On December 9th, 2011, many Boston College nursing students attended the annual “Nursing Career Fair” held in the Murray Room of the Yawkey Athletic Center.  Representatives from various hospitals and graduate universities traveled to Boston College in order to provide information of prospective jobs and graduate programs to graduating BC students.  A few of the bigger organizations in attendance included: Georgetown University Hospital, The Mayo Clinic, Yale New Haven Healthcare System, John Hopkins University, and The Boston College School of Nursing Graduate Program.

Many of the hospitals had pamphlets and informational folders providing details regarding their nurse graduate programs.  While some facilities offer orientations that last only about 6 weeks, other hospitals offer nurse residency programs that last up to 12 months to truly help the new grad nurse transition into the role as an independent registered nurse.  For instance, a hospital that has earned Magnet Status from the American Nurses’ Credentialing Center (ANCC) is more likely to offer a lengthy orientation program that incorporates classroom education as well as supervised clinical practice for at least six months following hire.  Yale New Haven Hospital and Georgetown University Hospital are magnet hospitals and both offer the one-year BSN National Nurse Residency Program which was developed by the AACN and the Chief Nursing Officers of the University Health System Consortium.  These yearlong residencies are increasing in number due to their positive feedback and success in easing the transition period for new nurses.  Another benefit of these residency programs is that they allow new nurses to network with other grads who are also just starting their nursing careers.  New RNs develop friendships in the workplace and feel a sense of support as they move together through didactic classroom education, frequent debriefing sessions, and new grad support groups.

Regardless of whether or not one chooses to work at a “magnet hospital”, the orientation and preceptorships that an employer offers are a significant factor to consider when choosing a future job.  The ability to connect with other nurse graduates, as well as the option to choose or change a preceptor (if necessary) are vital to ensuring a positive orientation period.  Of course, work scheduling, benefits such as health and dental insurance, tuition assistance, and paid continuing education hours, and a competitive salary are also significant determinants in one’s decision to reject or accept a job offer.

Students looking for guidance and assistance with resumes and the job search process can turn to BC’s Career Center where resume critiques, interview tips, and internship opportunities are available to them.  On the other hand, those students wishing to pursue graduate studies following their BSN networked with representatives from graduate programs like Boston College, Georgetown University, and John Hopkins at December’s career fair.  These universities offer programs ranging from master’s degrees to PhDs to DNPs, giving Boston College’s graduating student nurses plenty of options in how to further their higher education in the nursing field.  Overall, the career fair was a good preview of the many opportunities and options that students have as they complete their nursing education at BC.