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While many students are going through On-Campus Recruiting or have received their offers, the job search for Penn nurses is only just beginning.

The Nursing class of 2012 saw about 75 percent of its graduates fully employed by the fall of 2012. About 9 percent went on to continue graduate school education and the rest were either partially employed or seeking employment. The top employers were the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. The class of 2011 saw lower statistics in full-time employment with 59 percent working full time, but saw a larger number of students who sought graduate education.

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The process for nurses really starts in their second semesters, when students are assigned to their final clinicals.

Clinicals are a part of the Nursing curriculum that places students into a hospital setting and gives them a chance to learn with the support of staff nurses. Nursing seniors typically get placed on the floors or departments of their choosing, instead of being randomly assigned as they are in earlier semesters. They start off working with professional nurses, but by the end of the semester, students typically get to take care of patients on their own.

“If they have a sense of where they want to work, and what type of patient they want to work with, they can have the experience of working with that type of patient before they graduate,” Kathleen McCauley, associate dean for Academic Programs at the Nursing school, said.

The clinicals at Penn give students more hands on experience with patient care than they would get at other schools, McCauley said. The clinicals also help students build their resumes and work experience.

“Because of the clinical courses, they graduate with a list of faculty that can write references for them,” McCauley said.

For some, the search begins with the summer before senior year. Student nurses in their junior year are encouraged to look for externship programs that allow them to work in hospital units and get hands on experience.

“[Penn] highly suggests that we do externships to build on the skills we’ve been doing in clinicals throughout your junior year,” said Jessica Geminder, a senior in Nursing.

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Geminder said she spent a long time researching possible externship programs throughout her spring semester junior year and finally received an offer in New Jersey at the Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation. “The idea is for you to work with them for the entire summer and hopefully come back to work for them after graduation,” she said.

Not all students are as lucky to gain those experiences. “Externships used to be something that a lot of students were able to take advantage of. The problem is that when [the] economic downturn happened, a lot of those jobs went away, “ said McCauley.

Although the school tries to help students to the best of its ability, students still feel a lot of pressure in the job search.

With the recent economic downturn, the field of nursing isn’t as wide open as it used to be, making the job search a lot harder on students.

“For now, what we tend to do is tell student they have to be flexible, they might not land in the department they want right after school, but they can get on the units where they get good experiences and be a star and as jobs open up, they can transfer in, “said McCauley.

“They do provide a lot of resources, but if you’re not proactive about it, you’re not going to know what’s happening and you’re not going to get any help unless you ask for it,” said Jenna Schultz, a senior in Nursing.

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The process for nurses also tends to take longer. Students are in the very beginning of their job search now, as compared to students who participate in OCR who may already have a job for after graduation.

“I’ve heard that the average time for nurses to get a job is about 6 months after you graduate. When I came to Penn, I thought that nurses were in high demand but nowadays it is much more slow going,” Amy Kuan, a senior in Nursing, said.

“Now I’ve been emailing people asking about their application process and I get a notification every time that a job is posted that comes up and fits my description. However, a lot of places don’t post level one nursing jobs until December or January,” said Schultz.

A majority of students will only receive their jobs offers in the late spring or early summer after they pass their National Council Licensure Examination, which allows them to become registered nurses. This is because “hospitals or community agencies will tend to not give you an offer until they see that you pass the NCLEX exam,” said McCauley.

The Nursing school encourages students to take the exams as soon as possible after graduation. “The more they delay, the chances that you’re going to be as successful are not as great,” McCauley said.

Some students do not have to worry about the job search. Geminder, for example, has already had a job offer since she was accepted to Penn. Geminder and Kuan, along with a few others in their year, are a part of the George H. and Estelle M. Sands Nursing Scholars Program, which awards students $30,000 over the course of their junior and senior year, and gives them a chance at the Medical Center of Princeton for two years after graduation

The University tries to encourage students to be flexible with their job search and take the offers that they can just coming out of college.

“It’s a tough, tough job market and students have to be flexible and think beyond what it would have been like when we were really in a super nursing shortage,” said McCauley.

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