As a new graduate nurse in the state of California, the only way to employment is through a New Graduate RN Residency Program. These paid programs are wonderful, especially since they customize their training to the hospital’s policies and procedures. They mold their new graduate nurses into the RNs they need. The programs begin as class based then transition to nursing on the floor with a preceptor. Usually after six months, you are an independent working RN on the floor with a pay bump.

These programs are incredible but they only open up certain times and for limited spots. Most offer a spring cohort and a winter cohort. If one of the cohorts is impacted, they may cancel the second cohort. You apply around six months before the programs begin. In order to apply, you must be in your last semester of nursing school or completed with school. Additionally, some require an NCLEX date or license. What makes these programs tricky is timing. For most, there is a huge chunk of time between graduating and beginning one of these programs or even being eligible to apply. As former nursing students, this is difficult. We are used to being constantly busy, always planning and thinking ten steps ahead. This gap can make one feel stuck. We are forced to wait. We are forced to slow things down and take a step back. As someone who has gone through this terrible feeling, I will offer my advice.

All we have known for the past three years is school. Nursing school was a part of us. It was who we were. We identified as nursing students. Ending our programs can feel like losing part of your identity. This isn’t the case. We were given this break for a reason. We have the knowledge base we need to be nurses, so now our focus should be on life experiences. This break is a chance for us to LIVE! We need to LIVE in order for us to take care of our patients who may not be given that chance. Reignite your lust for life and adventure, something that we had to dim for school. This will strengthen us as nurses. We have the knowledge but we can always use more life experiences. Take this time to travel, try new recipes, and exercise…finally! Everything happens for a reason, now you have the time to find out what your reason is.