Why Good Nurses Leave the Profession

Why Good Nurses Leave the Profession

It’s 8:00 a.m. and Christa Thompson, BSN, RN,* is travelling to a local Houston hospital to educate nursing staff on the latest medical device. A typical day is anywhere from two hours up to 12 hours for her, but she’s not unusually tired or stressed by the end of the day. A nurse for over five and a half years, Thompson is a RN by trade and works part-time as an independent clinical consultant training other people on the use of medical devices. She credits her nursing education and curiosity at an international nursing conference for getting her this job.

“I went up to a medical device booth at the conference and asked the representative if they hired nurses, simply out of curiosity,” says Thompson. “I was pretty much hired on the spot.” She loves her consultant job and knows her new career is a dream job for most nurses, but nursing is not where her true passion lies.

Thompson plans on leaving nursing to become a doctor. Nursing has been a rewarding career for her, but she realizes she can’t do nursing forever, even if her intentions weren’t to continue on to medical school. She is not alone in the sentiment that nursing at the bedside is not something that most nurses can do for their entire career. Her path to transition from the bedside is unique but not uncommon to many nurses in the profession.

Of the 3,514,679 nurses in the United States, nearly 63.2% of RNs and 29.3% of LPNs work in a hospital setting. The RN Work Project reports an average of 33.5% of new RNs leave the bedside within the first two years. Leaving the bedside to pursue other nursing positions does not necessarily mean nurses leave the profession, but it is a catalyst to do so. Why do some nurses leave the bedside and eventually the profession? Ask any nurse and the answers are varied, but common themes seem to ring true for most.

Why Nurses Leave the Bedside (and, Ultimately, the Profession)

Poor Management. One of the greatest complaints nurses have is the lack of support from their management team. What makes a poor manager? Some nurses may say it’s one who doesn’t value open-communication and feedback from his or her staff. Some say it’s the management team that plays favorites amongst staff or a particular shift. Yet, other nurses say it’s the manager who is not supportive of a nurse advancing her career. The list could go on forever, but one common frustration among nurses is the overall lack of support for those at the bedside. It seems to some that once nurses become managers, they “forget where they come from” and are oblivious to the struggles a bedside nurse faces on a daily basis.

Management may not even be aware of the stressors their staff encounters working the bedside. It could be that they are so wrapped up with their own job that they can’t focus on what would make life better for their staff. Or it could be that they just don’t care. Whatever the case, nurses do feel strongly about poor management.

Thompson agrees that management sometimes shows little consideration for those working at the bedside: “I feel like the night shift is ignored by management, like they have no voice.” The same sentiment echoes true for many other nurses. They feel as if management does not value them as part of the health care team—just as a docile staff that follows orders without question.
The best form of leadership follows a diplomatic approach; meaning, higher-ups actively engage their employees for input on situations that may arise. The diplomacy allows for everyone to have a voice. This type of management style encourages active participation among all employees and may dissipate some of the negative feelings some nurses feel towards their management team.

Lack of Upward Mobility. Many nurses unhappy with their chosen profession find that job mobility from the bedside is difficult without an additional degree. A nursing degree overqualifies many from other jobs outside of nursing and may not pay the equivalent of a nurse’s current salary. In order to get a job that pays as much or more than the average RN makes, additional years of school are typically required. This is a sacrifice that some may not be able to make, given that going back to school requires time away from work.

For those willing to go the extra mile and complete a higher degree in nursing, many career opportunities abound. Going back for an advanced nursing degree is the way some nurses find personal satisfaction in their career. Although not in a graduate program yet, Brittany Green, BSN, RN, a relatively new nurse of three years, plans on becoming a family nurse practitioner to influence patients in an outpatient setting and prevent some of the morbidity and mortality she sees in her current job as a cardiovascular recovery room nurse.

