August 31, 2009

First day

Nothing much to tell, really:  it was your typical orientation.  Lots of videos, lots of speakers, lots of paperwork, lots of food (yes, they fed us), and a PPD...also a refresher on EPS symptoms and treatment.  Tomorrow promises to be more of the same sans PPD and EPS.  I did learn that you need a sense of humor to survive as a psych nurse...not necessarily with the patients though.  It's more for dealing with the other employees.

I did a little research into my thyroid test results:  a high T4 and a low TSH could be hyperthyroidism...or it could be due to excessive iodine consumption.  They really want me to see an endocrinologist so I told them to go ahead and start the referral, and I'm still off of the salt.  It's been a challenge--I couldn't eat some of the food at work today because it was too bland even with a ton of pepper on it.  I know, my taste buds will readjust eventually.

Of course now that I'm employed, a hospital calls wanting to set up an interview.  It's a 12's position, so I had to decline.  But I explained why, they understood, and they're going to forward my application to the recruiter who handles the 8's--the office positions and such.  Still holding out hope for #1 hospital to get to me, but I can't wait on them forever.

August 30, 2009

Moving onto weightier topics

Now that the job is sorted out, this should leave me more energy to focus on my weight.  It's not pretty.

I stepped on the scale the other day to see that the first two digits were about to change in the wrong direction.  I was alarmed since I have been spending the last couple of weeks exercising and watching what I eat.  And though I have fallen victim to late night snacking, I doubt that that alone would cause a 5lb weight gain in one week, especially with exercising and watching what I eat.  So I got myself to the doctor to talk about weight loss.

I know, being a nurse I should (and do!) already know this stuff--in fact, I counseled a few patients at the clinic about it--but I guess it's kind of hard to see it when the patient is yourself.

He told me that they do not prescribe diet pills and I told him that's just as well as I do not trust diet pills nor do I want to take them.  With my family's health history, I have always had an intense fear that I'd be one of the few people you hear about that try a diet capsule for the first time and die from cardiac arrest.  I'm not kidding--I won't even consider taking Alli and all that one does is block fat absorption.

He did a diabetes screening and a TSH test.  The blood glucose is flawless, but the TSH results are not in yet.  We talked exercise--he said that I'm doing good there, but to try to get some more aerobic exercise in (the workout DVD is more sculpting).  Then we talked about diet and even more changes that I could make.  He suggested that I go to a 1200 calorie diet.  I think that's a bit extreme for myself and my activity level, but it couldn't hurt to try it for a couple of weeks and go from there.

We also discussed sodium since my blood pressure was high at the visit--this was the first time in my life that it was in the Stage 1 HTN category.   I like salt.  It's never affected my blood pressure before--all my life, my BP has always been normal or low normal until now.  I guess it's finally catching up with me, so I had to honestly fess up about my sodium usage.  Since one HTN reading does not a HTN diagnosis make, he didn't want me to do a radical sodium diet overhaul (yet) but he did suggest that I get rid of my salt shaker.

So since the visit, I have not used extra salt on anything.  My God, is that going to take a lot of getting used to!  I hauled out all the Mrs. Dash bottles that I have, and have been trying them out.

Update:  the doctor called.  TSH is normal, T4 is...elevated.  He thinks this is likely not the cause of my weight gain.  I was told that I could make an appointment if I wanted to discuss the T4 further or get a referral to endocrinology if I wanted.  I might do that after orientation--the doctor didn't indicate it was at a critical level or that I had to come in stat.  For now, I'll dig out my nursing school textbooks and read up on it.  Perhaps all of that iodized salt I had been eating has something to do with it...

So it's official

I've been feeling pretty good since I accepted the offer (though still mourning the loss of med-surg).  Immediate and extended family are all happy because they didn't want to see me separated from the little one for such long days...though it's been the target of good-natured jokes because both sides of my family have warped senses of humor--I've heard enough "the inmate's running the asylum now" and "do they know you're crazy?" quips from them to last a lifetime.

My coworkers at the clinic were also happy to hear that I got hired, and happier to hear that I'll still be volunteering there for the foreseeable future.

The paperwork is signed, and the scrubs and PsychNotes clinical guide have been purchased.  I started soliciting "new grad starting out" advice from a couple of nursing forums that I visit, and I've dug out the nursing magazines so I can start reading some of the psych articles.   Oh yes, I better find the drug book and start committing those to memory.

The fun begins next week with orientation, then I can start scheduling when I want to work.  They really need 2nd and 3rd shifts, which are a minor childcare problem...though not as bad as the ones I'd face when dealing with 12 hour shifts.  I have to work a minimum number of shifts per month, but I can schedule many more than that if I want to.  So if I turn out to really like psych nursing, I can work more often.  If I don't like it or if I need to scratch the med-surg itch, I can work less often while look for a med-surg job somewhere.  Heck, I could have both the psych job and a med-surg  job (both being part-time or one full/one part) if I wanted.

Let me take it a step at a time, though.  The opportunity to go into med-surg will always be there.  I'm in psych nursing now, and I intend to go in giving it my all--that's the only way I will ever find out if I'll like it.  Also, I take every job I have seriously, and this one is no exception.

It's been weird not having to job hunt anymore.  I still glance at listings and what comes into my mailbox, but now out of curiosity.  I'm still keeping on good terms with local hospitals (especially #1 hospital), to see if anything comes up in the part-time and/or 8-hour shift realm that I may be interested in.  But for the most part, I wake up in the mornings feeling very peaceful.   I'm feeling a little strange as I'm one of the only ones in my class not going into med-surg...but I have a classmate already working where I will be so at least I'm not the only one in psych.

I received a rejection from the HR person at the  SNF that I applied to a few weeks ago (and which hired my friend for another shift)--at least they finally gave me some closure.  They never said why I wasn't accepted nor will I ask.  Funny though:  in today's classifieds, I see they are still recruiting for RNs...and now for a HR person.  Go fig.

I also need to get my stuff sent off to the Mollen clinics.  Also, the clinic asked me if I want to volunteer for their flu clinics--you know I'll say Yes to them.

Since this post is getting long enough, I'll start another one for the weight.

August 26, 2009

It looks like life wants me to be...

a psych nurse.  I accepted the long-shot job.  

I decided that the long hours at the other one would not be fair to my little one, and as much as I'd have loved to worked med-surg, what the little one would have had to go through was just not worth it.  Down the road, when he's older and my better half's schedule is more stable, then I'll be able to go and work 12 hour shifts.  But for right now, this is best. 

And as a couple of nurse friends pointed out to me:  I'm young (fairly) and my career has just started.  There's plenty of time ahead of me to change specialities and put in the long hospital hours....whereas my little one is little only once.

So here I am:  Meriwhen the Psychiatric RN.  I have to go in tomorrow to do the paperwork and schedule orientation. 

At least this job will leave me enough time to look for another part-time job somewhere if I need it.  I can still keep volunteering as well.  Also, this can keep me in consideration for that job at that unit in #1 hospital should it ever become a reality...and which I happen to know would be 8s.


The interview went well...really well, in fact. I'd love to work there. The problem: it's 12 hour shifts, not 8 hours as I was lead to believe.  Weekends are not a problem--it's the weekdays that are: there's a gap of 2-3 hours that I'm not sure I can arrange childcare coverage for. I have a couple of friends that I have thought about asking if they'd want to make extra money by sitting for him those days--I'd keep the arrangement strictly business so impact on our friendship is minimized (i.e., I don't want her to feel like I'm using/taking advantage of her for childcare). I'm debating if I want to ask them to do that.

I'm trying to see what I can come up with, as well as take some time to think it over and see if it's the right decision for me and my little one. But I'm having a feeling that I will have to say No to an offer I get from them...and that's killing me.

August 25, 2009

Well damn...

