it's not so much the "what's wrong with me?" but "what's right with them?"

Oh well. My day will come.

Today is training at the clinic, and that will take up the bulk of my day. My first day wearing scrubs as an RN...I'm kind of proud of myself. I feel like the last two years are finally worth something. I'm excited to be jumping into actual nursing even without the paycheck...though I did make sure my malpractice insurance was up-to-date, Good Samaritan Laws notwithstanding. Better to be safe than sorry.

July 27, 2009

If I could have...

Today's progress: no rejections, no status changes, and no applications due to illness. I was sidelined with a migraine most of the day, so I didn't do much of anything except lie under wet washcloths and make some sourdough starter for a social event on Thursday. Good sourdough bread needs to be started about two to three days out.

Around 3:00, the headache finally broke, though it's left a lingering ache along my brow. But at least I can function now, so I made tonight's dinner of chicken parmigiana, plus a tray of brownies since the weather is so dreary and chocolate is so cheerful. Now I'm about to start some coffee...more for the migraine than for anything.

And this is why I don't lose weight.

What happened to the idea that maybe I'd drop all of this nursing school weight as soon as I passed the boards? If you find it, redirect it to my house. I just need to eat better and exercise more. I wish I had the motivation to do one, if not both.

There weren't many job pickings in the Sunday papers, and today's inbox had a few listings for skilled nursing places. Again, I'm torn: do I want to apply for skilled nursing jobs when it's not really what I want to do? Part of me just says to do it because there's no guarantees that things will open up down that road, that I may as well apply for whatever I can.

I think I'm just a little stir-crazy from not working. It'll be nice to start training this week for the free clinic.

I have to admit that when I graduated, I did feel a small sense of entitlement. Why? Well, for most of the last two years that's what everyone in the free world was telling me: you'll have no problems getting a job, you can write your own ticket, you can pick and choose, etc. I did very well in school and figured that would help me get hired right away. For most of the two years, it was a very realistic plan. Of course, no one had foreseen the economy going south like it did.

If I had known, I would have somehow swung an aide job at one of the hospitals in order to get a foot in the door there. The reality is that it would have been very hard due to family reasons, though...but I could have managed part-time, maybe. Or I would have tried harder for an externship...again, it would have been hard for me to do because of those family reasons, but I could have tried. I would have done more volunteering in the hospitals. I had volunteered through most of my schooling but I could have targeted most of it better.

I don't know if applying for jobs any earlier than I did would have helped: no one wanted to talk to me until I was licensed, but after I got my license they had nothing to offer. And I didn't know anyone on the inside to help get me in, like some of my classmates did. Sometimes I feel like that's not fair that they had that advantage...but in all honesty, if I were in their shoes, I would have done the same without blinking.

Oh well.

I believe that we end up on certain paths for a reason...though we may not know why right away. So I guess where I am now is where I'm meant to be, as frustrating as it may be.

July 26, 2009


I like the weekends: it gives me a little break from the exercise in futility that is called job hunting. I check the status of my applications and grab the Sunday classifieds but that's really it. I don't know if this puts me at a disadvantage of those who are searching 24/7 for work, but in all honesty, I need that mental break from it. I've graduated--I don't need to sacrifice my mental health anymore.

I went for the ADN because I didn't have the money for a BSN program...or even for the local diploma program for that matter--their tuition was comparable with many BSN programs. So I opted for the two-year degree with the plan that I'd go to work after graduation for a while, and get an employer to pick up the tab for the BSN. Keep in mind when I started was two years ago when they were throwing jobs at nurses, so this was a very reasonable plan at the time.

If I had the money, I'd be back at school right now going for that BSN and hoping the job market would be better when I get out in a year or two. But I don't have the money...and I was burned out from studying over the last two years anyway--the last thing I wanted to do is go back to a classroom. I do need a BSN within the next 4-5 years for my future plans to come to fruition, and so I decided that I will start a RN-BSN program in fall 2010 come hell or high water. if I don't get a nursing job or a scholarship, I'm still going even if I have to pay for school by working in a grocery store. I don't qualify for a lot of need-based financial aid programs. I have to aim for merit-based aid (which has a lot of tough competition), other aid programs and obscure scholarships.

