How I Got a Specialty Nursing Job Straight Out of School

You’ve probably all heard the standard advice:  “You need to do 1-2 years on a Med-Surg floor before getting into a specialty area of nursing.”  That advice felt misguided to me when I was in nursing school, and I think it’s still wrong today.  With so many specialty nursing areas available, it’s really possible to get into almost anything as a new graduate…IF you can make yourself an attractive candidate.

operating_room_nurseWhen I graduated nursing school, I knew that I DID NOT want to work on a Med-Surg floor.  That was just not my thing.  But I had fallen in love with the Operating Room (OR), and desperately wanted to work in that area of nursing.  So I hustled to make it happen:  I paid attention in clinicals (especially when I had the opportunity to observe the OR!), talked to OR staff, told my friends who were already nurses what I wanted to do, joined the Association of Perioperative Registered Nurses, and even called local hospitals to set up shadowing experiences.

In the end, I did so much research that I became an expert on what it would take for me to become an OR nurse.  I knew the role of the RN in the OR, I was familiar with the OR atmosphere at several of my area hospitals, I knew which hospitals offered OR training programs, when they typically started their training programs, and how to go about applying for each one.  By the time graduation rolled around, I had identified a contact person at each of three local hospitals that would be starting their next OR training program during the summer or fall.

I applied at all 3 hospitals, and was super excited when I got my first interview with hospital #1.  I came prepared to show them I had done my homework, and that even though I was a new graduate, they could be confident that I had the passion, drive, and ability to become an awesome OR nurse.

After the interview, I mailed a thank-you note and waited.  A week later, I called hospital #1 to follow-up and discovered that I did not get the job.  Huge bummer.  I kind of started freaking out a little…

Feeling like my dream was in danger of slipping away, I panicked and called each of the other two hospitals I had applied to.  I hadn’t heard anything from them yet, and so I wanted to make sure that they were still in the interview process.  I discovered that hospital #2 had not started interviewing anyone yet, but that hospital #3 had just started calling people…so they scheduled an interview with me.

I went into the interview at hospital #3 with a positive attitude (and my panic suppressed!), still prepared to demonstrate how passionate I was about becoming an OR nurse straight out of nursing school.  This time, it worked!  They offered me a position in their OR training program before I even left the interview.

About a month later, I finally got a call from hospital #2 to ask if I was still interested in interviewing.  Obviously, I wasn’t interested anymore since I had already started training at my new OR job.  But it was a good reminder to me that what sometimes feels like “rejection,” is actually just bad timing that has nothing to do with my resume or personal characteristics at all.

So don’t feel like you have to “do your time” on a Med-Surg floor, especially if you’re confident that your passion lies in a specialty area of nursing.  With the right preparation and passion, you can get any job you want…even as a new nursing graduate!

1 thought on “How I Got a Specialty Nursing Job Straight Out of School”

  1. Jennifer

    Hi Nicole,

    My name is Jennifer. Was just wondering if you would be able to provide me with interview example questions for direct entry into OR.

    Thanks in advance and I hope to hear from you soon!


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