No matter what happens tomorrow, I could be a hospital-employed RN by Monday:  the long-shot job came though.  They made me an offer for part-time.  I didn't accept yet--I want to go on tomorrow's interview first and see what happens.  But we agreed that I will give them an answer either way on Friday.

 It's all go today, isn't it?

The reason long-shot job was long-shot was that it's in Psych...which I have zero experience in save for clinicals.  But psych's an interesting field and I figured I had nothing to lose, so off I went and applied.  No way in hell did I think I'd even come near an offer...but now I have one.

 To be honest, I'm more a med-surg sheep at heart, and tomorrow's job has that advantage (it's PCU)., Psych nursing job has the advantage of being part-time and fascinating enough that I'd probably enjoy it very much. 

 We shall see what happens tomorrow.

Interview scored

On my last night of job hunting vacation, I had a couple of glasses of wine (large ones, but in my defense, I was upset over the verification mess), watched "A Night in Casablanca" and "Top Secret", and had to rip out the heel of my sock twice because I wasn't knitting it right.  I also vented long and loud to my better half, who was just as outraged as I was over it.   He was wise enough to leave me to brood afterwards, especially when I started fighting out loud with my sock on the second rip-back.

Today I went back to "work."  I have to admit that as frustrating as it can get, it feels good to be back on the job hunt.  I feel productive.

This morning was spent calling every place I applied to in order to let them know about the lost work record at former job and that they can now contact former job for the correct employment history.   Basically, I've spent a lot of time talking to voice mailboxes.   Overall, this snafu with my prior job is turning out to be a blessing because when it comes down to it, my having to call has reminded employers that I do exist...and it's a pretty damn good reason for me to be calling to, so I don't feel any nervousness or hesitancy when calling, as I might feel if I were calling to "follow-up on my application status."   I just confidently explain what happened, that they can verify my employment now, and that I was sorry for any inconvenience.

It also got some results:  one hospital I spoke to said that I'd be the first new grad they refer when more positions come up--they had gotten my message and re-reviewed my file, and it seems both volunteering and getting my certifications has now been a boost to my marketability.

Even more surprising:  another hospital offered me an interview.  Again, the cincher for their manager to interview me was the certifications and volunteer work.  I was stunned, especially since this hospital rarely calls me (and when they do, it's usually to reject me).  I told the recruiter I could be there in 20 minutes--I just had to iron my pants and feed the cat.  But we settled on tomorrow.  I know there's no guarantees and I'm certainly not going to suspend the job hunt over it, but I damn well am going to do my best tomorrow.  I've just ironed the outfit and I'm going to really rehearse my interview questions today.

Long-shot job (to whom I will always be grateful for bringing this to my attention) is having issues getting another position verified though...but that's because no one's in the building right now:  it's a school.    And I need to call #1 hospital:  the manager of one of the units invited me to come visit her floor, so I'd like to set that up. 

If it ever came down to between the hospital tommorrow and #1 hospital offering me on the same day, I'd take #1 hospital. But since there is nothing definite at #1 hospital...if I got it, I'd take tomorrow's job with no regrets. First, I'm afraid that the longer I'm out of work, the rustier my skills will get and the harder it will be for me to get into any job. It's not a horrible unit that I'm interviewing's very nice one, in fact.  I'd learn a lot there, and having done clinicals on that type of unit, I'd know what to expect in general.  Overall, I'd probably be very happy if I got the job from tomorrow's interview and worked for them.

Plus, it's not like I'm being flooded with job offers or even job interviews, so I should grab what I can get, eh?

But let's see what happens tomorrow.

August 24, 2009

At least something good came of the mess

I called Mollen to let them know they may need to re-verify my prior employment, and they offered me an immunization clinic job.

I've still bummed though. It's just so frustrating to have put so much into my job hunt and having no luck, then to find out my old job misplaced my employment records. That plus hearing that yet more classmates got offers did my emotions in...

I feel like crawling under a rock to hide for the night.

Well, this f*****g sucks!

Long-shot job called me today.  They went to verify my employment, and my former job told them they had no record of me working there!   So long-shot job asked me to call former job to see what I could find out.  Which I did...and was told the same thing:  I didn't exist. 

Now, I know I did, as I had saved every performance evaluation and paystub (don't ask me why) from my 4 years there, plus I have the 403b that they opened for me.  Plus, I designed one department's entire intranet website which I'm told is still in use. 

I tell former job this, as well as provide them with every single bit of identifying information that I can.  They say they'll see what they can find.

Meanwhile, I call long-shot back:  they said that they'd consider the pay stubs and evaluations as proof of employment if I bring them in. 

An hour later, former job calls:  yes, they did find my file--it was in the wrong place.  The director of HR is putting it back in the system personally.  I apologized for being sharp with him but explained that it was distressing to learn that they are telling people I never worked there.

Now, I am fuming because who else has my former job told that I don't exist?  Maybe this is why no one is calling me back after these interviews?  And why hasn't anyone else besides long-shot called me to say, "hey, we had a problem verifying your employment with one of your past employers, so you may want to check it out."

I started leaving messages at a couple of places that I had applications put in it, letting them know what was up and that they may want to call my former job again to re-verify my employment.  I'm anxious to talk to #1 hospital tomorrow so they know what happened; I don't want anything to possibly ruin my chances there.

I was going to end my job hunting vacation on Wednesday, especially since PALS was rescheduled:  I was the only person who is registered for the class this week, so they asked me if I wouldn't mind moving my enrollment to the class next month.  I told them that was fine--I don't need it right away, and so I'd hate to put them through the inconvenience of having a class just for me for no good reason.   I figured I'd take today and tomorrow and just veg a bit more, maybe start on the next book in the pile (The Oxford Illustrated History of Britain...which is NOT going to be a 90 minute read).

But now given this mess, I think it's best if I get back to "work" tomorrow to straighten this out.

Yay me.

August 23, 2009


I took today off from the DVD workout...the soreness has improved, but I apparently did something to my knee during the night.  Ibuprofen isn't working either.  In addition, since Friday I've done little but sleep.  I put in 10 hours Friday night, napped on Saturday, put in another 9 on Saturday night, and have only been awake for a few hours...but I'm ready to crawl into bed for more sleep.  Unfortunately, it's just me and the little one today, so I can't really nap until he naps...and he's given up napping.

Studying for PALS has gone by the wayside.  I'll try later after I get even more coffee in me, but think I'll have to dedicate all of Monday to prepare for it. 

I did manage to finish Girl with a Pearl Earring though.  I knew it was going to be light fare--I went through it in about 90 minutes.  It was a really good book though...I haven't seen all of the movie so I don't know how closely the two run together.  I don't know what's next on the reading list...I think that next time I pass by the stack of books, I'll just grab one and see what it is.

I cheated and read the classifieds today.  There's a few new things that I'll have to consider applying to on Thursday when the job-hunting vacation ends (if they're still there, that is).  But that's all I've done is just read them.

August 22, 2009

Ow ow ow

My workout DVD guarantees visible results in 10 workouts.  So far the only visible results are a steady stream of "Ow" as I walk, bend, sit, and breathe.  It's not debilitating, but definitely not comfortable.  Ibuprofen 600mg is fast becoming my new best friend.  I think I may need to skip the workout today.

This body is definitely not bikini-ready or even appears the slightest bit different...but in all fairness, I'm sure they meant 10 complete workouts.  Yesterday was the first day I finally managed to get through a complete workout, so I need to start the countdown from there.    And no, I'm not stepping on the scale yet, not until I'm certain the first two digits of my weight has changed.

The vacation from job hunting is getting easier.  I've been less stressed lately than I have in a long while.  It's nice to only have to deal with the loose ends instead of knocking myself trying to find places, sending out applications and trying to score interviews.   I didn't even look at the classifieds in the last couple of days.  I have had to avoid Facebook, MySpace, and other social sites though, as I didn't want to have to read about the latest person getting hired or how their new jobs are going. 

