I stayed up all night so I could call one of our area hospitals to set up an interview. These wacky "morning" hours HR types keep, combined with a listless night of completely failing to get any of the games I downloaded to run on my computer (time for an upgrade or three, it seems) resulted in a sleepless night.

So, I have an interview on Thursday. The hospital is about fourty-five minutes away, which isn't all that bad considering I'm still considering the state mental hospital which is about thirty-five minutes away. Hopefully I can get second-shift, the long drive isn't as bad when I can start later in the day.

There are two hospitals within 15 minutes of me, but for various reasons I highly doubt I'll enter into practice there. The closest one, from what I've seen so far, has a highly toxic culture. I've had some pretty lousy experiences there with the recruiter (who everyone hates, wouldn't give me any feedback on my interview after saying she would, and turned me down for an internship after the clinical instructor of one of my exes [who I've never met] started talkin' shit on me) and one of the APRNs there. All of the interesting people I know who work there are jumping ship to either go to the outpatient clinic or the other nearby hospital. The other nearby hospital soaks up a lot of our school's new grads, but I hear they're full up till october.

Aside from all of that, both of those places prioritize hiring students who've interned with them before, and filled up on new grads before school was even done. I would have loved to work at the hospital I did my last semester of clinicals at, but that one is even tougher to get into, with it's swanky "nurse residency" program and magnet hospital status. 100+ applicants for 15 positions!

So, as is often the case, I'm searching far afield for positions. The hospital I'm interviewing at on Thursday is near the state university I failed out of twice (for computer science in engineering), it's also in an area notorious for heroin (although what area isn't these days), and also near where my brother moved to after he finished his masters in accounting. It's a pretty leisurely drive, with lots of trees, farms and residential zoning, about 50mph limit all the way. I know the route well, since it more or less traces the same route I took when I first left home for college around 9 years ago. Damn, that makes me feel old.

I have a couple of friends working at this hospital, one of them in the emergency department. I doubt I'll start off there, since most of the EDs around here have already picked their new grads, and they need to ensure a safe mix of skills. I'll be happy working on a med/surg unit somewhere.

I still wonder if that's the right thing to do. Everyone tells me there's no substitute for getting that year or two of med/surg right out of school (my last clinical instructor was particularly vehement about this), and I wouldn't dream of doing ED or VNA without that kind of background (or at least a lengthy orientation), but getting that foot in the door with the State seems too good to pass up.

The thing is, though, jumping right into psych right out of school would specialize me (and I want to generalize), and the longer I'm out of that med/surg environment the weaker my grasp on all of the skills I practiced in school will be. Hell, even the amount of time that's passed between my last clinical day and NOW is starting to worry me. The only question I ever have for interviewers is about their orientation. How long is it, how does it work, what does it entail, etc.

The state capital (where I did semesters 2 and 3 of clinicals) is really where some of the best orientations and opportunities are, from what I can tell, but that commute is just brutal. It's not much farther than the hospital I'm interviewing at on Thursday, but it's a much more hectic drive. It really wore me down while I was there, and with gasoline racing towards $5 a gallon, it's really an unreasonable proposition, even with the 37-39mpg I'm getting with the hybrid.

I just have to remind myself that this will only last a year or so. Once I build up my skills and have some good evaluations or performance reviews or whatever the hell nurses get, I'll be able to be a little more selective in where I want to work. In comparing myself to some of my classmates, too, I have to remember that a lot of them got where they did right out of school by virtue of their previous healthcare experience, and I have none to speak of (passing meds in a group home for MR/Autism clients doesn't count, it seems). I feel prepared and all, but not to the degree that, say, someone who's been an LPN in a nursing home or a tech in the ED for years and years is prepared.

I seem to be taking the long way 'round, in whatever I do, I suppose the advantage in this specifically is that I'll be bringing an interdisciplinary mindset to a system that badly needs it, hopefully I'll stay afloat long enough to put it to good use.

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