A Comprehensive Guide for New Graduate Nurses – FRESHRN


Congratulations on completing nursing school! You’re now ready to dive into the world of healthcare and make a difference in patients’ lives. With numerous nursing job options available, it’s essential to identify your preferred areas and explore opportunities beyond the traditional hospital setting. Here, we’ve compiled the top nursing jobs for new graduates, both inside and outside the hospital, tips on where to find them, and resources to become a high-performer in those roles. Let’s get started!

If you are ready to get a job as a nurse, what will you do? There are so many options. And the good thing is that even if you get a job that isn’t a good fit, you can apply and go somewhere else.

Another wonderful aspect of nursing is the ability to always grow. You can aim for something amazing and work hard for the job you really want. Experienced nurses will be super helpful too. They will give you advice and direction so you will know how to work towards your goals and obtain them.

As you apply for jobs, here are the 8 most popular types of nursing jobs and what they do.

1. Med-Surg Nursing: The OG of Nursing

When you think of nursing, this is probably the first thing that comes to mind. Medical-surgical nursing is like the “Friends” of the nursing world – it’s classic, evergreen, and teaches you valuable life lessons. Med-surg nurses are responsible for a wide range of patients and conditions, making it the perfect place for new nurses to gain experience and sharpen their skills.

Where to Find Med-Surg Nursing Jobs

Check hospital websites, job boards like Indeed or Monster, and nursing job fairs. Professional nursing organizations like the Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses (AMSN) can also provide guidance and resources.

Resources to be an Amazing Med-Surg Nurse

2. Emergency Room Nursing: The Fast and Fearless

If you’re a fan of adrenaline, team work on the same level as the 1990’s Chicago Bull’s, and saving lives in the nick of time – emergency room nursing might be your calling. ER nurses must think on their feet and stay cool under pressure, as they’re responsible for treating patients in life-threatening situations. This specialty of nursing requires quick thinking, adaptability, and the ability to stay calm under pressure.

It’s very fast-paced and you don’t always get to see the patient heal or get to know the outcome. Your goal is to identify the issue, treat and stabilize as fast as possible, and get the patient where they need to go (home or to a higher level of care).

To work in the emergency department (ED), it will help if you obtain your basic life support (BLS), advanced cardiac life support (ACLS), as well as your pediatric advanced life support (pediatric advanced life support) certifications. After working in this specialty, you can obtain your certification from the Board of Certification for Emergency Nursing.

Where to Find Emergency Nursing Jobs

Check out hospital ER departments, trauma centers, and urgent care clinics. Don’t forget to keep an eye on popular job websites and social media groups for nursing professionals like the Emergency Nurses Association’s popular Facebook Page.

Resources to Become a High-Performing Emergency Department Nurse

3. Intensive Care Unit (ICU) Nursing: Where the Action Happens

ICU nursing involves caring for critically ill patients who require constant monitoring and specialized interventions. This demanding role offers a unique opportunity to develop expertise in critical care nursing. You can work in a general intensive care units, or a specialty.

ICU-level specialty units include neuro, cardiac, transplant, trauma, and surgical for the adult population. There are pediatric and neonatal ICUs as well.

Where to Find ICU Nursing Jobs

Visit hospital websites, particularly those with Level 1 Trauma Centers and renowned critical care units. Many hospitals have ICUs, however smaller and more rural hospital will send out their more complex ICU patients to larger facilities. The larger the the hospital, and if they have specific designations or specialties (like Level 1 Trauma, Certified Stroke Center, research facilities, transplant units, etc.) will give you an idea of how sick the patients are that are at that hospital.

Networking through conferences and workshops can also help you secure a position in this specialized field. The American Association of Critical Care Nurses is a longstanding professional nursing organization that has an reputable annual conference called NTI, as well as many other events throughout the year. Consider becoming a member! I was one the entire time I worked as an ICU nurse and loved the contact hours they provided and went to NTI 5 times! I also obtained my CCRN certification in 2015.

Resources to Become a Top ICU Nurse

4. Cardiac Nursing: The Heart of the Matter

Cardiac nursing focuses on caring for patients with heart-related conditions. As a cardiac nurse, can work in various hospital settings, such as cardiology, cardiac surgery, and cardiovascular intensive care units. Many new graduates will start out on a cardiology floor or cardiac med-surg unit and then progress to a cardiovascular intensive care unit once they get acclimated to inpatient nursing.

Where to Find Cardiac Nursing Jobs

Explore job opportunities at hospitals with specialized cardiac care units.

Networking with professional organizations like the American Association of Heart Failure Nurses (AAHFN) can provide job leads and support. Reputable publications and organizations often rank hospitals based on specialty areas, including cardiac care. For example, U.S. News & World Report releases annual hospital rankings, which include a separate list for the best hospitals in cardiology and heart surgery. Checking these lists can help you identify high-quality cardiac service lines.

Look for accreditations and certifications: Hospitals that excel in specific areas may have accreditations and certifications from recognized organizations, such as the American College of Cardiology (ACC), the American Heart Association (AHA), or The Joint Commission. These designations indicate that the hospital meets or exceeds certain quality and performance standards in cardiac care and may help you find hospitals that provide excellent cardiac care.

Want to Connect With Other Nurses?

Join our non-Facebook online community just for nurses.

