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Ways to make one more employable


Regular Member
Hello nursing world of MSO...

I've been having a look around lately online as to things I can do now to increase my chances of landing the "better/bigger" jobs after I graduate.

Just a few questions:

What to employers look for on CV's?

Would including nursing placements and skills learned on them be something to include on a CV? would placements as certain places be regarded more highly than others?

Will my GPA mean anything once I graduate? (should I work really hard to get high marks or would it not mean anything more than a pass in terms of employment)?

Will certificates increase my chances of employment? (TAFE- i've found a few in pathology/health administration/mental health and drug and alcohol) i'm thinking of doing some whilst I am at uni.

If I want to work my way up to CNS/CNC is there anything I can do now to better set myself up for such things?

If you can help me out with any inside knowledge on this stuff i'd really appreciate it! the internet doesn't seem overly helpful and all the info seems to conflict....

Not sure if [MENTION=2418]scarah[/MENTION] is still around? she seemed really helpful on the nursing front!

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Daisy 6

Regular Member
[MENTION=5227]elixir[/MENTION], seems to me from other posts of yours that you have great interpersonal skills and clearly you smashed your UNSW med interview (I found that post/blog about your experiences great for my UNSW prep!). I haven't had job interviews in the health field before but plenty of interviews in other fields (I'm a non-standard med entrant). I think the important thing about getting good jobs is 1) put yourself out there and apply for them and 2) be just your natural friendly, optimistic and interested self when you're sitting there in front of a panel. When you all have the same qualifications on your CV, it's your ability to make friends with your interviewers (and come across as reasonably intelligent!) that will separate you from the pack.

As for the value in extra placements, certificates...I'll have to leave that for others to answer :)
Hi there. It was quite a while ago since I graduated and applied for my first job, and when I did our grad years were determined by a computer match system where we list preferences and go to an interview, not unlike VTAC etc.

I was successful in my first preference hospital even though there were only 2 positions and many applicants. Why, I'd say A LOT comes down to the reputation you start to build during placements - be reliable, hardworking and interested and this will show. The interviewers went through my transcript and placement assessment so it helps to be a good student even if not the best. I was lucky enough to be in good academic stance and they may have noticed but mainly it helps me today as I look for options into medicine, so yes a good GPA can help but it's not the deciding factor as far as jobs go. And once you start work no one cares about you past GAP.

I was also one at uni to get involved with extra curricular events so that looked good on the resume, ie sports events, open days, student rep.

But I'll say it again, your presentation during placements will be a key. Choose your final year electives within the hospital you want to work at and build a rep for being on time, easy to teach, good team member etc. You'll be surprised how far news travels if you are a unreliable know it all student with a disinterest in learning... Show interest in every placement.

As far as other certificates go... there isn't really a need, but if you want to do something then it can't hurt, just dont let it take you away from your undergrad work. But as far as education goes it is post grad education that will open doors as a CNS (and clinical skill) etc. So plan to keep doing education, dont see the undergrad as it... see it as a step.

Otherwise enjoy uni! Literally, enjoy it, have fun, dont focus only on the academic stuff!!

I also worked part-time as a care assistant in an aged care facility so that helped build practical skills, I think this is great to consolidate skills as you go and practice note writing in a hurry!

Anything else? Just ask.

Oh and if you do fail etc and don't get your dream job, just keep working hard, I have a friend who failed a few subjects and found she didn't end up where she wanted to be, but with hard work she is now in charge of the ward she works, so undergrad is not the be all and end all.

Good luck


Regular Member
@finallyready - Thankyou SO much for this :) so helpful! when I posted this thread I highly doubted anyone would have any answers at all for me!

I'm really lucky in terms of the course. I've been through the outcomes of all the science stuff and i've covered almost everything already in one year of medical science and two years of med! (albeit with some missed time due to circumstances beyond my control) and a heavy english background in school.

I am actually going to be working as an AIN a the base hospital here this year (hopefully on children's ward) - do you think that would put me in better stead for doing paeds later on?

