September 1, 2021
Given the change of course that has happened in the world, we wanted to provide expert opinions on what aspiring graduates can do to start off their careers in an uncertain economic climate. We wanted to know what skills will be more important, where the economy is doing relatively well, and if there will be any lasting effects on the job market.
Companies are looking for candidates that can handle the new responsibilities of the job market. Recent graduates actually have an advantage because they are comfortable using newer technologies and have been communicating virtually their whole lives. They can take what they've learned and apply it immediately.
We spoke to professors and experts from several universities and companies to get their opinions on where the job market for recent graduates is heading, as well as how young graduates entering the industry can be adequately prepared. Here are their thoughts.
American International College
Wenatchee Valley College
NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing
University of Detroit Mercy Aquinas
SUNY Polytechnic Institute
George Fox University
American International College
School of Health Sciences
Catharine Armentrout: Nurse practitioners are registered nurses with a Master's or Doctorate degree that allows one to practice in their chosen field. I am a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP), and my training prepared me to take care of patients in the community in primary care. I am Board certified to practice as an FNP. Family Nurse Practitioners can care for newborns to geriatric patients. Times have changed since I graduated, and most inpatient occupations for Nurse Practitioners require an Acute Care Board certification, which is a different learning track than the FNP program.
Knowing what jobs to apply for is the first step. Understand the area you want to work in and consider all aspects of the job to include distance to travel back and forth to work, schedule, benefits, CME's, PTO, employer reimbursement for licenses to include RN and NP licenses, DEA license (every 3 years), State registration to prescribe (not every state has this, but Massachusetts does (150 a year)), Board Certification renewal (every 5 years), training schedule and length of time to train, expected number of patients that will be seen per day once fully independent, loan repayment, tuition reimbursement and RVU's if applicable.
Skills that stand out on a Nurse Practitioner's resume should include:
Use of EMR's (i.e., EPIC), dictation applications like Dragon
Performing procedures including IV placement, Phlebotomy, punch biopsy for skin changes, I and D of wounds, suturing, wound care (wound vac, e.g.), Foley placement as you might be surprised what occurs in a primary care office
Ability to interpret EKG's, CXR's, lab results
Ability to identify skin changes, stages of wounds and develop treatment plans for wound care
Ability to reduce utilization of the emergency room via primary care/ telehealth and preventing hospitalizations when possible
Ability to review end of life decisions with patients and families, including MOLST, Advanced directives, Health Care Proxy
Having a good bedside manner, ability to speak to patients and families using language they can understand. Having the ability to follow through on previous visits regarding abnormal labs, diagnostic tests even if the results are normal and overall providing excellent customer service.
Knowing when to ask for help is always a strength. You will most likely be among very experienced providers, and they will know you care because you asked about something you were not sure about or requested a second opinion.
Nurse Practitioners, first starting out, will likely receive the starting pay rate for the area they are working in. Urban vs. Suburban vs. Rural areas will have, often, significant differences, and it is not always about the cost of living. The longer the FNP was a nurse before graduating may not have much impact on starting pay, but nursing experience and clinical experiences during graduate school should be noted on the resume to help the employer understand the true clinical background of the applicant.
Due to your research! Evaluate practices and check reviews. Network your colleagues and co-workers and think outside the box because your next job might be a dream come true!
Wenatchee Valley College
Medical Assistant program
Jan Kaiser: At Wenatchee Valley College we have not seen a drop in number of students looking at health care careers, in fact number of students apply has gone up during this pandemic times. Job market has been good and we don't think this will change anytime soon.
Jan Kaiser: Our local clinical sites are asking for certified medical assistants. Our college provides a lot of skill based learning and hands-on experience which is evident by the employers and they seek out our graduates over other programs.
Jan Kaiser: Most of our graduates stay locally in the Wenatchee Valley or surrounding areas for employment. Jobs are plentiful and graduates are hired within 1-2 months of graduating.
Regina Cardaci Ph.D.: The COVID-19 pandemic conditions prevented many nursing students in the country from participating in traditional clinical experiences since the spring semester of 2020. Schools of Nursing worked to identify innovative solutions to provide clinical and simulation experiences, leaving new graduates entering the workforce with less clinical education than past nurses. Also, many states declared states of emergency, allowing nursing graduates to work before passing the NCLEX exam. While this may keep graduate nurses in the learning mindset, this can create the potential for new unlicensed nurses, who may not have completed their clinical experiences, to enter practice with different learning, social, and emotional needs
Regina Cardaci Ph.D.: -Critical care, specially care of ventilated patients.