I should look and see what pre-requisites I'd need to complete. I already have an undergraduate degree, so I can't imagine I'd need more than a couple of classes. The other question is where to go for this. Affordability is a key factor. So is flexibility since I have a young child. I do very well in online classes--I have the discipline for them--so an online RN-BSN would be perfect. But not many places offer them and those that do...well, it isn't cheap. Still, can't hurt to look at them though.

I also better start looking at my review books. There was a post at a nursing forum I visit about the 20 drugs one should know for clinicals, and I drew a blank after furosemide. I know I've been out of school for two months now, but I'd hope I'd retain info a little longer than this. At least now when I review, I'm not going to be forcing myself to stay up late or giving up my fun time.

Oh yes, "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" was an excellent movie! Paul Newman and Elizabeth Taylor just grabbed hold of me and didn't let me go until the end credits rolled. I want to go read the play after this. I don't know what Netflix will send me next, and I think I'll let myself be surprised.

July 24, 2009

Holy ....

Today's job hunt progress: no rejections, no new applications no status changes...and one interview scheduled. It was out of the blue too: the long-shot application I put in at a place because I figured I had nothing to lose. I was going to call them next week to follow-up, but they beat me to it. It's not full-time but PRN, nor is it my first choice field of nursing..but it is one I could get interested in. Plus it's experience, which is priceless. So I've got some time to prepare for it, which will be spent doing my homework on the field as well as looking up interview tips.

I scheduled my training at the clinic for next week...that will be fun. Apparently my foot-in-mouth syndrome didn't hamper me, though that's something I will have to control for my interview. Perhaps I should add that on to my list of things to look up as well?

I was able to get through two books--two non-nursing books, that is--this week: "The First Wives Club" and "The Merry Monarch's Wife." It's nice to be able to read for reading's sake. I mean, I did a lot of reading over the last several years, but it was because I was assigned to read it. It's also nice to read books that have little to do with nursing and don't have diagrams, tables, pictures, charts, and end-of-chapter NCLEX-style questions. Though I was so desperate to have something to read while I was waiting at the auto shop today that I grabbed the only book I had in my car, which happened to be a Kaplan review book, and read that again.

I should really learn to keep a small fun book in my bag for just such emergencies. I used to have one in my car--an autobiography of Margaret Mitchell--but it seems to have gone missing.

Anyhow, I'm not sure what I'm going to read next. I have a book on the real Godfather (whose name I can't recall), "The Loves of Charles II", and "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" within reach, plus too many other books squirreled away in the house. I can't decide which one to grab and start first. And of course, I need keep working on my Sudoku book--I made a promise to myself that this year, I'd complete an entire Sudoku book. That doesn't mean I'll have to get each puzzle right, but that I'll just complete all of them.

Though if I am wise, I'll also start reading some of the nursing journals I've been getting in the mail. Just because I've finished school doesn't mean I should finish learning, especially since soon I'll be busy using--at least in the clinic--what I learned over the last two years.

Oh yeah, the Netflix DVD in question is indeed "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" which I have had out since January 9th, and which will be watched as soon as I log off of the computer.

July 23, 2009

Yesterday's progress: no rejections, no status changes, 1 new application. I decided to reword the cover letter and try again at a job that I was previously rejected from and which was reposted. Will it work, who knows? Probably not...but since I already had a cover letter on hand tailored for that field of nursing, I decided to tweak it some more.

A friend of mine keeps telling me to look into skilled nursing. Another says agency nursing. Yet another says find a doctor's office. All three are valid suggestions, but I admit, I'm torn. I'm really set on working on a hospital floor, and I don't want to start a job--assuming I can even get hired for one!--to possibly quit in a few months when the hospitals here are supposedly going to open up more spots for new graduates. I'm fortunate in the fact that financially, I can wait a while...at least for a while, anyway. We planned around that in our budget.

I can't do it forever, especially since I got denied unemployment. A friend suggested I apply now that I'm looking for work and that I could use the money to help offset the cost of the job hunt (you know, buying an interview suit, paper for resumes and all that)...but apparently you had to work in the last year, and I did not work because I was in school. Oh well. I was going to withdraw the claim anyway, as I'm really only going after nursing jobs and wouldn't be taking anything that comes my way, and after reflection I decided that it wouldn't be fair of me to collect benefits if I wasn't willing to do that. But my denial came in advance of my paperwork, so I guess problem solved?

