1. Allen, Serena BA

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This country is in the midst of a major nursing shortage, yet most of my classmates, accelerated master of science in nursing (MSN) students, are struggling to find work as registered nurses (RNs). According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, US Department of Labor, the 68 of us represent just one class of 110 accelerated bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) and MSN programs in the country. 1 If we're struggling to find work, then I'm sure that we are not alone in our absolute dismay, exhaustion, and frustration.


Let me elaborate. Our program is designed to educate students with a bachelor's degree in another field who have chosen nursing as a second career. The first year of our 3-year program is an accelerated BSN program, at the end of which we sit for the RN board examination. Many students begin the MSN portion of the program in the fall of the second year. A lot of us have made a careful decision to take a year off from school to work full time as RNs to develop and refine our nursing skills. We plan to return to school the following year, while working part time and attending graduate school full time. I should mention that we must first receive special permission to hold our coveted spots in the MSN program.


This plan is a challenging one that speaks to our dedication to developing our nursing skills and career. Yet it has not been well received by most nurse managers. Our University of California, San Francisco School of Nursing is ranked second in the nation, according to the U.S. News & World Report, 2 attracting some of the brightest and most dedicated nursing students and future professionals. And yet throughout the nursing job application process this spring, our applications and telephone calls have been largely ignored. If offered an interview, the adequacy of our education is sometimes questioned, and our future educational goals are scorned. Although I am generalizing, most of my classmates have described their nursing job search in a similarly unpleasant manner. It has been particularly difficult for those seeking employment in more specialized fields, such as pediatrics and maternal-child health.


My classmates and I understand how expensive it is to orient new graduate nurses and, to be hired, we must commit to at least one full year of employment. That's exactly what we've tried to do (actually committing to at least 3 years because we plan to work throughout graduate school). We want to develop our nursing skills in accordance with hospital policies and procedures and build long-term relationships with an interdisciplinary team of healthcare professionals. We might even want to work on the same unit as advanced-practice nurses. Adequately training and supporting new nurses like us is a long-term organizational investment. I think the retention results would be pleasantly surprising. Employers of nurses (seasoned and new) need to be more flexible and future-oriented. Implementing recruitment tactics that have not worked well in the past will not address the current nursing shortage. Nursing isn't what it used to be, so nursing recruitment shouldn't be either.


Although there is a lot of literature on good nursing recruitment tactics, there seems to be a disconnect between what is actually practiced and what is preached. As one of the more optimistic students in my program, it saddens me that even my idealism has been diminished by the harsh reality of the current nursing job market. There's a nursing shortage all right, but only a certain kind of nurse is wanted for hire.


Serena Allen, BA


Master's Entry-Level Program in Nursing student, University of California, San Francisco, School of Nursing (




1. Bureau of Labor Statistics, US Department of Labor. Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2004-05 Edition, Registered Nurses. Available at: Accessed May 16, 2004. [Context Link]


2. Health disciplines: nursing (master's) ranked in 2003. U.S. News & World Report. Available at: Accessed May 16, 2004. [Context Link]