In addition these obvious certifications, there needs to be preceptors who are able to help transition these new graduates, who may be underprepared from Schools of Nursing, to becoming independently functioning nurses. The importance of the preceptor in new nurse retention and patient safety cannot be minimized. Healthcare organizations that place a large number of new graduates may benefit from increasing focus on preceptor training for its current staff.
Regina Cardaci Ph.D.: Critical thinking and creative problem solving
-Attitude and confidence
Dr. Charman Miller: I believe there will be an impact on our graduates who have progressed and completed nursing education during the pandemic. I believe they will possess a greater appreciation and understanding of the importance of a global health perspective and the response to public health crises.
Dr. Charman Miller: Recent graduates can expect to see some of the processes implemented during the pandemic to be preserved in contemporary post-pandemic practice. For example, the use of heightened infection control measures such as screenings, more frequent hand washing and face coverings to reduce the transmission and spread of infectious disease will remain much more widespread than pre-pandemic.
Dr. Charman Miller: Our clinical partners have consistently listed qualities such as being self-motivated, ability to work in teams, and having sound clinical decision-making skills as ones they value. I believe that a single skill that has proven to be highly beneficial in these times of pandemic is that of having the ability to communicate effectively with patients and families. As patients and their families have faced terrifying situations and have been restricted from being together due to COVID restrictions, nurses have become an even more critical connection between those patients and their families to share patient updates and offer reassurance or support.
Dr. Mary Ellen Glasgow Ph.D.: I believe that an enduring impact of COVID-19 will be the innovations that occurred during the pandemic: 1) The use of FaceTime and Zoom for health professionals and patients to communicate with family; 2) efficient use of equipment outside room in the ICU area; 3) use of respite lounges for nurses, physicians, and other frontline workers that provide a space to rest and rejuvenation with principles of holistic nursing/medicine; 4) the need for Institutional Healthcare Support Teams where team members, trained to respond and listen to distressed clinicians in empathetic, non-judgmental ways are available in real-time; 5) nursing and medical education will focus more on virology and infection control procedures/practices; and 6) there will be greater emphasis on racial and healthcare inequality and how to overcome it.
Dr. Mary Ellen Glasgow Ph.D.: New graduates will enter a busy healthcare system with very ill patients - those with COVID and its sequela, and those who have not sought healthcare due to fear of COVID or lack of financial resources. They very well may find mentors and experienced healthcare professionals that are tired and psychologically drained.
Dr. Mary Ellen Glasgow Ph.D.: Students will need keen assessment skills, strong interpersonal skills, and proficiency in basic skills - physical assessment, lab findings analysis, medication administration, wound care, and basic physical care as well as compassion, cultural awareness, clinical reasoning, and patient advocacy skills.
Ivy Razmus Ph.D.: The biggest trend I have seen is the need for infrastructures that support teleconferencing with patients and other health care communities. Materials and supplies that allow for patients to receive care and assessment from health care providers from their homes as needed Without these materials such as a blood pressure cuff, thermometer, stethoscope, and means to assess we are missing important information in the prevention of problems.
There is a need for technology in critical care, acute care, and outpatient care. The pandemic has changed access to health care because of hospital overcrowding and patients' inability to have direct contact because of restrictions and fear of contracting COVID. This will result in chronic illnesses and cancers not being diagnosed earlier which will increase the number of sick patients within the health care settings and delay in care. Furthermore, the method of computer and telecommunication is not well established as effective in the non-computer literate populations.
Ivy Razmus Ph.D.: I think informatics and data management are essential in today's health care market. Administration of vaccines, documentation of interventions, and accurate medication administration. In some states, they don't have enough Registered Nurses so they are using LPNs to perform many duties such as medication administration, overseeing the care of direct caregivers. During this pandemic, we are using medically trained national guard members to administer the vaccines. They are often using paramedics and emergency medical technicians in the emergency departments.
Ivy Razmus Ph.D.: There are many different career opportunities open in health care. They range from laboratory to nursing. Not all positions are direct patient care, there is a need for computer literate professionals who can help with developing new ways of communicating and interacting with patients and other health care professionals in addition to capturing data and analyzing it for measuring outcomes. If your interest is in medical school, experience at any level in the hospital as a technician or monitor technician helps to give you the experience that programs look for. It is important to experience what health care is like so that you can know if this field is a good fit for you.
Dr. Elizabeth Aquino Ph.D.: The COVID-19 pandemic will have a lasting impact on all graduates. It shifted the way students had to learn and interact with others. Nursing students were particularly impacted because, during the early months of the pandemic, students were unable to complete clinical hours in hospitals and clinical settings. Therefore, recent graduates will have missed some hands-on clinical hours, which were substituted with online simulation or remote telemedicine hours.