Silly, I know. But I'm a big believer in karma. Though karma doesn't always help with the finances around the house. So if I don't have anything in the hospitals or big facilities come October, it's time to jump in and grab anything I can.

I spent yesterday tending to social obligations. It's nice to be able to attend them during a weekday, something that I definitely will miss when working. Unless, of course, I pull nights. Or weekends. Or weekend nights...which I have worked in the past and aren't really as bad as the sound. You just learn to rearrange your social calendar.

Today, it's going to be a "follow-up" day. I'm going to grab the phone/e-mail and follow-up on a lot of my applications, as well the scheduling for my training at the clinic. Then perhaps it'll be time to finally watch that Netflix movie. I should look up my account and see how long I've had that movie out. I'm not even sure what movie it is anymore...I want to say "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof." But then I'd have to find and open it, and I want to take care of the follow-up business first.

July 22, 2009

Hurrah for status quo!

Today's job hunt progress: no rejections, no status changes. No change, which is good! I may not have advanced any but I haven't been rejected, so I'm still in the game. No new applications in as there were no new jobs around either.

One of the positions I had been rejected from was reposted...I'm debating about whether to reapply. On one hand, nothing's really changed in my resume since I last applied, so it's not as though I have anything new to offer. On the other hand, I could really rework my cover letter to emphasize my willingness to learn and acquire certifications, and it's not as though I'd have anything to lose by applying. Who knows, maybe my persistence will sweep them off of their feet?

Or maybe not. The job is located at the hospital where my "front-running" application is, and I don't want to jeopardize that in any way. Then again, said hospital isn't exactly calling me back about moving that front-running application forward any...

The orientation at the clinic was good. I'm one of two RNs there. The other is an older woman who actually knew some of my nursing school teachers, which was nifty. They're going to schedule the trainings this week and with all luck I will be on the floor practicing my craft within a couple of weeks. I did put my foot in my mouth there though--I truly live up to my astrological sign's traits, I tell you. I shan't share the details as I'm embarrassed enough, and though it was minor, no harm was meant and apologies were offered all around, I'm hoping I can get past it and it doesn't impede me in any way. I just need to work more on thinking before I open my mouth.

I picked up some scrubs at Wal-Mart so I'll be ready. I did try to stay away from black, but it's hard. I like black. It's a simple color, easy to coordinate with, goes well with my skin tone (I'm a Winter) and my other favorite colors (purple, red, grey). It sets off my stethoscope's color nicely. But some people find black clothing depressing. My mother does, for a start--she's always yelling at me that I have too much black in my wardrobe. She's not as critical about all the red, but she really hates the black. It's definitely not the color to wear on a peds or geriatric unit, that's for sure. Poor little kids and elders are nervous enough being in hospital, then they see me walking in wearing all black and get even more nervous. If I come bearing an IV pole, they'll think "It's the Grim Reaper!" Kids will start bawling in their stuffed animals. The elders may think I'm a punker or a Goth--heaven knows I've got the hair and the pallor...though fortunately not the taste for heavy black eyeliner. Who knows, the Catholic patients could see me and think I'm a nun. Now there's quite a thought.

But for general med-surg, why not black scrubs? Besides, it looks slimming, and it hides stains well.

So anyhow...I settled on mostly black pants, colored tops, and one black top to wear with pants that are not black. Three total outfits and some extras for only $100. I wonder if it's a tax write-off...or is that only if I am meaningfully employed? Could I write off supplies used in the course of volunteering? I must look into that.

I spent the rest of the day being an angel of mercy for a friend. She's stranded with a sick toddler and a healthy preschooler, so I ran supplies out to her and ran her preschooler out of the house so she could get a little break. And perhaps it'd wear the preschooler out too so bedtime would come early.

July 21, 2009

Tuesday notes

Today's job hunt progress: 1 rejection. No status changes on any other applications. No new applications as I didn't really look for anything today--the weather was so beautiful out today that I decided to put the exercise in futility on hold and go outside to play. I may look at the classifieds in the paper and see if there's anything there...but Sunday's selection was pretty sparse, so I can't imagine today's selection will be anything better.