Speaking of loose ends, I never did call that SNF that I had the second interview at.  As I mentioned before, she didn't sound too thrilled with me calling last time, so I decided that since they have my correct phone number (and they do--their HR called me at it once), they know where to find me if they need me.  Meanwhile, still no word on the long-shot job, but I'm not expecting to hear from them for a while.

I went to the job fair (the other loose end) and a ton of other new graduates because guess which table had the longest line?  Again, they told us that they have a large pool of new graduates and they are trying to place them as soon as they can.  But at least I got to talk to managers, give them my resume, and let them put a face to my name.  A few managers said that they'd ask for my file, which is encouraging.  But everyone was really nice, even if they weren't planning to consider a new grad for their department...and this is the reason that this is the #1 hospital I want to work for:  they don't treat me like new grad slime.  They may not be able to give me a job ASAP, but they're nice about it and treat me with respect.  That's something I remember--after all, how they're going to treat me in the hiring process usually reflects how they'll treat me as an employee.

There was one unit that I'm really interested in and their manager was very impressed with me and my resume, and I think that meeting went very well--we were talking for at least a half-hour and it never flagged.  She told me all about the unit and that I'd fit well on it, and from what she said about it, I'd have to agree.  That's all I'll say right now as I don't want to jinx it, and there are certainly no guarantees...but please pray for me that something comes through with it so I can die happy.

But you know what?  Even if nothing comes from it or from the job fair as a whole, I am pleased with how it went, because at least I had a chance to talk to managers.  My application wasn't just tossed aside without a single word because I was a new graduate without that year's experience, or because I wasn't a graduate of their own program.  I was given a chance to sell myself, and if I blew it, then it was on my own merits...but I at least had the chance.  Which is more than what a lot of places--hospitals and otherwise--have given me lately.

As a non-nursing friend summed it up when I told her about how I felt:  "I'm not a monster!"

Friday was at the clinic.  Training was over, so I flew solo for the first time and overall performed well.  My time there is truly the happiest part of my week.  Friday night, I went to bed at 10 and slept 10 hours.  I'm still tired but I feel better.  Also, I ache in a new way because when I went to bed at 10, it was because I fell asleep on the floor with the little one.  So in addition to the soreness from the workout, I'm also stiff from spending 5 of those 10 hours on a hard floor.

Mildred Pierce the book doesn't end the same way as the movie, by the way--in fact, how it ended was definitely a twist from what was expected.  It's still a good read.  Girl With a Pearl Earring is next on the book list, as I've apparently checked that one out too.  That one's a thin book, so I'm thinking it's a day's read. 

But before I need to do anything, I better start a coffee IV in my arm stat.

August 20, 2009

Rough first day off

No sooner did I get off the computer and open up Mildred Pierce did a hospital recruiter call to reject me from two positions. That must be a form of progress: usually they never call me to let me know I'm rejected--they just let me wallow in limbo and I hear it through the grapevine.  Either that, or they're dropping hints for me to stop applying.

Then a classmate/friend calls up with a possible lead--unit manager position coming up...except that they want experience and I have none.  Still, she tells me to go over and try because she thinks that the lady she spoke to will give me honest feedback.  I tell her I'll see.  Maybe I will go see after my vacation because there is something about the job that isn't calling me to drop everything and apply to it.

Then another classmate messages me to tell me her unit is hiring.   I thanked her and said that I had already put in for the opening online, so unless she wants to tell her manager about me, there's not much else I can do.  She's not as close to me as my friend is, so I feel no discomfort in telling her to tell her manager about me.  And yet I can't say that to my friend, who I know who would try to pull out all the stops she could with her manager on my behalf, because I feel like I'd be using her.   That's how it is...go figure.

Then my father-in-law called, and I had to tell him that I didn't want to hear anymore about how they're running after nurses with job offers where they live--I said to him that I'm not up there, I can't be up there, and to hear that isn't making me feel any better, but makes me feel like even more the reject so for the love of God, please stop.  He took the rebuke well.

Then Mom called asked if I heard anything and when I told her that I'm used to being rejected, she kept saying "oh, you can't think like that, you did so well in school".  I told her that this was reality--there's too many graduate nurses out there who "did so well in school" if not better, that rejection is my reality and and me thinking happy thoughts alone is not get me a job.  She did not take the rebuke well.

Then I get a message from another classmate: she just got hired at a hospital. I'm very happy for her--she deserves it-- but it still hurts to hear it, especially since this was her very first interview.  Again, I couldn't help but think what was wrong with me.

It was all I could do to throw myself at the computer and call the whole vacation off.

But I resisted.  Instead I finished Mildred Pierce, colored my hair, dug out some yarn, and watched an old movie--"Carry on Cleo"--while I worked on a project.  I didn't sleep very well though...I kept dreaming about job interviews.

Today seems to be starting off better.  I ignored the e-mail notices.  I did start reading the classifieds--out of habit--before I caught myself and put them down.  I'm avoiding the "Job Hunt" section of bookmarks in my browser.   I decided to skip one job fair, especially after I heard about the soaring crime rate in the area in which the hospital is located.  That, plus the fact that they only seem to be offering nights, plus the hour-plus commute it would take to get there...all of that stress isn't going to be worth it.  I'm supposed to be trying to relax this weekend.

So today's plan is to get some exercise in--I took the ibuprofen for the knee, and I'm waiting for it to kick in--then print out resumes for the other job fair (with #1 hospital), then perhaps start another book. 

I started an exercise DVD:  it's cardio with resistance cords.  It has been tough:  on the very first day, I couldn't get past the warm-up.  But I keep plugging away at it, and have been able to get a little more of it done each day (I took yesterday off from it due to soreness).  Right now, I can get to the 23 minute mark...I'm not the most graceful person doing it, but I can get there.  There is a high entertainment value to it though:  my little one has developed a crush on the instructor and when I do the video, he's next to me trying to exercise along.

I've also been trying to watch what I eat, but with much less success.  I do all right until about 10pm:  that's when I fall prone to mindless snacking.

I received two phone calls:  a rejection (again, that lack of a year's experience), and an encouraging one from #2 hospital about something that may be opening up and she wants me to follow up with her in a few weeks.

I do have to follow up with that SNF...I'll do it later.  Though truth be told, with how brusque she was on the phone with me the last time I called, I am tempted to say, "No, I called once--I'll wait for her."  Then I think about not getting hired while everyone I know is, and think "Yes, I should call."  But after my exercise.   I think in 10 minutes, my knee will be ready to go.

August 19, 2009

How to deal with rejection (articles)

I'm on "vacation"

Last night I told my better half that I was taking a week off from job hunting because there was nothing new to be found right now and I'm burned out from trying.  This was just a formality--I was planning to take the time off anyway regardless, but it's always nice to have the better half's understanding, if not his support.

"Sure!  Take two weeks," he replied.  "Take all the time you need."

"I think a week will be fine for now."  I replied. 

Well, that was painless.

Lest you think I lead a lifestyle of the young and wealthy...we're just staying in the same budgeting mode that we spent the last few years in while I went to school.  We're not well-off, but we're not struggling either because we've been smart about our expenses--we've chopped out all the frills from the budget, and when we do spend it's sensibly.   We rarely go out on the town, and our last vacation was in 2003--since then, we decided on season passes at our local theme park/resort instead of taking trips.  The only one who really gets any of the extras is the little one.'s glance at the newspapers and job sites confirmed my decision: there is nothing new for RNs here. There was one position at a hospital that I put in for, and then that's it. From now until next Wednesday: I'll follow-up on anything that I've put applications in for prior to this and I'll still do tomorrow's job fairs, but that's it. No active hunting. The classifieds will be ignored; so will the job sites and e-mails notices. No trolling the phone book looking for places to contact.  No working on the resume and cover letters.  Not even going to read the books I had out on the library on nursing careers and resumes.

