We all know nursing school is stressful and almost unbearable. We end up with no social life, possible gastric ulcers, sleep deprivation… a case of the crazies. Adding a job can be pushing it, but I’m here to tell you that it is worth it. So why get a job in the hospital during school? Why worry about this when you’re rockin’ your clinicals and your GPA is stellar? To put it simply, it’s not all about what you know, it’s who you know and if you’re already “in,” it’s possible that you’ll end up with multiple job offers as you complete your last semester.
Patient Care Tech or Nurse Assistant positions are golden, and here’s why:
1. Basics Baby!
If you ever want to boost your productivity and time management skills, become a PCT. Endless vitals, bed baths, lab draws, POCT, ROM, transfers and EKG’s… on 12 patients! You’ll become better at these basic skills, which will make you a better nurse. Once you’re an RN, you can tell who’s been a tech and who hasn’t…. There’s always one nurse who will insist that they’re too good to wash their patient.
In addition to this, you’re going to learn a ton! All of the nurses that I worked with were so helpful in teaching me any and everything. I was able to watch a cool thoracentesis, cardioversion, assist in code situations and other bedside procedures that I wasn’t able to in clinicals.
2. Internal Affairs
You’re in the system! That long 8hr 2day hospital orientation has been completed and you have access to all the job postings that don’t go public. Many hospitals hire internally first before posting, so that job you’ve been waiting for can be yours!
Also, if you have a chance to work on a floor that you’ll want to be a nurse on, you’ll be able to convey your desires and show off your work ethic to (hopefully) your future nurse manager. If you’re not on a floor you want to work on, this experience will also come in handy when you’re applying for your job. You’re displaying excellent time management skills by showing your future employer all that you were able to juggle in school while also being interested in that field.
In my area, we have Student Nurse Tech positions. This means that you’re hired as a part-time/per diem employee. The managers know that you’re in school and are incredibly flexible with your schedule and hours. I was able to work 4, 8, or 12 hour shifts as they fit in my schedule, without worries of missing class or not having ample time to study for exams.
While not everyone is able to work during school, I suggest that you don’t get a position until you’ve gotten a feel for your classes. I started working my junior/senior year on a cardiac step-down unit. By that time I knew how much time I needed to set aside to complete assignments and study for exams. To be honest, working during school helped me keep track of everything. I learned to make the most out of my time with the little time that I had, and it’s still paying off to this day.
Some other tips… don’t be afraid to let your manager know that you’re interested/not interested in working after you graduate. By 3 months of working, I was already receiving verbal offers for positions but I had another unit in mind that I wanted to work for. While I enjoyed my tech job, I was extremely careful not to burn any bridges when declining job offers. You have no idea what your future holds and who you’ll need as a reference!
So, if you can, work as a tech. Even if it’s just per diem, you’ll have some experience under your belt. However, don’t compromise your studies for a job. If you don’t have to work it’s definitely best not to if you’re overwhelmed with your studies.
Happy job hunting!