Tuesday, February 26, 2013

No Nurse to School Nurse

Hi everyone!

Sorry if you think I abandoned you, but I didn't! I'm still here, just more on my plate. I finally settled in to everything but it doesn't look like my life is going to slow down anything soon. Since I just got my millionth question on how to be a school nurse I thought I'd break it down for everyone. It's a little complicated and there's more to it than what you think so make sure it's the right choice for you before you pursue it. As a note, these rules only apply to California. School nurse laws vary by state. For example, in California only BSN's can become a school nurse while in other states you can have your ADN.

  1. Graduate nursing school with your BSN. Pass NCLEX. Find a school nurse job. Interview. Get the job. 
  2. Since you are a new school nurse once you have the position, the school or school district will have you fingerprinted and obtain a $70 money order or check. This will go toward your school nurse credential. When your prints clear you will get a temporary preliminary credential from the school which allows you to work and expires in one year.
  3. The state will send you your actual preliminary school nursing credential in the mail which expires in 5 years. It is NOT RENEWABLE. 
  4. During those five years you must unfortunately go back to school. You have to obtain your clear credential in order to continue working. To do that you have to have worked as a school nurse for 2 years and completed a school nurse program. 
I have my temporary license from the district and I'm waiting on my official one from the state. Although I have five years I want to get my schooling over with ASAP. The programs are usually 3-4 semesters long. Most of the programs are CSU's like Sacramento State, Long Beach, or Fresno State. There's also a few private university's that offer it like Azusa Pacific University. Some of the programs offer the chance to obtain your Masters as well. I do not recommend trying to apply to these programs and taking classes before you get a school nurse position. It won't help you and I believe some of these programs require you to already have your preliminary license which you can't get without a job. I'm personally looking at Sacramento State because the whole program is online and I only have to go to the campus twice a semester for an exam on a Saturday. Now if you work for an awesome school or school district like I do they will pay for your tuition (Yay! No more loans!). My school district will also pay for me to take an Audiometry course so that I can become certified by the State to do the hearing screening for my district. Right now as I'm finishing up screening I have a nurse from the county coming to help me to do the audio screening while I do the vision. I found a class by CSU San Bernardino that's online for the Spring semester and I only have to drive to CSUSB on a Saturday at the end for the final exam. That way next year I can do the hearing and vision screening on my own. 

That's pretty much it! And trust me it's more work than you think. School nursing is not an easy little job. I'm so busy I don't have time to look at the clock and I barely have time for lunch. I'm going to do another post about what I actually do because it's a lot more than band-aids and lice. Let me know if you guys have more questions!

If you're looking for an excellent site to find School Nursing jobs try EDJOIN!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Job Update

Hey guys! Just a little update on my new job as a school nurse: I'm in the middle of packing and getting things together to drive down to Southern California on Sunday. I start Tuesday and I'm super excited and filled with butterflies. I also can't wait to bust my scrubs out of storage tomorrow! Wish me luck and I have a LONG drive ahead of me.  Thank goodness for the aux plug in my car! I'm shooting to have Part II of Resumes up by Monday night, but we'll see how things go with the unpacking and getting ready for the big day. As a little treat to hold everyone over, here's a little song for those of you out there that need some extra support right now. It's called "Can't Bring Me Down" by Karina. It's a great motivator and it's my personal theme song so enjoy!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Resumes: Part I

Okay ladies and gentlemen. Your resume is the meat and potatoes of your job search. This is what gets you an interview. There are books upon books, seminars, courses, and tutorials beyond belief on how to compose your resume. Although there's plenty of information out there it can be a bit overwhelming and there's so much contradiction. 1 page vs. 2 page resume. Objective vs. no objective. Arial vs. Times New Roman. It goes on and on and pretty much ridiculous. The biggest challenge is filtering through all the information to find what fits best for YOU! It pretty much comes down to the personal preference of whoever is looking at your resume and not what Doctor so and so says in his books about resumes. It's not fair but there is NO STANDARD for a resume format. There are a few agreements within the job hiring community. I'm going to share with you guys the format of my current resume, that landed me my current job. I am in no way saying this is the best and only way. This is just my current resume. You're more than welcome to use it, ignore it, modify it, etc. Remember that everything I post here is to help you guys out!

First off, I'm going to explain how I reached my current version of my resume. The most important thing is to have as many people look at it as possible. My mom, classmates, professors, career centers, neighbors, the clerks at my mom's job, and so on. I also posted it on Allnurses.com under their Nurse Resume Help section to get some great feedback from the members. However, you don't need to take every and all advice you receive. Like I mentioned earlier, even some of the comments from the members on allnurses.com contradicted each other and I had to decided which advice was best for me.