In short, nothing at all. I am on vacation.

Next stop:  sitting outside with a glass of sangria and a book!

I have to admit, the "what if"-s entered my mind:  e.g., "what if I miss the perfect job opportunity during this week off?"  First, I decided that based on recent trends, I'm probably NOT going to miss a job opportunity because I doubt few if any will come up in this week.  Second...if I did miss it, then it wasn't meant to be for me anyway. 

So I'm off on holiday, though I'll stil post since I do have things on my mind.  Time for me to grab that book...speaking of the book, I'm almost done with "Mildred Pierce."  It's a really good book.  I had seen the movie version a few years ago so I basically know how it's going to end...the movie is excellent, by the way.  Joan Crawford deserved the Oscar that she got for it.

August 18, 2009


Looking at the classifieds in today's paper, I realized that today's job listings haven't changed from Sunday's...which hardly changed from last week's.   Searching on the job/career sites, I realized that the listings haven't changed much either.  Same thing at the hospitals.  There were a couple of ones that I didn't apply to--which I did apply to today--but which had been listed before.  I think I have hit a dead end...for now. 

To be honest, maybe now is the time for me to take off a couple of weeks off of that job hunt, instead of waiting until next week.  I'm dead-ended on job listings, I'm in limbo waiting for the SNF and the long-shot job to call me back (more on the SNF in a minute), I'm feeling rather bummed, I've got family issues going on--not my immediate family, but my parents...also, the weather is FINALLY beautiful for a change--the rain seems to have stopped.  I can actually see a blue sky.  It might be nice to go out and enjoy it.  

I think it's time to give myself permission to take some time off from the exercise in futility and just sloth. 

Regardless of what I decide, I have PALS next week.  And I have two career fairs to go to this week.  One of them is being hosted as my number one choice hospital, so I will attend at least that one.  I'm not expecting any miracles--the last time I talked to #1, nurse recruiter explained that there's still a waiting list for new grads--but it could not hurt to keep reminding myself of them.  Besides, there may be a nurse manager there who would be willing to talk to me.  So I'm definitely going to that one--I want to try to make both, though.  They are on the same day, but at different I'll be doing a lot of driving.  Which is cool--I like driving.  It gives me time to school, it also used to give me time to study thanks to recording lectures.  And speaking of listening pleasure, I'll have to update the songs on my mp3 player.

So, the SNF update.  My friend working there messaged me last night, asking her if I had heard about the job yet.

"No", I said.  "I'll call Thursday.  When I spoke to the manager last week she seemed non-plussed that I even called, so she probably doesn't' want to hear from me so soon."

"I wish you'd come over to my unit," says my friend (she's the charge nurse-to-be).  "They need weekend help.  I heard her talking to HR about it."

"Well, if they don't consider me for this unit maybe they'll look at me for yours," says I.  "Personally, the interviewer is taking so long to call me back that long-shot job is looking better and better all the time."

Now, if I were aggressive, I'd have told my friend to sell me on her unit manager.  But I can't bring myself to do that...I'm having a hard time even hinting to her to have them look into my application.  I'd feel like I'm taking advantage of her.  And I definitely don't want to jepordize her new job by acting as my PR agent.  Nor do I want to jeapordize my own application.

But on the other hand, I know:  if you don't ask, you don't get.  So let me see what happens when I call on Thursday.  Perhaps if I'm rejected or get no answer, I'll just ask my friend to tell her manager that she (friend) knows someone (me) who could fill the weekend-help need.  She would--that much I do know about my friend.

Anyhow...I tracked down the 19 books I have out from the library.  Well, 17 books and 2 DVDs.  Two are nursing skills books.  Two are nursing career/resume help books.  Three were for the little one (as well as one of the DVDs).  Several were on British history (I have an interest).  Two are sci-fi.   And then there's "Mildred Pierce," which I started today.  If I take that job-hunting hiatus, maybe I'll see how many I can knock off in that time.

August 17, 2009

Another week

By the way, those brownies won a chocolate contest on Saturday.  I really suggest you give them a try.

So, another week of job hunting begins.  I already stopped by the hospital websites and threw my application at a few more jobs.  I'm getting a little more aggressive in what I'm choosing--I figure if they say "experience preferred" or "experienced" but don't give an actual yardstick such as 1 year, 2 years, etc., then they're fair game for me to apply to.  I also placed a call with one of them (not my first choice one) because I had some questions about applying...let's see if they call me back (the fact that they hardly do is why they're not my first choice one).

In a bit I'm going to go through Sunday's classifieds and see if there's anything new.  I will say this:  there's so few of them in the paper and they hardly change that it's very easy for me to find if there is something new.  And what's old:  the SNFs I applied to are still advertising their spots.  Hmm...on Thursday or so, I'll have to call the one I had the second interview at.  Again:  don't want to pester them; don't want to be forgotten either.

 Then I'm going to see about and those career websites.  I know I have profiles on them from waybackwhen, before I entered nursing, and I think it's time I made sure all of them are up to speed.  And someone gave me the number of the immunization clinic to call, so I'll jump on that and see where it leads.  After all, the worst thing they can tell me is "No" and I'm used to hearing that.

Enough about that.

It's time to tackle the weight.   I finally had my personal weight nadir this weekend.  I put on a pajama shirt and noted how uncomfortable it was:  boy, did it cling to my stomach.  The sad part is that it's a LOOSE cut shirt!  That's not the only piece of clothing that has insulted me:  shorts that were once too big are fitting.  Shorts that were once fitting do not.  I'm photographing horribly.  I look horrible in the mirror.  I feel horrible. 

I'm not even stepping on the scale:  I know what the first two digits are going to read and so I really don't need to look at the 3rd.

So I thought about it this morning over coffee:  if I want to do something about my weight, then I'm going to have to approach it on the same level as I am approaching this job hunt:  seriously, like it's a job.  I can't do it half-assed.  I can't let my frustration with the job hunt be my excuse for eating poorly and slothing around.  Hell, I can't let the job hunt itself be my excuse:  yes, I'm job hunting for a bulk of the day but I can damn well carve out time to exercise.

I will definitely have to make dietary changes.  I will have to make more sensible choices.  I will have to cut back on things (I know giving things like those brownies up entirely is a recipe for disaster but I can be sensible about how much of them I eat).  I will have to modify how I cook (no, those brownies can't be made low-fat/carb, but there's a lot of my cooking that I can improve upon).  I will have to exercise more.  I have this lovely Y membership and I can't remember the last time I saw the inside of it.  I also have a stack of fitness DVDs that sit here collecting dust--if I'm not going to the gym, the least I can do is put one of them in the machine and exercise at home.

I'm going to have to do something about my bad knee though.  Yes, I have a valid knee problem that makes it hard to exercise.  I can walk on the treadmill but strength training is painful.   There is a fix for it:  it needs to be strengthened...with some exercise.   So I need to find some good knee exercises that I can do so I can get it up to snuff and start doing fitness exercises.

This means for you, you're now going to hear about my struggles to lose weight as well as to find a job.  No worries:  just skip over the content that doesn't interest you.  It won't offend me.

I also really need to start studying for PALS.  I know, I've been saying this for weeks...but the class is next week, so I better start swimming now because from the looks of this book, it could sink me.

August 15, 2009

And now a break from job hunting woes to bring you a recipe

These are dark chocolate brownies that perfect for those of us who don't like our chocolate too sweet. The base recipe came from King Arthur's flour; I modified it to make this. Since they are nearly black in color, I call them...

Blackout Brownies

1 c. unsalted butter (about 2 sticks)
2 1/4 c. white sugar
1 1/4 c. dark chocolate or semi-sweet cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. pure vanilla extract (use artificial and I will haunt you to your grave)
4 large eggs
2 1/2 c. white flour, preferably unbleached
1 12 oz. bag semi-sweet chocolate chips or morsels.