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Resources to Become a Heart-Stopping (Just Kidding!) Cardiology Nurse

5. Neurology Nursing: Nursing for the Mind & Soul

Neurology nursing involves caring for patients with neurological conditions, such as strokes, brain injuries, and seizures. Neurology nurses work in various settings, including neuro or stroke floors, stepdown units, and neurocritical care units.

Where to Find Neuro Nursing Jobs

Look for job openings at hospitals with specialized neurology departments. Networking through professional organizations like the American Association of Neuroscience Nurses (AANN) and attending conferences can help you find job opportunities in this field. High-quality neuro patient care and cutting edge technology isn’t something that’s available absolutely everywhere. If you want to work in one of the nation’s top neuro facilities, check out this list.

Resources to Become an Exceptional Neuro Nurse

6. Home Health Nursing: Healing Happens at Home

Home health nursing offers the opportunity to provide personalized care to patients in their homes. This non-hospital setting allows nurses to develop close relationships with patients and their families, facilitating optimal care.

Where to Find Home Health Nursing Jobs

Explore home health agencies and online job boards. Many hospitals and healthcare organizations will have a home health department, but then you may also have freestanding home health agencies. Because of this, I highly recommend checking out websites like Indeed for a more comprehensive listing.

Also, consider networking with local nursing groups and attending industry conferences can also help you discover home health nursing opportunities. If you discover local home health agencies through your Indeed search, then look those companies up on social media to get a better feel for them. (Not all agencies are created equal!) It’s a major plus (and leveraging point for higher pay) if you are bilingual, specifically Spanish-speaking.

Resources to Becoming a Great Home Health Nurse

7. Occupational Health Nursing: Workplace Wellness Warriors

Occupational health nurses work with employers to maintain a safe and healthy work environment for employees. In this role, you’ll focus on promoting wellness, preventing injuries, and managing workplace-related health issues. You may also hear this referred to as an “employee health nurse”.

Where to Find Occupational Health Nursing Jobs

Look for job openings in corporate, industrial, or government settings. Networking through professional organizations, such as the American Association of Occupational Health Nurses (AAOHN), can help you find and secure occupational health nursing positions.

Resources to Becoming an Amazing Occupational Health Nurse

Public Health Nursing: Improving Community Health

Public health nurses work to improve the overall health and well-being of communities. In this role, you’ll focus on disease prevention, health promotion, and community education.

Where to Find Public Health Nursing Jobs

Explore opportunities at local health departments, government agencies, and non-profit organizations. Networking with public health professionals and joining organizations like the American Public Health Association (APHA) can also be beneficial.

Resources to Become a Public Health Nurse

Full disclosure here: I tried to find tips and resources to help excel in this role, but came up short. The main resources I could find centered around how to become a PHN and FAQ’s, but none on how to optimize. So, if you have any helpful links, please drop them in the comments!

General Tips for Finding Nursing Jobs

Set Up a LinkedIn Profile

LinkedIn is an excellent platform for professional networking and job searching. Ensure your profile is up-to-date and highlights your nursing experience, skills, and education. Prospective employers will Google you, so it’s great if a highly professional LinkedIn profile shows up when they do! Also, you can network on LinkedIn throughout your career, which can enable you to explore more job opportunities.

Conduct a Google Maps Search

If you’re new to an area, search Google Maps for local healthcare facilities. Visit their websites to explore job openings and learn about their specific services and work environment. Because nursing often is not a job you can do from home, location is a pivotal aspect of the job search. Getting a feel for the layout of an area and the different employment options is very helpful.

Even if you are familiar with a region, you may not be aware of certain areas. A Google Maps search will enable you to look around at all of the options!

Leverage the Power of Networking

Networking is a vital aspect of job searching. Networking isn’t just for executive-level nurses. You are networking during clinicals! You are building rapport and creating a reputation with those interactions and if you do so wisely, you can create powerful cheerleaders who will speak positively about you to hiring managers. It’s one thing for you to state on a resume that you’re a strong communicator; it’s another thing for the charge nurse of a unit you completed your senior year practicum to say the same thing.

Ask nurses and nursing assistants you worked closely with to be a reference – heck, even ask doctors! I completed my practicum in a small rural ER where I got to know the physicians pretty well. When I was applying during my final semester and I asked them if they’d write a letter of recommendation for me – AND THEY DID! They didn’t offer it (because I’m sure that wasn’t something that was going to cross their mind) but when I asked, they were more than happy to do so.

In conclusion, the nursing field offers a diverse range of job opportunities for new graduates, both inside and outside of the hospital setting. By exploring these top 8 nursing job options and using the tips provided, you’ll be well on your way to finding a fulfilling and rewarding nursing career.

More Resources on Jobs for Nurses

Are you done with the guess-work of applying and interviewing for nursing jobs?

hired: the ultimate guide to nurse resumes and interviews course cover

Hired from FreshRN is a self-paced, online course for ambitious nurses who want to be the ideal candidate for their dream job. Amber Nibling, MSN RN-BC, and Kati Kleber, MSN RN have interviewed hundreds of nurse applicants and they give you the inside scoop of what interviewers are thinking. Learn everything you need to know to impress potential employers (and yourself) by learning what the hiring team expects from you, so you can not only meet, but exceed those expectations.


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