There are a few things I believe each resume should have. Again, this is coming from my personal opinion, research, and advice from others along my resume journey to perfection.

  1. Simple font. It doesn't have to be Times New Roman, but make sure it's a Monotype Font. Keeps your font size at 12 or 11 point.
  2. If printing it please spend a few bucks and get professional resume paper with a watermark. You can buy it anywhere from Walmart to OfficeMax. Stick to neutral colors. No bright pinks or greens. It's not the time to be super creative. 
  3. Keep your formatting plain except for your name. No italics anywhere and only bold your name. Please include your degree and license after your name (Last Name, Degree, RN is the format) and remember to not include your degree or license until after you graduate or pass NCLEX. It will be considered fraud and in most states the RN title is protected under law and you could face serious consequences if you use RN without having your license. 
  4. When writing your job description use action verbs at the beginning of each statement. Example, Sorted files, entered data, received and made calls, etc. 
  5. If you have room on your resume, yes I'm suggesting to keep it to one page, put in your clinical experiences. While applying for jobs I noticed that Magnet hospitals were asking for this information to be incorporated in to your resume and I decided to make it a permanent space. It gives hospitals ideas of what type of hospitals and floors you've been trained in and how many hours. It's also a great for those that have no work experience. You can also add what type of patients you worked with and a summary of skills you performed at the facility. Try to be concise and don't be repetitive. 
  6. If you have volunteer experience add it! Even if it was for an hour or for a non-nursing or medical reason. Any and all volunteer experience is a great way to show you care. 
This concludes Part I! I'll try to get Part II out soon for you guys but hopefully this was enough information to hold you over until then. Also, if you look over to the right I have a new poll up. I'm thinking about making a Facebook page to go with the blog to give out updates and get opinions from you guys on what you want me to write about. I'm even thinking contest in the future like giving away a NCLEX study book or gift cards to Amazon. My ideas can only go so far and I would love feedback from everyone. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Big Annoucement!

Hi guys! Sorry I've been super absent but I've been super busy! I finally...drum roll please....got a job! I'm going to be a school nurse and I can't wait to tell you all about it! I'm going to continue with the blog (I promise) to keep helping you all along because I know it's a tough road out there. So keep you head up and have faith! It took me 8 months, a million hand cramps, and a few boxes of Kleenex. And finally, here's a Good Song to help spread the love.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Job Searching 101: Online Applications

Hello all! Sorry it took me so long to post again! I had a crazy week and I'm just exhausted. As a rule of thumb I'm going to try to post every 2-3 days and to catch up I will post everyday to finish out the Job Searching 101 series.

When filling out applications everyday over and over you begin to realize you're just answering the same questions although the format may not be the same. When I first started, it took me longer to fill them out because I had to keep looking up the same information each time. Since you can't submit a generic application with each position I decided to create my own generic job application so I can just simply copy and paste. As I went through the different applications I got a better idea of what to add to my generic list to make it easier. At this point, I pretty much have all the information I need for each position. I keep my list on my Google Drive (formerly Google Docs) instead of my hard drive that way I have access to it wherever I go. I also just learned Google Drive has templates similar to Microsoft Word. I'm going to try and make my list into a template to post it here for you guys to use as a better guide. 

Also included with my generic application is a plain text version of my Resume and Cover Letter. What that means is my Resume is without formatting for simple copy and paste in to a text box. Instead of bullet points I use a dash (-). 

Here's the basic layout of my generic application. 
  • Education:
    • High School and address
    • University and address
  • Work Experience
    • Facility #1
      • Job Title
      • Address of facility
      • Facility phone number
      • Name of Supervisor
        • Supervisor number
        • email
        • Official Title
      • Dates of employment
      • Starting and ending wages
      • Job description 
      • Why position ended 
    • Facility #2
  • Certifications
    • Nursing License # and exp. date w/date license was issued
    • BLS exp. date
    • ACLS/PALS, etc. 
  • Plain Text Resume and Cover Letter 
  • References
    • Reference #1
      • Job title
      • Phone number
      • Email
      • Address (use school address or the reference's work address)
      • How you know reference
      • Years Acquainted
    • Reference #2
    • Reference #3
  • Past Addresses (for the past 10 years)
    • Address
    • Dates
I hope this helps a lot! It may take a while gathering it all together, but it will save a lot of time. Copy and paste is your best friend! 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Job Searching 101: Organization

One of the most important things you can do during your job search is keep yourself organized! I have a little system in which I can keep track of the jobs I apply which comes in handy interview time. If you're applying for any and every job you can come across you don't want to be running around like a chicken with their head cut off when you realize you don't remember the job description and it's no longer up there. 