1 pot
1 stove top
1 13x9 baking pan, preferably stoneware
1 oven preheated to 350 F

In the pot, melt the butter over low heat on your stove top.

Add the sugar and heat slowly over low heat until hot but not bubbling. Stir frequently and pay attention to it because the line between hot and scorched is a thin one--if you burn it you'll taste it in the brownies.

When hot, remove from heat. Stir in cocoa, baking powder, salt and vanilla, and mix until smooth.

Add in all four eggs, and mix until smooth.

Stir in the flour, and mix until smooth.

Stir in the chips...and yes, mix until smooth.

Spread the mixture into a greased 13x9 pan.

Place in oven. Cook for 28-33 minutes at 350 F, or until knife stuck in the center comes out clean or nearly so. It's better to slightly undercook them than overcook them, so a few clinging crumbs are OK.

Remove and cool somewhat before serving. Store leftover brownies in an airtight container at room temperature.

Serves 1 to 12, depending on how much you like brownies.

For a richer flavor, substitute brown sugar for white.

For a different flavor, replace some/all of the vanilla extract with the flavored extract of your choice (almond, mint, etc.). I've experimented over the years with various flavors, and whatever flavor you choose, I do recommend you keep some vanilla in--it's OK if you add a little extra extract(s) than the 1 tbsp listed. 1.5 or even 2 tbsp will not kill the recipe.

If you prefer more sweetness, replace chips and/or cocoa with regular instead of semi-sweet.

You can also stir about 1/2 c. to 1 c. nuts with the chips.

Do NOT make this in a 9x9 or 8x8 pan. The problem here is that those pans results in it taking a lot longer for the brownies to cook in the center, with the outside brownies coming out tougher. So keep that in mind if you really want to use a 9x9 or smaller. On the other hand, if you use a larger pan (e.g. 13x17) instead, your brownies will be thinner and cooking time will be less so adjust accordingly.

Disturbing news

So something came up at the SNF.  Besides my friend, there's another of my school's graduates training there-- she graduated six months earlier than my friend and I.  I know who she is; she's a nice girl.  But my friend reports that the older grad does not know how to do most of the nursing skills...and we're not talking complex stuff:  we're talking the basics like NG tubes, blood draws, IM injections, just to name a few.  Friend reports that older grad's skills booklet (a book we have where instructors check us off on various skills that we've performed) is hardly filled.  In addition, all though the orientation, my friend reports that older grad keep saying, "oh, they never taught us that," or "I guess I fell through the cracks."  So they asked her what nursing school she went to, and then they wondered to my friend how older grad managed to graduate.

My friend explained that older grad graduated before us, have some different instructors and so had different experiences.  My friend also said that she (friend) got to do a lot more and that whatever she hadn't done or didn't know, that she knew where to look to find it. 

I'm worried is that they're going to look at me having graduated from the same school, and think I must be in the same boat with the older grad.  And there's nothing I can do about it.  I'm not going to pester the SNF with calls.  I think my friend dropped a few hints to the SNF that skillwise I'm more on par with her (friend) than with older grad...but I'm not about to put my friend to work promoting me when she's only on her first week's orientation.   

 So all I can do is sit here and hope for the best.

August 14, 2009

The dishwasher is installed.  I'm in love.

So yesterday, I called the SNF and got through to the manager.  She told me that they're still considering applications and she'll let me know.  I asked her if it was all right if I'd follow-up again next week.  At least it's better than an outright "No".  Plus, scuttlebutt from my friend says that they've really got some important stuff coming up next week that they need to prep for and things have really gotten crazy there.   Then after the call, I decided that since I was still feeling a little bleak from yesterday, that I'd take a break from job hunting.  I put my energies into cleaning house.  If I were really wise, I'd put those energies on the treadmill...but the floors really needed a sweeping and mopping. 

I'm feeling better.  Getting the frustrations out the other day helped...though as I told my friend, I still can't help but feel like the failure at times.  Fortunately, she takes no crap from me and straightened me back out onto the positive track.

Today was my day at the clinic.  I love Fridays, when I get to go and volunteer.  As I was telling my supervisor there:  the rest of the week, when I'm applying for work and people learn I'm a new grad, recruiters groan, employers are rude or say "don't bother applying", no one calls me back, everyone says "sorry, you need experience"...I'm basically rejected left and right.   But I come to the clinic to volunteer...and for one day a week, I'm wanted.  People are happy to see me.  Patients are happy to see me.   They treat me like a peer, not like new grad slime.  I feel like I am doing something important for people who really need it.

In short, at the clinic I'm appreciated.  It feels wonderful. 

That's a feeling you can't always get from a paycheck.  And that's why I keep going back.

It was a slow day so I was able to get out early before the deluge started.  Got online, tinked around at the usual job and hospital sites, put in a couple of applications for jobs that I damn well know I won't get but figured that the 1% chance is better than the 0% chance I'd have if I didn't apply, then decided to call it a day at "work."  Progress report:  overall, no changes.  

I'd consider ordering Chinese food, but it's raining pretty bad now.  I'm watching my street flood...don't worry--the cat and I are not going to float off.   We're high enough up from the water.   It's a good day for staying in and reading.  In fact, this would be a good weekend to tackle the books:  I went to the library to renew one of my books and found out that I have 19 items checked out. 

When in the world did I check them out?  And where the hell in the house are these 19 books?

August 12, 2009

Sometimes it's really hard...

Not to feel bitter about how the job hunt is going.   Not to feel bitter towards the facilities for treating new graduates like we have rabies.   Not to feel bitter towards the hospitals for bragging about how much they are recruiting but who also plaster "No New Grads" in bold print on every job announcement that they post. Not to feel bitter towards recruiters who at the best seem like they'd rather not be bothered with new grads, and at the worst are outright hostile towards us.

 Not to feel bitter at LPNs and CNAs who, based on all of the job postings I see for them, apparently only have to close their eyes and throw a rock, and they're guaranteed to hit on a job offer.  Not to feel bitter towards classmates that managed to land jobs.  Not to feel bitter towards anyone who has managed to land jobs.

Not to feel bitter towards those who have nursing jobs but whine about how busy they are and/or how much they hate their job.  Not to feel bitter towards those who are posting that they can't decide between two or three jobs when many of us don't even have one.  Not to feel bitter towards those who tell you "oh, this will all get better" because you damn well know they already have a job as they say it. 

I can go on but I think you get the idea.

Sorry, I had to get that out.   For the most part, I'm not bitter.   And you can spare me the lectures because I fully understand that the market sucks right now.  I know that LPNs and CNAs don't really have it easier.  I know that facilities are cutting their staff down to the bone.  I know that recruiters have to deal with hundreds of people like me every day.  I don't feel a sense of entitlement towards anything--all I'm asking for is a chance to prove myself.  And I'm pleased for anyone whose found a job during these times--doubly so if I know them personally--because that helps encourage me to keep on trying.

But I'm also human and can't help but feel frustrated at times. 

Cathartic exercise done.  Moving on.

I went to talk to the hospital that I want to work for to remind them of my existence.  I chatted with one of their nurse recruiters and left her my updated information.   I wasn't expecting any more than that, really.  She was nice and didn't treat me like new grad slime, thus restoring some of my faith in nurse recruiters. 

The SNF hasn't called yet, but my friend did--and yes, I was being paranoid:  she was busy...she also had tried to text me on her first day but forgot to hit Send Message.  Anyhow, apparently SNF is very busy preparing for inspections or meetings or somethings, and she thinks that's why they did not call me.  That made me glad I didn't call them today, but I decided to call them tomorrow morning to see what's up.  I'm having a feeling that it's going to be a "No".  I know, that's not very optimistic...I guess my mood is still a little bleak.