Green believes nurses leave because they experience burnout. “It’s not a career for everyone. It takes a special type of person to handle the emotional and physical stress that comes along with nursing,” she says. “I know I won’t be able to do bedside nursing forever; the long hours and stress will start to wear more on me.”

Underpayment. A nurse’s job can be physically and emotionally draining. Many nurses feel like they are severely underpaid for the work they do. Twelve-hour shifts can feel more like 16 when you are working the job of four people, but only getting paid for one. Nurses also sacrifice holidays, weekends, and family events because of their long and ever-changing schedule.

On the other hand, one may say a nurse’s schedule is ideal; a three-day work week schedule and having the ability to take long vacations using minimal vacation time sounds appealing to many.
But at what cost?

Nurses are notorious for picking up extra shifts on their day off because they feel like they are being paid not nearly enough for the work they do. Based on the most recent Minority Nurse annual survey results, the average RN salary in the United States is $67,980 per year. This may be considered a solid middle class income for most Americans, but nurses work very hard and feel as though it is not enough most days.

Too Many Tasks. Today’s nurse does it all; you name it, nurses do it. Administer meds? Check. Assist patients with dressing, bathing, and mobility? Check. Perform bedside procedures once done by physicians? Check. Coordinate care between all disciplines of the hospital? Check. The list is endless—and that’s the problem. Nurses are responsible for so many aspects of a patient’s care that it can become overwhelming for one person to manage during a shift.

A typical nurse works a 12-hour shift that translates into much more when the nurse is doing the job of multiple people day in and day out. Sometimes a nurse is so involved in completing everything it becomes difficult to take a much needed and deserved break during her shift. This makes for a very long day. Although the typical nurse’s schedule consists of three 12-hour shifts per week, when the days are packed with multiple tasks and responsibilities each and every day, burnout is inevitable. Studies conducted to rate nurse turnover clearly show that as a nurse’s workload increases, nurse burnout and job dissatisfaction—both precursors of voluntary turnover—also increase.

Nurses performing too many tasks typically boils down to staffing, specifically understaffing, which is also known as short staffing. When nursing units are short-staffed, nurses take on a majority of tasks done by others simply because they know how to do many other people’s jobs, but those people cannot do the job of the nurse. How many nurses have had to cover the front desk because there is not a unit secretary on duty? Or how about the nurse who is behind on her nursing duties just because she is trying to complete activities of daily living for a patient that is usually carried out by a nurse’s aide? Nurses wear the hat of many, but no one can take on the role of the nurse.

Short Staffing. A resounding number of nurses blame short staffing as the most common reason nurses leave the profession. According to a recent poll on Allnurses.com, more than one third of 1,500 nurses polled say that continuous short staffing drives nurses from the bedside and, ultimately, the profession. One of the reasons for short staffing is management cutting costs as much as possible—and what better way to do that than cut staff and work on less than is needed? Nurses are notoriously known to multitask, wearing many hats on a day-to-day basis. Management knows this and may not think it’s a problem to go without a unit secretary or nurse aide on the unit because nurses will pick up the slack. Unfortunately, this unequal distribution of work leads to many unhappy nurses who burn out quickly when doing the job of many people.

Employers can ease the burden on nurses by mandating nurse-patient ratios. Since 2004, California has mandated patient ratios of 1:5 for nurses working in hospital settings. Studies have shown the benefit of such staffing ratios. The Aiken study demonstrated that nurses with California-mandated ratios have less burnout and job dissatisfaction, and the nurses reported consistently better quality of care, leading to decreased turnover.

Decreasing patient-nurse ratios has more benefits than disadvantages that could benefit US hospital systems. The Aiken study followed nurses in three states: Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and California—with California being the only state with mandated nurse-to-patient ratios. Over 22,000 RNs were surveyed, and researchers found:

• RNs in California have more time to spend with patients, and more California hospitals have enough nurses to provide quality patient care;
• In California hospitals with better compliance with the ratios, RNs cite fewer complaints from patients and families;
• Fewer RNs in California miss changes in patient conditions because of their decreased workload than RNs in New Jersey or Pennsylvania;
• If California’s 1:5 ratios on surgical units were matched, New Jersey hospitals would have 14% fewer patient deaths and Pennsylvania hospitals would have 11% fewer deaths;
• Nurses in California are far more likely to stay at the bedside and less likely to report burnout than nurses in New Jersey or Pennsylvania.

