New Graduates: Ready to Lead Change and Advance the Nursing Profession

By Kennedy, Jesse | American Nurse, September/October 2013 | Go to article overview

New Graduates: Ready to Lead Change and Advance the Nursing Profession


Kennedy, Jesse, American Nurse


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Learning to become a proficient, professional RN continues long after graduation day. That's why the mission of the National Student Nurses' Association (NSNA) is to mentor students preparing for initial licensure as RNs, and to convey the standards, ethics and skills that RNs will need as responsible and accountable leaders and members of the profession. This aligns well with one of the recommendations of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) 2010 report Future of Nursing-Leading Change, Advancing Health: "Prepare and enable nurses to lead change to advance health'.' NSNA promotes leadership development through the NSNA Leadership University, shared governance and policy development opportunities, professional formation and socialization into the nursing profession, and advocacy for student nurses and nursing education.

To become leaders, students and new graduates must gain experience practicing nursing. Unfortunately, new graduates face a growing hurdle to gain employment in the profession that they have worked so hard to enter. The NSNA New Graduate Survey, which first began in 2008, is an annual collection of employment data for recent graduates. Survey results reveal that many new graduates are experiencing significant challenges in obtaining their first RN position. An oversupply of new graduates coupled with a lower demand for RNs without experience has left many new graduates disillusioned with the nursing profession.

In 2012, 34 percent of the new RNs surveyed were unable to find work within four months of graduation. The new graduates most adversely affected are those with associate degrees (ADN). Thirty-nine percent of ADN students remained unemployed four months after graduation. With school tuition rising and student loan debts to match, an inability to find work for four months or more can have a devastating impact on the lives of new graduates and their families.

Two recommendations from the IOM report in particular will improve the nursing career outlook after graduation: "Expand opportunities for nurses to lead and diffuse collaborative improvement efforts" and "Implement nurse residency programs" offer good suggestions for improving the job market and establishing new nurses in the field. RNs, with their expert knowledge of health care delivery, can speed the development of innovative approaches to community-based health care. …

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New Graduates: Ready to Lead Change and Advance the Nursing Profession
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