1. Make a Job Folder
You can call it whatever you like. Job. Future careers. Yellow brick road. Just make a simple little folder with your new title.

2. Make sub folders
Now, this may vary depending on what you would put in there. My sub folders are as follows:
  • Documents
  • Interview References
  • Past Cover Letters and Resumes
  • Positions Applied
  • Transcripts and Letters
Included with my sub folders are my current Cover Letter, Resume, and hospital spreadsheet. 

3. Scan your documents and save to pdf
Scan everything that you may or may not need that's related to your job search. Examples include your unofficial transcript, RN license, diploma, BLS card, letters of recommendation, etc. There are programs you can download to create pdf's from the scanner if your printer doesn't do it automatically. If you're printing your unofficial transcript from offline and you use Chrome as a browser an awesome trick is you can print it as a pdf and save it to your computer. No printing and scanning needed. I also recommend saving your current Resume in .docx, .doc, and .pdf just in case! 

4. Sorting your documents
Now comes the easy part! Sorting everything. But it will be time consuming when you first start out. I'm going to go through each of my sub-folders and list everything I keep in there and how it's organized. 

A. Documents: I keep everything in here that doesn't fall in to any of the other categories: BLS card, diploma, RN license, copy of driver's license, etc. You never know what you may need to upload for a job application. 

B. Interview References: This one is pretty self-explanatory. If I come across awesome interview or resume/cover letters articles online I save them to this folder. This is where the Chrome print-to-pdf really comes in handy. I don't need to clog my bookmarks with my resume links and I don't need to print and scan them. 

C. Past Cover Letters and Resumes: I keep every version of my cover letters and resumes. You never know when you may need to go back and see an old one. I usually number them; ex: Cover Letter Template 4. I'll go in to naming the files a bit later. 

D. Positions Applied: This folder goes a little more in depth. Since every single job I applied for so far has been online it has made my life easier as far as organization. Inside this folder I have more mini-folders that are labeled with the month and year. Ex. Nov 12, Dec 12, Jan 13. Inside each folder is the name of the hospital or organization I applied to for that month. Inside the folders for each hospital I have:
  • The resume I used to apply to that position
  • The cover letter I used
  • A copy of the job description (again print-to-pdf)
  • A word doc with the essay or questions I answered for the application
A good rule of thumb is that when applying for a job save it under the folder like this: first initial/last name Hospital Resume/Cover letter. Ex. JDoe Bakersfield Memorial Cover letter. I don't put dates in the file name. If you only have one version of your resume you can keep it as First initial/last name Resume, but still save it under the folder in case you change your resume in the future. It's important to keep track of the exact version of your cover letter and resume that you send out for your future interviews. Same thing for the questions and answers they give you because you don't want to contradict yourself in your interview especially if the managers have a copy of your application with your answers. 

If I apply for more than one position at that hospital I make sure to save the job description as the Position and shift time (if noted). Ex. ICU Nights, New Grad Program, Med Surg 5 Days. I also save the cover letter by adding the position. Ex. JDoe Bakersfield Memorial ICU Cover Letter. 

E. Transcripts and Letters: My unofficial transcripts and my letters of recommendation. Every file is in a pdf and I also have one file that includes 3 of the letters. You can try FoxyUtils MergePDF to combine pdf files into one for free. 

5. Back it all up!
It's not enough to save everything as you go, but save it on an external spot as well. I have a 1 Terabyte external hard drive that I back up to on a regular interval. It cost me about $85, but there are cheaper options. You can get a regular USB stick or if you're more tech enable you can save everything in the cloud. I use Google Drive which is awesome. I save a few nursing job related documents on there, but not everything only because I would take up too much space and I'm not paying for more. I always keep my current Resume and cover letter template upload on my Google Drive so I can have access to it where ever I go. 

You guys are welcome to alter this system and make it your own! If you have any ideas and/or suggestions let me know! The next article I'm going to show you have to be more efficient when filling out those repetitive job applications. 

Monday, January 14, 2013

Job Searching 101: The Search

One of the hardest things about being unemployed is the search. It has turned in to my new full-time job. I dedicate about 6 to 8 hours a day on my job search. Now keep in mind part of that isn't constant job searching. It includes tweaking my resume and cover letter, reviewing interview skills, and researching potential nursing positions I want to apply for. The job search has become an art in itself and over the past 8 months I've determined the best ways to maximize my job search. Job searching can be difficult if you don't know where to start or you've been at it so long you feel you aren't pulling up new jobs.