Maybe other states should follow California’s lead and mandate nurse-patient staffing ratios. What will it take to get the message across to industry leaders and make a change in how staffing levels are managed across the United States?

To Stay or Go?
The nursing profession isn’t completely lost on Thompson. She still works occasionally at the bedside on an intermediate care unit simply because of the one-on-one interaction she has with her patients. Many nurses reflect that they love nursing and enjoy spending time with their patients—something that is becoming more and more difficult with everything nurses are expected to do in this day and age.

The decision to leave the bedside affects not only the nurse contemplating such a transition but also the facility and patients who may be taken care of in a facility that is short-staffed. Replacing a nurse is costly. The RN Work Project cites the average cost to replace an RN who leaves the bedside ranges from $10,098 to $88,000 per nurse. What’s more astonishing is total RN turnover costs range from approximately $5.9 million to $6.4 million per year at an acute care hospital with more than 600 beds.

There are nurses who love their career and wouldn’t ever think of leaving. Kim Hatter, MSN, RN, is one of them. Drawn to the profession because of her mother, she was inspired by her compassion at an early age: “[My mother] was actually one of the first African Americans to graduate from Southern Arkansas University as a registered nurse.”

When questioned whether or not she had plans on leaving the profession, Hatter says no. “I’ve never thought of leaving the nursing profession, but I have sought a higher level of education in nursing recently.” Like Green, Hatter is completing her goal of becoming a nurse practitioner. She recently graduated from an adult–gerontology program and will soon leave the bedside to work at an outpatient clinic.
Because the bedside can be brutal on the body, many nurses like Green and Hatter choose to pursue nursing higher education to move from the bedside instead of leaving the profession completely. “I’ve heard of a lot of nurses with back and knee injuries,” says Hatter. “Nursing is a physically taxing job and does take a toll on your body.”

What is the Answer?
Nurses face a variety of challenges in the workplace that makes their job difficult. Based on the most prevalent and distressing issues identified by nurses, what is the overall answer to keep nurses at the bedside and, ultimately, in the profession? The RN Work Project reported when RNs leave their job, most go to another health care job not necessarily in a hospital. This is great for the general community, but it leaves a gap in coverage in hospitals where most acutely ill patients go. Where does that leave patients who need care in a hospital setting?

Green doesn’t think there is any one solution to the problem. “Burnout will always be an issue in the nursing profession,” she explains. “I think one of the most important things is for nurses to feel appreciated—by employers, coworkers, physicians, and hopefully patients.”

Hatter has a different prospective on potential solutions to this monumental problem: “I think paying nurses a higher rate of pay is always an incentive to stay. I also think nurses should receive more recognition for the valuable role they play in society.” The common denominator between Hatter and Green is that they both believe the nursing profession deserves more credit than it currently receives—and maybe this is the first step in keeping nurses happy and in the profession for the long haul.

What Recruiters Want: How a BSN Can Help You Land a Job

What Recruiters Want: How a BSN Can Help You Land a Job

With the increasing demand for more highly educated nurses and many hiring requirements now mandating a BSN, the nursing job market is in the midst of a massive shift. 

The BSN figures prominently in the nursing field, especially since the Institute of Medicine’s report The Future of Nursing called for 80% of nurses to have a BSN by 2020. More nurses are attaining the degree, but many of them wonder just what advantages the BSN can bring.

According to recruiters, a BSN automatically raises both your professionalism and your marketability. Recruiters, who act as a link between job seekers and the organizations looking for staff, also say a BSN is only one piece of the professional package needed to land your first job out of school.