Although recent graduates may be concerned about their limited clinical hours, they must remember that all nursing students were impacted similarly by the pandemic and hospitals know that, additionally, online simulation scenarios are valuable intensive critical thinking exercises that are not always available in the clinical setting. Also, I believe the shift in healthcare delivery will continue to utilize more technology such as telemedicine to connect with patients; recent graduates will have the technical skills and experience to work remotely. As graduates become nurses, I'm hopeful that they will become stronger advocates for the nursing profession after witnessing the many challenges nurses working on the frontlines experienced during the pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic exposed existing health disparities that disproportionately impact communities of color. Nurses should understand how social determinants of health impact the communities they serve and how to ensure health equity.
Dr. Elizabeth Aquino Ph.D.: New nurses entering the workforce will continue to require the same skills they have always needed to practice safe patient care. The pandemic will not necessarily change their training because nurses are well-educated on educating patients on health promotion and disease prevention and are prepared to care for a wide range of patient illnesses and conditions, including those with various contagion precautions. Nurses are also well aware that healthcare is constantly changing as new illnesses, treatments, and practices evolve; so, their flexibility, adaptability, resilience, and ability to practice to their license's full scope is important. To retain nurses in the clinical setting, adequate hospital support and an emphasis on using self-care strategies are essential.
Dr. Elizabeth Aquino Ph.D.: Nursing students are high achievers, so having a high GPA alone may not be enough to stand out from other applicants. A well-rounded resume should include community or volunteer service and demonstrate one's commitment to the nursing profession, such as being an active member of a professional nursing association or honor society. If a student completes a research or service project, the title of the work should be included in the resume and talk about the project in the interview if there is an opportunity to share the work. Many hospitals engage nurses in research and unit or hospital-wide projects to improve clinical outcomes; therefore, having at least a foundational understanding of research will be valuable in helping move an institutions' research and projects forward.
Kathleen Sellers Ph.D.: In the field of nursing the pandemic is accentuating the nursing leadership shortage. The majority of nurse leaders are between ages of 45 and 70. As those in the latter part of their careers choose to retire, there becomes a heightened need for well educated, energetic professionals to assume the positions of middle manager and chief nurse executive. The growing complexities of healthcare administration given the development of networks of care, assuming risk and technology in addition to the pandemic, require an educational preparation in these areas to retain new leaders.
Kathleen Sellers Ph.D.: Skill sets that are particularly needed include systems thinking, finance proficiency, informatics, change management experience with the goal of enhanced clinical quality, and exquisite communication skills.
Kathleen Sellers Ph.D.: Opportunities are available throughout the country with a particular need in rural areas. Central New York in particular has a need for creative healthcare leaders due to the constraints of financial reimbursement.
Department of Nursing
Amy Grugan Ph.D.: I think we will see many openings for nurses in acute care or bedside hospital care. This pandemic has been a challenge for all health care workers in not only the physical and intellectual burden but also the emotional burden. Acute care organizations will need to ensure we have a continuation of quality care for the entire population who seek services at their institutions. In addition, public health will need educators, caregivers, and staff to drive plans for vaccinations on a large scale. Now, more than ever, communities need strong public health professionals who can plan, implement, and evaluate initiatives to maintain the health of their residents.
Amy Grugan Ph.D.: Presently, there is a nursing shortage, so finding employment as a nurse may not be an issue. While nursing graduates might not get hired into their "ideal" job, they should consider taking employment in an area that may not be of their first interest in order to gain experience. In turn, they will gain a greater appreciation for a new role.
Amy Grugan Ph.D.: Keep an open mind as to all of the learning opportunities you have. Work to become, and be a part of, a culture of positivity. Focus on your patients and ensuring you, and the health care team, are providing the absolute best care possible. Work with patients and families to educate, encourage, and enhance healthy habits. Learn as much as you can so you enhance patient safety and become a knowledgeable and compassionate caregiver. Lastly, ensure you take time to put your new role in perspective, this is the beginning of your journey. Experiential learning is a great teacher, don't be afraid to ask questions so you understand.
Pam Fifer: The pandemic has changed our world. For new nursing graduates it emphasized the importance of nursing, public health, adaptability, and health equity. New graduates are entering the profession at a critical time with their eyes wide open.
Pam Fifer: New graduates need to be flexible, adaptable, and resilient. Health care is constantly changing with new technologies, evidence, and innovations always on the horizon. Graduates also need strong clinical judgment and communication skills.
Pam Fifer: Experiences demonstrating flexibility, resilience, communication, and clinical judgment.