This will be the beginning of a series of posts I'm calling Job Searching 101. I'm going to share my job search tips, organization, and knowledge with all of you to hopefully give you a boost of confidence in your ability to put yourself out there. This will be an awesome guide for those fresh new grads who are just getting their feet wet. It might also be useful for those seasoned job hunter out there. Hopefully, I will have a little something for everyone.

Google is your best friend. Or Bing/Yahoo if you prefer those search engines instead. I'm going to be up front and admit my bias. I love Google. I have Gmail, an Android, I upload all of my nursing job info on Google Drive, etc. That said, you're welcome to substitute Google with any site you want. Google is a great place to start. Remember that your search words are everything. Use variety in your search. For example: use both "new grad rn programs" and "new grad rn residency" when typing. It's also important to pay attention to Google's suggestions for more searches at the bottom of the page. This is one of the best ways to find out about established and future new grad programs. Unfortunately, there's no real comprehensive list of new grad programs. It takes a bit of effort to really know what's out there.

One of the best ways to find out about new grad programs is through the Versant website. Versant is a company that develops new grad programs for Hospitals. When applying you may see a job position that says "Versant New RN Graduate Program". That's what they are referring to. If you go to their website there's a map that has shows all the hospitals that use their program. There's hospitals all over the country that use Versant so it's a nice stepping stone for those willing to move around or who want to see what's around them.

indeed.com is a dedicated job searching site. It's awesome for searching for new grad programs or RN 1 positions. You can also make an account and set up job alerts.

Allnurses.com is a great resource for finding and asking questions about nursing job. They have a career section which includes resume help and new grad job searching. If you head over to the US section, under each state there's a thread about nearly every new grad program from that area. The community will chime in about information they pick up along the way such as how many open spots, when they are interviewing, who got in, and more. This is a great resource for support and information that Google or indeed can't give you.

Hospital websites
Each hospital or organization has their own job section where you can search and apply for their available positions. You can also do a little snooping around to see if they have a new grad program that may not have come up under a general Google search. If the hospital is under an organization such as Sutter or Kaiser it may be easier to search under the organization as you could cover more hospitals at once. This is the best way to find RNI/II positions since they are more difficult to seek out that new grad programs. Also check if the hospital only hires new grads in to a rn residency or they post RNI positions sporadically.

Job Alerts/Search Agents
When you apply or search for a position online you usually have to make an account. This can lead to a lot of user names and passwords to remember. As a rule of thumb I have one email address, a PROFESSIONAL email address, that's only used for my job searching and resume. I have one user name for my job accounts (first initial and last name is a great example) and one universal password. My suggestion is to have that password include lower case, upper case, numbers, and a special character. That way you will always meet any criteria that some sites impose. This system makes my life a lot easier when I go back to check the status of my application or apply again. When you make an account 9 times out of 10 there's an option to set up a job alert or search agent. You choose the type of position you want to be notified for (new grad or RNI) and you will get an email when that position pops up. This is extremely handy for hospitals that are notorious for posting a position out of the blue and only for a few hours. Perfect way to stay ahead of the pack!

I found out about AfterCollege because my school has a page on the site and we were encouraged to join before graduation. This is a free site that is geared for entry-level positions for new grads. Hospitals and organizations have accounts in which they post jobs. You can follow different organizations and the site is great about emailing you for new jobs. I found about Stanford's new grad program opening the day before it posted.

Friends and Family
Some of the best ways to find out about open positions is through your friends or family. Remember, sharing is caring! Came across an ICU position, but you're more Peds? Pass it on to a fellow classmate! One of your buddies got a job over at Lucky Hospital? Have them be on a look put for you! Aunt Sally works at Happytime Medical? Have her put in a good word for you! Resources can be your big break. I know they say it's not what you know, but who you know. Unfortunately, that's not always the case today but you should still try. I know some internals that have a hard time getting in to their organization. On the other hand, last month a new grad program I applied to only had a few openings and gave all the positions to their internals.

Your Phone/Email
Finally, the best way to know about new grad jobs at a hospital is to simply call or email them. HR can be your best resource about upcoming positions or whether you're wasting your time stalking their open position section. You can also get the email or number to nurse recruiters and go straight to the source. It's all about networking and building a "be on the look-out" list. You can Google a list of hospitals in you state and use that as a basis. That's how I created my spreadsheet.

If you guys have anything else to add or suggest let me know below! I might edit and update this list with your input.