“More and more, a BSN is becoming the minimum requirement, as opposed to the preferred idealistic requirement,” says Amanda Bleakney, senior managing director of health services operations with The Execu|Search Group. In fact, many top-tier hospitals won’t hire a nurse without a BSN. “Nurses who aren’t getting a BSN are ruling themselves out of job opportunities,” she says.

Recruiters can help new grads find a job, but as a job seeker, you still have work to do. Recruiters want a BSN backed up by experience, but they also want to hear about any special skills you might have. They are trying to keep their clients happy and send them candidates they need, so the more precise and polished you are, the better the fit will be.

“Anything we can use as a selling point to the client helps,” says Bleakney. “When it comes to the candidate side, we always have a selling point.” So if you’re looking for a job in the Bronx and you speak Spanish, you might be more valuable than someone who has a little more experience, but isn’t bilingual.

However, no matter how great your experience is, it means nothing if you don’t present yourself well. A recruiter can open the door for you, so it’s just as important to show them your best, most professional self.

“A recruiter is a gatekeeper,” says Terry Bennett, president of the National Association for Health Care Recruitment. “Recruiters are helping to screen candidates the managers will then interview. Where graduates can present their best selves is by helping to qualify what they will bring to an organization.”

Your resume is your first introduction, so use it to tell your story. “Tailor your resume,” Bleakney advises. Anything you want to highlight, such as your bilingual skills, your experience with specific populations, or your electronic medical record training, should be at the top.

“Bad or poorly formatted resumes will rule nurses out of a job,” says Bleakney. Even if a nurse hires a pro to craft her flawless resume, Bleakney says it shows that she is someone who cares about presentation and likely has strong administrative skills, too.

Recruiters want candidates whose preparation and professionalism will shine a light back on the recruitment firm. “We want to send the highest quality, top candidate as we can because that candidate stands out for us,” says Bleakney. Very often, an initial phone screen will be followed up by an in-person meeting to go over all the candidate’s qualifications and background checks.

If you have anything that could be interpreted as even slightly negative, be upfront with your recruiter, suggests Bleakney. “It’s always best to disclose something,” she says, or it can cost you a job instantly.

“Reputation is everything,” says Brenda Fischer, PhD, RN, MBA, CPHQ, FACHE, senior director of clinical education programs with AMN Healthcare, a workforce solutions firm, so watch your social media posts and appearances carefully. “Employers can be very selective,” says Fischer, and they will look at a candidate’s online information.

Recruiters want people who represent them well, and they use your first meeting to assess how you will present yourself to a client. Although it’s not an actual job interview, it is your first step in getting a job. Don’t be late, dress professionally, and bring your resume and any other requested documents, recommends Bleakney. “Half of getting a job is showing up and being prepared,” she says. “If someone cancels continuously or is a no-call and no-show, I know if they do that to me, they will do that to my clients.”

When you advance to an interview your recruiter sets up, do your research. “Know about the organization,” advises Bennett. “For the unit, what types of patients are there?” Make sure the organization knows why you want to be on that unit, with that manager, with that organization, and why you are the best person for the job, she says.

What Does a BSN Do for a Nurse’s Career?

“Students should realize what they are getting from a BSN that is special,” says Hayley Mark, PhD, MPH, RN, an associate professor and the director of the baccalaureate program at Johns Hopkins School of Nursing. “The degree means they have the ability to think critically. They can evaluate evidence and apply it, and that skill is critical.”

Critical thinking means a nurse can assess the quality of care, says Mark. “It goes beyond the skills,” she says. “A BSN gives a system-wide perspective and helps nurses look beyond the one-on-one.” For instance, if there’s ever a medical error, a nurse can gather the reasons why it happened, can use that information to understand why it happened, and will then take that knowledge to implement changes to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

A BSN also opens doors for other prospects. “The future of nursing is with a BSN,” says Julia Taylor, a BSN grad who works at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center on an in-patient gastrointestinal surgical oncology unit. “You’re more of a well-rounded nurse and will have more opportunities down the road to pursue a master’s or doctoral degree.”