At least I found out that tomorrow will be a day of rejoicing regardless of what happens with the phone call:  the new dishwasher will be here.  I can't wait to break it in...but at the same time, I can't bring myself to leave a sink full of dirty dishes overnight to use in it tomorrow.  I can't stand a sink full of dishes...I really can't stand it.  It ranks right up there with the sound made when you rub a balloon.  I immediately shove them in the dishwasher or wash them by hand.  When I go to my friends' homes, I will start clearing their sink--unasked--if I see it's full.  None of them are offended by fact, I think a few plan their kitchen activities around my visits.

Speaking of which, I decided to spend the evening surrounded by friends, eating good food, drinking fine wine and getting moral support.  Again, another reason why I don't lose weight.  And yes, I did wash the dishes.

August 11, 2009

About those hours...

I should clarify that I don't plan to actually spend the entire time from 7am to 5pm looking for work.  Even I'm not that crazy...usually.  I'm just planning to confine job hunting activities to between those hours.

Speaking of which, I better get moving on my day's "work!"

Working 9 to 5

I decided that since I consider job-hunting to be like having a full-time job, then it needs to have set hours like a full-time job has.  So from 7:00am to 5:00pm is when I "work".  After 5pm, the job hunting will cease for the day and I will force myself to do anything but look for work.   Starting at 7 am instead of 9am may seem like a lot, but I have a block of free time from 7-9 that's perfect for getting things done right away in the day.  And of course, there's nothing saying that I can't stop job hunting before 5pm each day.   You already know that I don't job hunt over the weekends...and my house isn't a hospital, so there's no need for me to work 12's or nights.

I also think that I'm going to take the last week in August off from  job hunting.  That's the week I have to take PALS, so it'd be a good time for a break.  It'll also let me tie up all the loose ends before my little one starts school.  Maybe I'll make it two weeks and just lounge around doing absolutely nothing for a few days.  After all, at the rate things are going in the job hunt, I'm probably not going to miss anything if I bow out for a week or two.  Then again, with my luck, that will be the week the hospitals suddenly decide to open up new graduate spots and by the time I return they'll be all gone.

One reason that I decided to go on an in-person job hunting blitz today was to get myself out of the house and stay busy, instead of sitting around waiting for the call about yesterday's interview...which as of this writing, has not occurred.  It's frustrating, especially since she specifically said that she'd let me know today.  I decided that I'll give them a few days before I call.  If at that point I don't have an answer either way, I'll move on.  

My mother thinks I should call them tomorrow instead of Friday...then again, my mother's the "hound you to the death!" type of person.  She'll be on your case until she gets what she wants.  Now, that could work were it a seller's job-market, but not in buyer's job-market:  because after all, if they don't like me it's not as though they're struggling for other applicants.  There's tons that are just as qualified (if not more!) waiting in the wings.

If they decided against me, it would be nice if they would call to let me know I'm not going to get the job and give me some closure.  But keeping busy today helped--at least I wasn't starting at the clock during commercials, brooding about why the phone hasn't rung.

What's also a little bothersome is that my friend who started working there yesterday has not called or written me to let me know how it's going.  I don't know if she's busy or overwhelmed or feels bad that she's working and I'm not or thinks I'm upset that she's working and I'm not...I really hope it's not the latter two.  She's got nothing to feel bad about and I'm certainly not upset that she got the job.  If I wanted to save the facility all for myself, I wouldn't have invited her to come along with me when I went to drop the resume off!    But I'll think positively and presume she hasn't called because she's busy with orientation, and I'll try her over the weekend.

Yeah, I know:  I'm being paranoid.

Meanwhile, the second interview at the long-shot went very well.  My communication skills returned in force, I presented myself very well, and I left feeling a lot more confident of my chances.   I'm told it may take a while--a couple of weeks, possibly more--before they make an offer (if any).  But at least I know up front that it's going to be a while, so I don't mind waiting.  It's still the long-shot though, but we'll see what happens.  The places I dropped off resumes at weren't currently hiring but would keep me in mind should anything open up.

August 10, 2009

The interview

Well, I woke up pain-free, my cat threw up far away from my shoes (for a change), and my car didn't get a flat on the way in.  I arrived there 20 minutes early, remembered to turn the cell phone ringer off, and reread those questions while I waited. 

The interview started a few minutes late but still within the acceptable "on-time" window.  No feet were placed in any mouths.  I answered questions as confidently as I could, which unfortunately was only 75% of the time.  So much for strong communication skills, eh?  Those skills decided they were only going to put in a half-day today...yet I interviewed so well with the cat last night.   I think the glass of wine I had last night while practicing those questions probably helped.

I learned more about the job.  The patient load on the unit is somewhat more LTC than SN.  There's a lot of patients per nurse, and I'd be slinging a lot of meds.   I'll be very busy but I'll be learning a lot.   Orientation is generous.   Schedule is good with the option to pick up extra days if desired.  They stressed teamwork, which I like to hear because I'm a firm believer in that.

I asked when I could expect to hear from her; she said tomorrow.  So at least I'll have an answer either way.  The interview was shorter than my friend's was:  it only took about half the time (granted, it's for a different position).  No on-the-spot job offer, which was a touch disappointing, but I wasn't banking on one so it's fine.  I left feeling...I didn't feel like I bombed it, but at the same time didn't feel like I aced it.  I felt OK about it, but I don't know if it'll end in a job offer tomorrow.

One thing though:  stupid me forgot to ask the salary.  Can't do anything about that right now, so I figure that should they make an offer, I'll ask what it is before I accept.  Why oh why didn't I include that in my list of questions?

I went home, had lunch, washed the dishes and looked at my old dishwasher.  It's had a good life and will be leaving for heaven soon.

I got a call from the long-shot job from last week:  they want a second interview with their HR department.  I'm going to go regardless of what happens with today's job interview.  I'm not wild about long-shot job's hours--in fact, they're going to be very hard to make--but my grapevine says that they are really short-staffed and they need nurses, so maybe I can at least get a foot in and go from there.   I also made a list of SNFs that I'll hit on the way back from the interview tomorrow.

Then I bought some crayons (Crayola washable, large size) and helped my little one decorate the "car" we made for him out of a large box.  This has been the best part of my day so far.   It's really so easy to get wrapped up in job hunting that it consumes you, so there's nothing left but you and it.  No free time, no "stop and smell the flowers", no fun, nothing else but that continuous hunt for employment.  I've got a small child that's thrilled when I'm in the same room as him and a better half who's happy that we have our evenings back, and yet it's still so easy to lock myself in my office working on this exercise in futility and miss out on a whole lot.   And to be's starting to get to me. 

It's almost as bad as nursing school was.  And here I thought that when I graduated, all of this stress would be over and I'd get my life back.   I need to put my foot down and set a few limits on myself, such as the job hunting has to stop after a certain hour of the day.


August 9, 2009


I reviewed all my interview questions, practiced answering the ones they may ask me (the cat served as the practice interviewer), and finally managed to relax last night...I will admit it took a glass of wine and a sandwich, but I was soon calm enough to be asleep before 1am.  I got up a little earlier than usual--no migrane or food poisoning--so I can keep the relaxed pace going until the interview. 

I've also tried mirroring this journal at a nursing forum I visit.  I don't know how long it will last as they keep their journals in an out-of-the-way place.  But the original version will always remain here.

I keep thinking about all of the worst possible things that can happen tomorrow with the job interview...