It was nice to play hooky from searching for work. It was very relaxing to be out with friends and enjoying the summer day. Yes, I was completely and utterly lazy and I don't regret it--I'd seen precious little downtime for the last two years, after all. I've even felt relaxed enough to bake up a loaf of bread from scratch to have with tonight's dinner. Cooking is a stress outlet for me...so is eating, unfortunately, but that's another story for another day. I'm not an Iron Chef when it comes to cooking, but I hold my own. I remember the days before nursing school when I'd make both pasta and spaghetti sauce from scratch (read: flour and tomatoes). It was a whole day project but a fun one, especially with a glass of wine nearby and something good playing on the radio while I worked. Of course, parenthood and nursing school took a big chunk out of my free time, so lately I haven't done much of either one, let alone both together.

Funny enough, I am making spaghetti sauce for dinner tonight. I cheated, though: jar plus paste plus diced tomatoes plus wine. No fresh tomatoes were harmed in the making of this sauce.

Tomorrow's orientation at the clinic should be interesting. During school, a few of my classmates were assigned to where I'm going, and they got to do some triage and other skills. I'm hoping that as I'm licensed, I'll be able to do much more there. I don't really want to be stuck in some back room filing paperwork or organizing a stock cabinet or other clerical grunt work.

Oh yeah

I had one more rejection late last night from one of the new jobs I applied to. I give this one hospital credit: not only do they let you know you are rejected (which is a BIG step over most of the other hospitals around here), they do it fast.

July 20, 2009

Monday rolls in

Today's progress: two rejections. Two new applications...different jobs than the rejections, though. One follow-up to be told, "we have nothing now, sorry." No status changes on my other applications...though I feel some small perverse satisfaction that several of the listings I applied for have been updated to indicate "experience required", where before they had made no mention of it. Guess they are paying attention to me and the 50,000 other new graduate applicants.

Finding meaningful employment is frustrating. Then again, I wake up late, drive past a rush hour traffic jam, or feel a nice breeze while I'm sitting in my yard and I think, "What's the rush in finding work?" I guess I want it all. Heh.

At least the clinic isn't rejecting me. I dropped off my application and have orientation this week. I've never worked in a clinic before so it'll be a novel experience. It'd be nicer if I were paid for it, sure...but after two-plus years of schooling and getting licensed, I want to go out and use what I've been working so hard at learning. I'm also afraid that if I don't get out and use my skills in some way, shape or form, that I'll lose them. A clinic is no med-surg floor, but it's at least something. It'll also help keep me competitive for the supposed fall "opening up" for new grads.

I think a problem I'm having is that I've spent the last two-plus years functioning at such an intense, hectic, high-paced level. Never really had a chance to breathe while in nursing school (not even on vacation), then after graduation the pace kept up all the way through boards. Now after getting licensed, life's dropped down to a much more laid-back and slower speed. I don't have to be busy all of the time, and things don't happen right away. That speed change is going to take some time to get used to on my part.

I should get back into my hobbies though...and get around to watching that Netflix movie I've had for almost a year now.

July 19, 2009

The Routine

I pretty much have the job hunt down to a daily routine:

  • First thing in the morning, log into local hospital website, look at status of applications and then for any new listings
  • Then look through e-mails from job search sites, see if I qualify for any. More often than not...I don't--that damn "1 year experience" requirement
  • Browse around the web at career sites, forums, local company sites, then just surf aimlessly
  • Apply (as applicable) to what jobs I do find
  • Tweak the resume and cover letters
  • Log off and forget about it for a while. Pointless to wait by the phone, as no one's calling. Same with the e-mail, as no one's writing.
  • Repeat the above at three in the afternoon and once more at nine at night
Tough economy for new grads, can't you tell?

I don't know what is more annoying--seeing all of these listings saying "experience required/no new grads/etc." or applying for the few that I can and never hear anything back. Supposedly things are going to open up in the fall...in the meanwhile, I can't sit around and do nothing. I picked up ACLS; I can't afford PALS right now thanks to ACLS. So now I'm off to apply for volunteer work at some local facilities. Hopefully the job market isn't that bad that I get turned away from there as well :)