When you are interviewing, highlight not just your BSN but also the knowledge that comes with it. As with any education, a BSN gives you more in-depth nursing knowledge, but the specific training from a BSN also means you know how to look at the whole system and you have the skills to work in a leadership role across all systems, says Mark. “Generally, if a company is comparing a BSN nurse to a less educated nurse, they will hire [the one with] the BSN,” she says.

When a nurse looks at the industry systemically, issues such as cost effectiveness, patient centeredness, communication skills, awareness of the latest in patient safety, and familiarity with information technology are most pressing, says Fischer. That scope often mirrors an organization’s approach as well, so hiring nurses who think that way benefits the entire company.

How Does a BSN Translate to Real Work?

The BSN degree prepares students for the broad thinking required of future nurse leaders, but any hands-on experience a new grad has or can get makes recruiters take notice. Many organizations are looking for a couple years of experience, says Bleakney, but are willing to consider new grads who can demonstrate how their clinical—or even their volunteer work—prepared them best.

A practicum in a similar unit will increase your chances as you will gain similar skills, says Bennett. But even work outside of health care is helpful if you frame it right. Did you manage a restaurant? Then you have great customer service skills, says Bennett. Did you head up an Eagle Scout group? You also fine-tuned your leadership skills in the process.

As a minority nurse, you can also highlight your diversity skills. In most organizations, the ratio of cultural diversity with patients and providers is not representative of the population. If you are a minority nurse looking for a job, recruiters in certain locations want to see your resume because health care organizations are seeking a more diverse staff. “I would use that in crafting my resume and present it as a strength,” says Fischer.

Farzana Abed, a recent graduate of the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, chose a BSN program for the breadth of the studies, but her own background offers employers a valuable perspective. “A BSN offers a more comprehensive program with the social, cultural, and political aspects of nursing,” she says. Combining her education with her life experience as an immigrant from Bangladesh who knows the challenges of language barriers, financial difficulties, and even racism makes her very aware of the challenges some patients face.

If your cultural or racial background gives you a better understanding of what minority patients might need or how they approach health care, your life experience combined with your BSN is going to be a sought-after skill. If you understand various cultural traditions surrounding health choices or if you are bilingual, let recruiters know those skills up front.

What Can You Do?

“Get any work experience on the unit and do the job well,” advises Mark. A shadowing experience also helps you boost your knowledge and get yourself noticed, she says. Bleakney suggests seeking out professional organizations that mirror your ideal job, whether that brings you to the Case Management Society of America or with the Nurse Practitioner Association of New York State, so you can meet leaders and connect with others in the field.

Networking, although it can be difficult for some, is a vital step when you are looking for a job. Get in touch with people through your alumni network or call a nurse manager or a nurse recruiter and impress them. “Every opportunity for volunteerism or professional development helps,” says Fischer. “Build every relationship through your clinical experience or through your school. Use every experience to form good relationships.”

Fischer acknowledges the special barriers of nurses who are going back to get a BSN after several years on the job. Unless they have actively worked at keeping their industry networks vibrant, it’s going to be harder for them to get out there and make the connections. They likely have pressing family obligations or more job responsibility than a new grad and less time for networking. “Make your own network,” Fischer advises, saying a group of colleagues can give specific career advice and family and friends can help out.

Where Are the Jobs?

The need for BSN nurses is great and will continue to rise as tougher standards are adapted. “Your educational background is first and then your work experience,” says Bennett. But for new BSN nurses, flexibility with location or setting plays a big role in your job search.