  • They hired someone else between my first interview and tomorrow's interview

  • They had to make a budget cut and decided to withdraw my position

  • They'll forget I have an interview with them and won't be there when I arrive

  • As soon as they ask me a skills question, I'll forget everything that I've learned in the last two years of nursing school

  • There will be a problem with one of my references

  • There will be a problem when they verify past employment, considering it's been several years since I was last paid to work

  • And considering that my last boss isn't the brightest bulb on the marquee, he'll unintentionally muff up the verification with the result that I come off on par with axe murderers and other social deviants

  • They'll think I don't have enough clinical experience

  • They won't consider my volunteer work as work experience

  • The job is really for a LPN and they haven't realized that I'm an RN

  • I won't be able to sleep tonight and will look like death warmed over instead of someone trying to impress

  • I'll come off sounding like a blathering idiot and/or put my foot in my mouth

  • Or I'll say something innocuous but which also happens to be the wrong thing to say at that particular time.  God knows I do this enough as it is

  • I'll get stuck in a traffic jam and be late to the interview

  • I'll forget when the interview actually was scheduled for, and arrive an hour late

  • On the drive there, I'll spill coffee all over myself

  • I'll wake up with a migraine

  • I'll wake up with food poisoning

  • I'll wake up with a migraine and food poisoning

  • They'll make me take one of those psychological screening tests that I'm not good at because I have a warped sense of humor

  • I'll lose a contact lens during the interview

  • I'll remind the interviewer of their ex/last boss/mortal enemy/someone they don't happen to like

  • They won't believe what my GPA is, and ask for a transcript which I don't happen to have on me because I gave my last copy away

  • When they did the background check, they'll have confused me with someone else with the exact same name who happens to be a wanted criminal

  • I'll wear my lightest, most subtle perfume and it'll be the one fragrance the interviewer hates/is allergic to

  • Or I'll skip the perfume to be safe, but forget the antiperspirant as well

  • I'll throw up during the interview

I'm going to try and relax now.


I got a new dishwasher, but it's not here yet.  It'll be installed sometime this or next week.  In the meantime, I'm doing dishes the way that I did them when growing up:  by hand.  It sucks, yes...on the brighter side, my sink's a lot cleaner now.

Meanwhile, the clothing dryer has started having Cheyne-Stokes respirations.  I'm hoping that one can hold on until I get a job, as two new appliances in a short period of time is a real hard financial hit.   Of course, if it dies, I can always dry my clothing outside, to the delight and excitement of all the stray animals in the neighborhood.  But that's an awful lot of laundry to have out there, it's been raining a lot in the evenings, and considering that since I can get forgetful about getting laundry out of the dryer to fold it, I can't imagine I'll be any better about remembering to get it off of the line...drying it outside is asking for trouble.

I compiled a list of questions to ask tomorrow, as well as a list of what they may ask me so I can prepare.  My friend who scored the job filled me in on a few things that they asked her/she asked them, but I figure I'd need more than that--I don't want to go in parroting her, after all.  Let them get to know me.  I also spent yesterday with a procedure book glancing over a few common procedures.  I was surprised by how much I remembered...and by how much I forgot.  Yet another reason to start going over those review books and nursing magazines. 

I've been lining up other stuff for the week too, in case Monday doesn't result in a job offer.  I want to be very optimistic as that's what happened to my friend...then again, as I've written before, I can take nothing for granted.  There's a job fair, a few online job applications to complete, a couple of places to fax my resume to, a couple more to visit in person and/or call, an interview from last week to follow-up on, and the usual weekly trolling of the hospital websites.  Now that I've got my Blackberry and Outlook talking to each other, it'll be a lot easier for me to keep track of all of these places and tasks, especially while I'm out and about doing them.

There's also that other SNF with the not-so-great hours that I could follow-up on...except that recently, I'd heard a few things about that that were less than savory.  That, plus the fact that the person who interviewed me is no longer there (!) makes me wonder if it's the best working environment to start off in.  I think I'll wait and see how Monday and some of my other hunting plays out first.

I changed the style of the blog and made a custom header...again, like anyone's really going to notice.  It was nice to be able to do some graphics.  I forgot how good at this stuff I used to be, though what I did is really nothing at all to do.   Take the sheep, nurse him up, clean him up and put him on a good background...which happened to be a picture of a green scrubbie.  But it can pass for grass...or at the least, Astroturf.

August 7, 2009

In person

While most of my instructors and denizens at nursing forums say, "apply in person for jobs," I've had mixed results with doing that.  Some are receptive to me; some are rather PO'ed that I did that; and few have landed me an interview.  Yesterday was one of the successes--it went well and landed me a second interview in a few days.  It's skilled nursing/LTC, but from the sound of it so far, it's a great facility and I will be learning a lot.  And after my enlightenment of the other day, SN/LTC doesn't sound anywhere as much of a put-off as it used to...especially since I learned from a reputable source that one of the hospitals that I've been applying to is on a sacking spree.   Even long-term employees (nursing and otherwise) are being let go.

That doesn't mean I've stopped applying there.  But I'm being rather selective about what hours I'm available.  I don't want to get a night shift job, rearrange my life, and find myself fired in 3 months.  I'm not rearranging my life around no job security, thank you.

Anyhow, the SNF just picked up my friend for a job (different units) and she filled me in on how her interview went, so I've got all weekend to prep for it.  Hopefully they won't hire someone between now and Monday.   Ok, I'm paranoid, but with this economy, anything can happen.  The Perfect Nurse could show up on their doorstep today, everyone happened to be free to interview her, she'll land the job, and on Monday they'll be picking up the phone to make the "Dear Meriwhen" call as I walk through the door 15 minutes early for my interview.

I could have scheduled the interview today, but I was due to volunteer at the clinic.  I'm glad I didn't change my schedule for a few reasons.  First, I felt it reflected upon my work ethic and showed the SNF that I am responsible and take my commitments, even volunteer ones, seriously.   Second,  it was a very busy day at the clinic and I got to do a lot of patient teaching as well as learn more about the charting system.  Last, I made a major networking contact...major as in within an hour of meeting and getting to know a bit about me, she was making calls to the HR department of the hospital she was affiliated with--and I hadn't asked her to!   I would not have dreamt of being that rude....but she took it upon herself to do that.  If the skilled nursing job interview doesn't pan out, hopefully she can help me out.  At the least, maybe she'll allow me to list her as a reference. 

Overall, a very good day.  I'm so proud of my friend for landing the job...and I feel responsible for it too:  after lunch, I was going to the SNF and told her, "come along, you have nothing to lose!"  She didn't know I was going but decided to come along, and the rest is history.  It was nice that we were interviewed for separate units so we would not have had to compete against each other.  But if I did have to lose out on an application to someone, I'd rather it be her.  She's a good person and deserves it.

Hopefully someone will think I'm a good person who deserves it too and hire me somewhere. 

In my travels, I've come across a few people that were surprised that I volunteer as a RN because they felt that it was "risky" to my license.  I thought about that too...and realized that the greatest risk to my license would not be from volunteering itself, but from doing things out of the scope of my practice.  I'm a nurse, a RN to be precise.  If I go in and start medically diagnosing patients, prescribing medications, filling prescriptions, then yes, I'm out of my scope as those are not nurse duties.  If I try to start a PICC line or intubate someone, then yes, I'm out of my scope as I do not have the training for that.   If I provide patient education, help develop a care plan, take vitals, help the NP with procedures, those are all within the scope of my practice as well as things that for the most part I am qualified to do.  I don't see how evil volunteering can be.  If anything, as long as I follow the key rule of always staying within my scope, the benefits far outweigh the risks.

So this weekend:  more interview prepping, getting out to enjoy the weekend since this is the best I've felt in a long time, and kitchen appliance shopping.  My dishwasher has finally given up the ghost and so it's time to get a new one.

August 5, 2009

Enlightenment and lots of other little stuff

It's been a few days since I last wrote, so this will be long.

Monday morning started off on a down note when a recruiter from a nursing agency called me.  She asked me how much experience I had, and when I told her I was a new grad, she groaned.   I thanked her for her time and put a fast end to the call.

Seriously, WTF?  Yes, I know my life sucks right now but no need to act like I have the plague....or I am the plague.   No wonder why everyone says that nurses eat their young.

