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Archive December 2017 XVIII, No. 12

Staffing: Should You Hire New Grads or Veteran RNs?

Pros and cons of hiring nurses with varying degrees of experience.

Mary Wilson

Mary Wilson, BSN, RN, CNOR


If you're like most facility leaders, you're looking for a nurse with at least 1 or 2 years of OR experience when hiring a new RN. Sure, there are benefits to going that route, but have you considered hiring a new college grad or a long-time RN who earned her stripes, say, in the ICU?

new nurses RARING TO GO New nurses have to learn the ropes, but are eager to learn and pitch in to help wherever they're needed.

Recent nursing grads
Advantages. Nurses fresh out of school are still in the learning phase of their careers, so they're used to being taught new things as you mold them into the type of staff member you want and need for your facility. School nursing programs rarely include curriculum about OR nursing. That means new recruits are clean slates who will have plenty of learning to do, but that can work to your advantage. They're like sponges: eager to soak in all the lessons you're willing to impart.

Challenges. New nurses obviously haven't yet applied their degrees in real-world practice, so there will be some growing pains as they learn basic nursing concepts, familiarize themselves with your processes and procedures and understand how to prioritize their responsibilities — before you add in lessons on the specifics of OR nursing, including how to use numerous surgical instruments and platforms.

They likely haven't had any professional experience, and nursing is a difficult profession to enter as the first job of your career. New nurses therefore have to be taught the importance of being on time and prepared to work hard on a daily basis. They must also understand that the staffing schedule is made to meet the needs of your facility and patients, and not to accommodate their personal lives.

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