Talk with recruiters in different areas of the country to find out about job prospects and consider relocating, even if it’s only for a short while. For instance, suburban and rural areas are traditionally less competitive job markets than the big cities like New York or San Francisco, says Mark, so you might land a position that matches your interests, even if it’s not your first location choice. “Once you come in with experience, it makes you a totally different candidate,” says Mark.

Be open to different options, but even if you consider a placement as a temporary stop on your way to something else, don’t treat the job as a place marker, advises Bennett. Recruiters and employers want a candidate who is committed to the job, so give it your all to gain the experience you need.

If your field is especially competitive, consider all the places where you can gain skills first. “As nurses, we have to be proactive and strategic,” says Fischer.

A long-term care facility, a school, or a substance abuse facility can offer enough experience to make you that much more marketable, says Bleakney. “This is not the time to be particular,” she says. “This is the time to get the experience on your resume. Nurses who get the experience and then apply for their dream jobs are ahead of all the others who don’t have the experience.” Even working at a smaller community hospital might just give you enough knowledge of certain cultures or neighborhoods to make the difference in your next interview.

How Do You Find a Recruiter?

Finding a recruiter is not hard. Ask around to find out who colleagues have worked with or who your school recommends. You can also call the human resources department of your dream organization and ask which recruiting firm they work with or even the contact information for the recruiter, says Bennett. “If you really want to work somewhere, call that recruiter and ask what the process is,” she says. Do they have rolling starts or is it a month of interviews? Do they welcome calls after you have applied or are calls a no-no? Are new grads considered?

By asking relevant and specific questions, you can help shape your own process to maximize the recruiter’s time and resources as well as your own.

When you meet a recruiter, use the time wisely and be organized and open-minded. Your different skills can help recruiters recognize other areas that would offer a good fit for your skills. Even roles you may not have ever entertained might turn out to be an excellent prospect, says Fischer. Health coaches, care coordinators, and clinical documentation specialists are just a few roles emerging for nurses, says Fischer.

“Flexibility is key in health care,  especially as a new graduate,” says Bleakney.

Julia Quinn-Szcesuil is a freelance writer based in Bolton, Massachusetts. 

Surviving Your First Nursing Mistake

Surviving Your First Nursing Mistake

If you’ve been a working nurse for more than one shift I guarantee you’ve made a mistake. Don’t worry, we’ve all been there.  Making mistakes is part of human nature and nurses take them to heart with good reason. Not all mistakes made are created equal, but we can learn from them all.

When a person decides to become a nurse they take on a tremendous amount of responsibility. The first job can cause anxiety and in turn, errors can be made. Sometimes they are made simply because you don’t know what you don’t know as a new graduate. Nurses are typically moving at fast paces and being bombarded by multiple demands and requests…this potentially sets one up for missteps in care.

If you make a mistake I’m here to tell you that you will survive. As a seasoned nurse, I want to tell you that even we make mistakes! I’ve made many mistakes over the course of my career and you know what? I’ve learned from them all. You may be upset, embarrassed or saddened that you did so, but those feelings will pass. In place of those feelings you will have learned a valuable lesson and I bet you will never make the same mistake twice.

The act of making a mistake as a nurse is a humbling experience.  When a mistake is made reflect on what happened to cause it and what can be done to prevent it in the future. Report the error to your management team (no matter how scary this seems!) so they can also do investigation on the cause. Management is not there to punish you like some may believe. They are concerned about patient safety just as much as you are.

Experienced nurses, can you remember the first mistake you make as a nurse? How did it happen and what did you learn for your future practice?

De-stressing in a Stressful Profession

De-stressing in a Stressful Profession

Being a nurse is hard. And stressful. Depending on where you work your daily stress level can escalate from 0 to 10 in a matter of seconds when a critical situation arises.  Even worse, the average nurse’s stress level can fluctuate greatly over the course of a shift frying ones’ nerves by the time it’s time to punch the clock and go home.

What’s the best way for a nurse to manage daily on-the-job stressors? By using stress relieving methods on a regular basis. There are many ways to ease tension when stressed.

