What’s Top of Mind for Nursing Students?

The anticipation of beginning a new career in nursing can be a time of great excitement for new nurses. But this time may also come with stress over landing the perfect career. With limited opportunities while in school, new nurses may be unsure of exactly what they’re looking for. Here are a few things that are top of mind for nursing students. 

Throughout nursing school, students will learn not only how to care for patients, but also about the working conditions where they’ve had their clinical experience. Some of the things they are looking for are outlined here.

Flexible Scheduling

The schedule of a nurse may be one of the most alluring parts of the career. With many hospital nurses working 12-hour shifts, this can allow for more days off than a traditional weekday 9-5 schedule. However, office-based, or non-hospital nursing may not afford as many weekdays off. Nursing students are often looking for opportunities to be flexible in finding the work-life balance that works best for them.

Support From Administration and Coworkers

Unfortunately, some nurses new to their careers find little support once they’re out on their own. This can manifest itself in a lack of support from coworkers and their administration as well. Understandably, administrators have expectations of where new nurses should be with their skills and comfort levels, but without proper organizational support, new nurses can feel more overwhelmed than necessary.

Being a new nurse can be scary — there’s a great deal of responsibility and so many things to learn that a nursing student wants to know that they will be taking a job that offers plenty of developmental support, such as adequate time for orientation. They will likely want to know the orientation plans and how long they will be on orientation before being on their own.

Additionally, they want to know that if they have concerns or questions down the line, they have the support to seek out help. Nursing students will be looking to work for a healthcare system that wants to ensure they’re successful in their new role.

Competitive Pay

Compensation is one of the most important things nursing students will be looking for as they leave school and enter the workforce. With the staff shortages left by the pandemic, new nurses have the advantage of filling this gap, and that ability comes with the possibility of earning a decent wage.

In addition to hourly wage or salary, other perks such as sign-on bonuses, retention bonuses, and possibly even student loan forgiveness are things new nurses are looking for. New nurses are aware of how much healthcare systems have been paying for travel nurses since the start of the pandemic. Showing new nurses that they are worth the investment can be beneficial to both the new nurse and the healthcare system.

Safe Working Conditions

So many things go into safe working conditions, and one of the most important is safe staffing ratios, which is top of mind for nursing students. New nurses may inquire about nurse-to-patient ratios. Especially considering recent court cases involving nursing mistakes, this may be of even more importance than it has been previously.

Safe staffing doesn’t apply only to nurses — adequate staffing of everyone involved in the care of patients is critical to having a safe working environment. Staff shortages in pharmacy, nutrition, or physical therapy, for example, can be detrimental as the new nurse now has to take on additional roles to compensate for the lack of these services.

New nurses also want to work in an environment where they feel safe to report less than ideal working conditions or concerns without fear of being reprimanded for speaking up.

Career Advancement

While new nurses will primarily focus on gaining confidence in their first role, it’s helpful to know if an organization will help them achieve the next phase in their journey. Career advancement opportunities can be an important factor in deciding where to work. If a healthcare system has programs such as a clinical ladder, continuing education opportunities, or training in a specialty area, new nurses may find this very valuable.

It is unrealistic to expect that every new nurse will stay in their same role forever, and new nurses want to know they have opportunities to develop their skills and grow in the healthcare system in which they are employed.

What’s Top of Mind for Nurses

Though not fully inclusive of everything a nursing student is looking for, the factors above can be helpful for recruiters to keep in mind as they are speaking with nursing students. Nursing students likely got into the field because this was something they felt called to do and had a desire to care for others. That desire shouldn’t be taken advantage of. Nurses know their worth and want that to be recognized by their employer.

Leaders and recruiters who understand what motivates nurses to stay will have an advantage in recruiting them, increasing job satisfaction, and growing nurse leaders.

The 2022 Nurse Salary Research Report: Trends and Insights for Leaders and Recruiters contains insights from over 2,500 RNs, APRNs, and LPNs/LVNs from regions across the U.S. with data related to repercussions from the pandemic and trends related to nurses’ views of their jobs and satisfaction in their roles. In addition to nurse salaries, the report provides insights on nurses’ plans to change roles or settings, ideal benefits, and differences among demographics.

By understanding what trends are occurring in nurses’ opinions of their roles and their salaries, you can develop strategies that help them feel supported, appreciated, and engaged.

Download the report here.