Choosing a Nursing Position

NU - Choosing a Position

By Michele N Pedulla DNP, ARNP, CPNP-PC
Graduate Nursing Professor, Purdue Global School of Nursing

After the excitement of earning your nursing degree and license wears off, new graduate nurses face the somewhat daunting task of pursuing their first nursing job. 

First-time job seekers and career changers alike need to approach their job search with a thoughtful strategy and the same level of determination that got them across the NCLEX finish line.

While you may be inclined to play the numbers game and apply everywhere in hopes of landing a position, you would be better served by adopting a more discerning approach. Banks and Bailey (2010) recognized that there are factors, such as job satisfaction, that play a significant role in nurses staying in their current role and in the profession of nursing. A workplace environment where the new nurse can flourish is a paramount requirement and, as a new nurse, knowing what features to consider when applying for a new position will increase the likelihood of a fulfilling career.

Remember that the interview process is a two-way street. You are being interviewed for a position but you are also interviewing the place of employment to identify if it is a good fit for you. Be prepared for the interview. Having a list of questions indicates that you are serious about the position.

One important element to consider is financial compensation for provided services. Having an understanding of the salary in the interested area and geographical location while considering the level of experience before the interview is vital. As with any new position, benefits including health and life insurance, retirement options, vacation, and sick time are all important considerations.

Supportive compensation for the professional degree may be equally as important as salary, including factors such as onsite continuing education (CE) opportunities, licensure renewal reimbursement, malpractice insurance, and educational reimbursement. Nurses and their patients benefit from lifelong learning. Job applicants should consider if potential employers value and reward employees who seek advanced degrees and training.

It is also important to inquire about patient and employee satisfaction—both factors are directly related to retention. Workload and acuity are noted to be directly related to job satisfaction (Hairr, Salisbury, Johannsson, & Redfern-Vance, 2014) and should be inquired about in the interview process. Other factors to consider include training and mentorship, advancement opportunities, schedule of hours, and the requirements for working weekends, holidays, and on-call. Also consider the distance and hours of travel.

According to a national health care salary study recently released by Health eCareers TM, an online career hub for the health care industry, it is a job seeker's market right now. Of those surveyed, 86% say they’re confident they could find a favorable new position in the next 12 months, and 34% anticipate changing employers this year.

Health eCareers also reported that while the new generation of workers values work/life balance, only 60% of those surveyed believe their current employer offers motivating factors beyond compensation. Top cited benefits were flexible hours, vacation/paid time off, training and certification courses, and more interesting or challenging assignments, according to the report.

As a job applicant, you should go into an interview knowing both what you bring to an organization and what you want from the organization as an employee. Nursing can be a very fulfilling career, but your job satisfaction can be greatly improved if you find the right fit.

Article originally published in Advance for Nurses


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Michele N. Pedulla is a graduate nursing professor at Purdue Global School of Nursing. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not represent the view of Purdue Global. The University cannot guarantee employment or career advancement. 


Banks, Z. M., & Bailey, J. H. (2010). Career motivation in newly licensed registered nurses: What makes them remain. The Qualitative Report, 15(6), 1489-1503. Retrieved from

Hairr, D. C., Salisbury, H., Johannsson, M., & Redfern-Vance, N. (2014). Nurse staffing and the relationship to job satisfaction and retention. Nursing Economic$, 32(3), 142-147.