Here are 8 ways to combat stress: 

  1. Take a deep breath. Deep breathing does more than giving the brain a boost of oxygen. Stopping to take a deep breath when times get rough has been shown to reduce cortisol levels, which in turn can lead to reduced stress and anxiety.
  2. Listen to music. Music has a soothing effect people and can prove beneficial when tension runs high.
  3. Exercise. Exercise releases endorphins, which instantly makes you feel better. Imagine punching out your stress on a punching bag or running your best mile. Trust me, after you’re done exercising you’ll feel much better.
  4. Cuddle with your pet. Dogs and cats are good cuddle buddies and can help you feel more at ease when times get tough.
  5. Hug somebody!  Have you ever hugged someone while you were feeling tense? If you’re like most people, you immediately feel a release during the act. That is stress leaving your body!
  6. Get a massage. Getting a massage from someone can relieve physical tension in your muscles. Another added benefit from a massage is human touch. Think of the human touch of a massage the same way you would of receiving a hug.
  7. Write. Writing when stressed can help release stress-related symptoms. Have you ever heard of someone writing a letter and then burning it to “let it go?” Writing allows you to say whatever it is you need to say about what is bothering you. You don’t have to burn it when you’re done because the act of writing is actually a release within itself.
  8. Go out with friends. Surrounding yourself with people you love and trust is good for your mental health. Aside from being able to speak to someone about what is bothering you, you could probably use a fun night out.

In addition to working as a RN, Nachole Johnson is a freelance copywriter and an author with her first book, You’re a Nurse and Want to Start Your Own Business? The Complete Guide, available on Amazon. Visit her ReNursing blog at www.renursing.com for more ideas on how to reinvent your career.

How to Make Your Cover Letter Stand Out

How to Make Your Cover Letter Stand Out

Many people believe their resume is the only part of an application that human resources focuses on. Although a properly crafted resume can make or break an applicant, the cover letter really makes you stand out.

Cover letters serve an important purpose for the job hunter. The cover letter shows the employer that you are the best candidate for the job. There are specific aspects you need to include in your cover letter to catch the eye of the hiring manager. 

Incorporate these tips in your next cover letter to grab the attention of your future employer!

Address the letter to the hiring manager.

Use some researching skills to find out the name of the hiring manager (or recruiter) for the position you are applying for. This will make your application stand out since you have actually gone through the trouble of obtaining this information. No one likes the generic, “To Whom It May Concern” salutation. 

Use the company name at least twice in the body of your letter.

Your opening statement should say something like “I am inquiring about the (insert job position here) at (company name). You can also mention the company name later in the letter when you explain why you would be the best candidate for the job.

Highlight your most pertinent experience related to the job you are applying for.

Customize each cover letter for each job you apply to. This may mean highlighting your ICU experience when applying to an outpatient infusion center or emphasizing your charge nurse experience for a management position. 

Show enthusiasm.

Employers love to hire people who show enthusiasm for a position. You can show enthusiasm by the tone of your cover letter. Don’t make the cover letter generic for every job you apply for. Show your interest by researching the company and mentioning something about them in your cover letter. This could be something like, “I know XYZ company values empowering individuals to improve their health, and I do too. In a past position I have served as a wellness nurse educating people on making positive changes in their life.” 

Close strong.

After you have convinced the hiring manager why you are the best candidate for the job you need a call to action to end the letter. Don’t be afraid to say you are looking forward to hearing from them about the position. You could use the line, “I am confident I can be a valuable asset to XYZ company, and I look forward to discussing my qualifications and experience with you in greater depth.”

In addition to working as a RN, Nachole Johnson is a freelance copywriter and an author with her first book, You’re a Nurse and Want to Start Your Own Business? The Complete Guide, available on Amazon. Visit her ReNursing blog at www.renursing.com for more ideas on how to reinvent your career.

Image credit:  iStockphoto