Monday morning had another crisis when I went to iron my clothing for the interview and found that I did not have an iron--I had forgotten that that last one was broken and I had thrown it out.   The pants were in good condition after a quick tumble in the dryer, but the shirt could not be saved.  Fortunately, I had a spare shirt in the closet, brand new but not worn (it is summer and the shirt is on the heavy side).   

The interview on Monday went well.  They had lost my paperwork from the first visit, which worked in my favor as I had updated my resume considerably since then--it was no problem at all to fill out a new form.  I handled the questions well and passed the impromptu drug quiz.   I told her I can take full or part-time, benefits were nice but not necessary, and I can start as soon as they'd have me.  The only problems here are that they really want full-time nights, which I can't do during the week (weekends, sure), and that I don't have any experience in this particular area of nursing.  She said she'd be in touch over the next couple of weeks, so I thanked her for her time, left to purchase a stash of nice stationery and a new iron, and sent off a Thank You note to her.   Again, this is my long-shot, so I'm not exactly optimistic that I'll get it, especially since she wants full-time...I'd love to be able to pull part-time weekends there though. 

Checked in at all the local hospitals; applied for the couple of new positions that specifically didn't have "NO NEW GRADS" stamped on them; asked about any job fairs or new grad positions coming up.   Went through the job postings in my inbox, saw that most of them had "experienced RN only" and was disheartened.  Looked at the classifieds to see that if I were a LPN or a CNA, that I could have been hired yesterday.  But RNs, nope.

"New grad."  Two years ago...even a year ago, it was a beautiful thing to be.  Now I rank right along with the other pests of society.  What also doesn't help me is that I had come to the painful realization that right now, with my better half's job and my little one's schedule, second shifts and nights are really not doable for me.  On the weekends, they are.  During the could be done but it'd be damn hard.   The problem is that a lot of places have enough day staff and need nights.  Or if they did have a day opening, they're not going to give it to a new grad fresh out of the blocks.

Continue, please.

Tuesday started off with a pile of rejections and the need to find a new preschool for my little one.  I reapplied to a couple of the jobs I was rejected from and lined up several preschools to interview.   Went to a bridge BSN information seminar...liked what I heard so much that I applied to the program.  I'll be really surprised if I don't get in, given my grades and the fact that I have all but a couple of the prerequisite classes done, and those I would have until the date of graduation (2012?) to complete.  But I'm learning not to take anything for granted lately. 

Driving back is when I had a moment of the rain, on a bendy road, while feeling pretty crappy about my life, is when it hit me:  perhaps I'm not meant to work in a hospital right now.   Yes, that's all they drilled into our heads in nursing school:  get a job on a floor, it's the only way to build experience, you'll never be able to do anything without putting a year of med-surg hospital in first, everything else is career-killing dead end.   Any nursing forum tells me the same thing.

But is it really going to be the end of the world if I don't go right into a hospital floor?   No one's hiring, I'm not the only one trapped in this limbo, and my working hours are limited for the next couple of years why kill myself over trying to get the impossible?  

Yes, it is kind of the end of the world, as a hospital job was my goal.  Not because nursing school pounded it into my head, but because it's one thing I always wanted to do.   And I admit to feeling like a failure because I couldn't land a hospital job, neverminding that there's tons of other new nurses out there with similar or better qualifications who can't either. 

But I have to admit that when the thought crossed my mind, I felt relieved.  It was though I didn't have a foot on the back of my neck anymore...the pressure eased.   After all, there's tons of nurses out there who don't go immediately into a hospital after graduation.  Many end up making it there years later, while plenty of others find happiness and success in other areas.

I went home and shared the enlightenment with my better half, who agreed there might be something it.  I think he was thrilled not to see me at wits' end for a change.

So now, a small change of tack:  I'm still going to apply to hospital jobs, but only for the hours I can work...except for the one that I really want to work at--they can have me whenever they want.  I'm going to start looking a LOT more at other fields:  LTC, nursing homes, clinics, schools, etc., in the hours that can work for me.  I'll still be volunteering at the clinic and perhaps elsewhere.  I'm going to keep getting my certifications.   I'll get to a hospital floor eventually, though maybe not until after my BSN at this rate.  And speaking of which, I guess I'm getting a BSN now instead of down the road.  I had hoped an employer would pay for it, but I guess I'll have to spring for it...and I decided that I'm going to do just that by applying for every scholarship and grant under the sun, selling off a few stocks, and/or even taking a loan out.

I spent a long time on the phone with a friend/classmate.  She's having no luck either, so we made a date later this week to tackle a few places head-on.  She also told me that one of my classmates who was interviewed and didn't get it because  she couldn't answer that "what would you do?" questions they gave her.  Now, I truly wish success for each and every one of my classmates, and I feel bad she didn't get the job as she is a lovely girl...but at the same time, I couldn't help but have a momentary feeling of Schadenfreude, more from me not being the only one who's getting denied left and right than from anything else.  At least she still has her current position.

But that, along with my interview with the pop drug quiz, were reminders of the need to stay on top of my own knowledge base.  And if I can't actually perform the skills, I can at least stay well-read on them.  Doing NCLEX review questions for fun might not be a bad idea either.

Today, I got the little one in a new preschool and followed up on the skilled nursing position (long story, and they'll have to call me back).  Have a few more places to apply to online, and I'm going to get the phone book, make a list of every possible place I could work and see if they're hiring.  I really am trying to move away from the "hospital or bust!" mentality.  Right now, that's just not working for me...and better I get some skill in any nursing field than no skill at all.

So the progress as of late:  it's all over the place, and I don't have a job yet.  But I feel better.

August 3, 2009

It's Monday

So I spent the weekend playing with the family, catching up on some movies (I need to get Love at First Bite next because I forgot how absolutely adorable George Hamilton is), working on my website, drinking some fine wine and some not-so-fine wine, and moving this blog from Blogspot to here...though judging by the stats on the blog, I don't think anyone noticed.

I have a job interview this afternoon, so I'm printing up a few copies of the fresh new resume I have and getting my clothing ready.  Like I've said in an earlier post, it's the long-shot place, so I'm not pinning all my hopes on it.  The hours are also not great...but I do intend to go in and give the best damn interview that I can.  You never know what may come from it.

Over the weekend, I got a couple of leads on school nurse jobs.  They're for two different school systems.  One would be a full-time job; they're only hiring 3 spots, but my contact (who happens to work in the schools) told me exactly who I should talk to and to say I've been referred by her.  The other is PRN (substitute nurse) so the schedule would not be consistent; however my contact tells me that they're always scrambling for nurses.  She's promised me a glowing reference; in fact, she already told the person in charge of hiring about me and that I might be contacting her soon.

I think I may apply for the PRN one.  I'm still working to get into a hospital and I think my next chance may be this fall, the next couple of months or so.  I really don't want to start a full-time job and then have to leave because I've gotten my big break...not yet, anyway.  Besides, I'd rather that the job I do take while I'm waiting for my big break offer me more in the way of getting clinical skills than the school nursing job would.  So if I go for the PRN one, I do get experience, I do get food for the resume, and I do have the flexibility to say "No" if I can't go in that day or decide to move on.  After September or so, though, I think I need to take whatever I can get when I can get it, especially if I want to start saving to pay my way through the RN-BSN program.

That reminds me, I also need to touch base on that skilled nursing one today or tomorrow.

August 2, 2009

Ideas of reference

Now all of hospital #2's nurse listings have "apply online."  I'm sure I'm not the only person in town who has gone straight up to a nurse manager to apply...but I can't help but feel that I'm the reason they did that.  I also hope it doesn't hurt my chances.  It's not like I harassed any of them--I just went up resume in hand and applied.

Oh well.  I do think that given the circumstances, it may be prudent if I don't follow up with those three applicants over the phone.