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  • 14 April 2023
  • 8 min read

How To Pick Your First Job As A NQN

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    • Matilda Benewaah
    • Richard Gill
    • Mat Martin
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“Many people take different options, different routes, and it's important that you do what is best for you, your family, and your circumstances… It's important that even from now, you're beginning to think what type of environment you want to be in.”

Debbie gives advice how to pick your first job as a Newly Qualified Nurse, covering everything from considering your shift pattern to finding the specialism that suits you.

Hello, my name is Debbie and I'm a Practice Nurse in London. Today I'm going to be giving advice on how to pick your first job as a Newly Qualified Nurse.

Thinking Ahead

So around this time of year is when many students are beginning to consider what roles they're going to be taking, starting to apply for jobs. I remember when I was a student around this time, people had already been given offers on what job they're going to be doing, whereas at the time I was still a bit clueless. It seemed a bit too early to apply because I knew I wanted to become a GP Nurse, and they don't apply in advance. They don't take applications in advance as the hospital would do generally.

Over the past two or three years as a Student Nurse, you've been given the opportunity to work in a ward, work in the community, in the theater, maybe in a GP practice, in A&E, and now it's your time to choose where you would like to go.

Now, many people take different options, different routes, and it's important that you do what is best for you, your family, and your circumstances. Many of your friends, or many people that you are studying with, may take one path, but that might not be the path for you. It's important that even from now, you're beginning to think what type of environment you want to be in.

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Consider Your Family

The first thing I would say consider is your family. If you are somebody who has children, who has a family, or you live alone or whatever the case may be, what is that going to, how is that going to affect your family?

For example, shift work. People begin to think about shift work, if that is best for them, working nights, being able to do the school run, etc. If that is something that's going to work for you, then you might want to consider that.

For some people they would rather the nine to five working hours, so that would pretty much put you in a GP setting, or for example, if you wanted to go into theater. I know in some places do about eight to six, four days a week and you get that extra day.

How Many Days Do You Want To Work?

That's another thing to factor in terms of how many days a week do you want to be working? With shift patterns, you can do three or four days a week, and the other days you can do agency. In some workplaces, like in the GP practice, you can do four days and have a day off for example. I work every day apart from the weekends. These are various things that you need to begin to factor in.

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Your First Role Might Not Be Forever

I think it's very important that as a Newly Qualified Nurse, you are not too hard on yourself in terms of where you go. There's going to be a lot of information, even within this video. There are so many things that you're going to think what am I going to do in that situation? Or what if I need to do this? Or what if I want to do that?

But if I'm very honest and speaking to a few of my friends, your first role may not be the role that you stay in for a very long time. It's to give you a feel of what that nursing life really is.

You might be in a role and I've heard of people who have gone their nearly qualified role and they've been in that role for six months or less and they've decided to move on because they found that that wasn't for them.

Remember that the responsibilities you have as a student is different from what you have as a fully qualified nurse. You may feel that those responsibilities are just too much for you and you're just unable to cope with it and so you want to move on. It's important that you're not too hard on yourself during that time of choosing your role.

Many people take different options, different routes, and it's important that you do what is best for you, your family, and your circumstances… It's important that even from now, you're beginning to think what type of environment you want to be in.

Look At What You Enjoyed As A Student Nurse

Another thing that I would say to consider is what did you enjoy? What did you enjoy when you were a student? What did you love? Sometimes these things you don't realize until you get into the role.

I'll use an example. When I started practice nursing, I didn't realize how much I enjoyed working with children, and that's about a year into the role because initially I wasn't really working with children and doing the immunizations; I hadn't done that yet. But once I started, I realized that I really loved working with children, and this is something that I'm happy that I'm able to do.

But what I'm just trying to say is that there's going to be times where you don't really know specifically what you enjoy, but you're just going to have to take that leap of faith. Do what you know how to do, what you liked, and then figure out within that whether you enjoy doing it or not.

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Factor In Study Days And Programs

Other important things to factor in is the study days that will be offered, the preceptorship program, and what it's like.

For example, I’m in a GP practice, and we don't per se have a preceptorship program. But every course that is available that I have not done, I will put myself onto that and make sure, so that has its pros and cons because it means that there's no structured way of learning.

Of course, it also has pros and cons because there's no structured way of making sure that all the courses are done. But they will get done. Everybody learns in different ways and some people would rather a structured preceptorship program and they know that in this time they're going to be supernumerary. Whereas for me, I didn't really mind. I was just hands-on immediately.

Your Nursing Degree Can Take You Anywhere

As I stated before, it's really important that you're not too hard on yourself. Make sure you pick what you think you're going to enjoy, and if you don't enjoy it, what I say to everybody is that the choice is yours.

The world is your oyster, and when it comes to nursing, your degree can take you literally anywhere: it can take you abroad. It can take you to various fields of nursing, various sectors from private sector, public sector, whatever the case may be.

But I would say is to make sure you get the fundamentals. You might not like any specific field in nursing, but if you are able to just make sure you're the best in that field. Get all the skills that they can give you in the first six months of being there, so that when you move on, you can say, you can do this, you know how to do this, you know how to do that, and you have something under your belt that'll be really helpful for you.

So best of luck as you choose your first qualified job.

Thanks for watching.

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About the author

I am a newly qualified GP Nurse in London. After my first degree in Biomedical science, I realised that I wanted a patient facing career, leading me to study nursing as a master’s degree. This is one of the best decisions I’ve made as I am loving my new career and progression prospects.

    • Matilda Benewaah
    • Richard Gill
    • Mat Martin
  • 1
  • 1337

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    • Janet Dalton 6 months ago
      Janet Dalton
    • Janet Dalton
      6 months ago

      Hello Debbie, I really enjoyed reading this article. Do you have any further specific advice for applying for practice nurse ... read more