As for extra curricular activities i'm also in a great position (I think). Done heaps of sports (mostly social), volunteer work for 10+ different charities and more than anything so much time in music (1s violin- world youth orchestra in 2008). I am an Australian Leader for the starlight foundation and i'm hoping it will play to my advantage later on as well. Would I include the medical work experience I did in a few places before I got into medicine? (At Sydney Children's and through the UNSW Rural Clinical school)

One thing I found even on my scholarship application is that I don't really know what to include on a CV and what not to. Do you have any advice here? (I am worried about it being too long)

I'm glad you told me certificates don't mean much because I was about to sign up for one! I do have another question though- If I do a shorter venipuncture course or a cert 3 in pathology would that help me for now? would give me more skills....Then I thought maybe some kind of management/health administration course could look good?

I don't know much at all about post-grad with nursing (only about med!) is it the path with masters etc?

Will have to get better with fast note writing (typing has totally taken over!) ;)

I have no idea about electives either or which hospitals are better to do them in. Do your marks determine if you get the electives you want? for example I know my friend in nursing said only 2 people in her course will get to do an ICU placement. I know people that go pretty far away but I have no idea how they organise accom. etc for such a short amount of time! I would love to do an overseas placement but i'm not sure if you can- i'll have to ask the faculty that one.

I'm always a pretty keen learner (maybe too much so) and I find the idea of stopping study ever hard to comprehend. Likewise- if I wish to do postgrad will my undergrad marks play a role in determining my entry to these courses?

Do you mind me asking where you did your course?

Thankyou ever so much!

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Hey Lixx... I heartily second all that @finallyready mentioned.

In regards to certificates, I wouldn't let it distract you from current nursing studies. Get your nursing degree, get registered, do your grad year (first year out program, extra support, rotate through wards, education etc.... most hospitals won't take a fresh grad if not within a grad program). Get a job after grad year and then think about certificates and further study. You will probably find that if you're working in specialty ward after finishing grad year, they'll help fund you / put you through those kind of certificates anyway.. or have their own education centre doing their own version of them? {thats how it works where I worked anyway... when I was in cathlab.. I did cathlab certificates and courses and skills and had to meet certain hurdles/ demonstrate competency .. now I'm in CCU.. doing CCU ones.. etc)

In regards to venipuncture.. same thing.. if the area you end up working in requires it.. You'll learn it there / they'll send you off to the course at their expense because they deem it necessary for their staff. But not every area does, so I personally wouldn't be going out to do it right now, because you might not be able to get enough practice stay current and then the ward will make you repeat the course anyway. (Also.. in the hospital I work at.. we have a pathology service and no nurses except in ED are actually ALLOWED to cannulate / venipuncture even if they can/ have done it at hospitals they previously worked at)

They might be a nice line filler on your CV, or a good talking point at interview but I really don't think its necessary. You'll learn what you need to know to be a grad nurse in your nursing degree! Then nursing is a "life long learning" thing. APRHA audits your professional development and the area you work in / hospital educators (least the ones I've known) are all SUPER on top of getting your hours up and getting you to PD courses and in workshops and weekly inservices and the likes. Don't you worry about learning more right now. You really should relax now, study hard.. but relax!! get your basic nursing skills down pat and time management skills up to scratch. I know you've said you've covered it with your med science and your med courses.. but nursing is ALL about the placement.. and the clinical skills… my course was 2 days in wards every week from week 5 of first year. and 1day of lectures, 1 day of clinical skills. and some are ridiculous! and some you just need to get in and practice and then go and do them on the wards as often as you can!

The rest of the further education/specialty will come.. and most likely at little effort / expense to yourself (that sounds terribly entitled and privileged but trust me.. thats how its works from my experience)

Incidentally I also wouldn't be rushing to put a big list of your medicine studies on a nursing CV applying for a nursing position either... I just don't think its appropriate / applicable for NURSING.... maybe if you need a way of getting "can deal with children/ old people/ rural" across then okay? but you'll be working as AIN so that'd cover it I'd think? Just my opinion!
(My life pre nursing was in financial economics & business management (random change and now trying for med..? crazy I know!) so I did put that on my CV because of ~ aspirations for management I suppose .. and to explain what i'd been doing since high school.. but i wasn't specific about it, just one line) Once again, if I were you, I wouldn't be going out of my way to do a management course. Maybe later on, 5-10 years down the track when you're a team leader andare a CNS and looking to become acting NUM or educator or something with view of becoming a NUM.
Sure you can list the work experience so long as its not too outdated?

I definitely WOULD put on your nursing placements on a CV - I used reverse chronological order. Most recent on top. and listed specific skills and experiences on that placement and even the NUM / preceptor contact details (if you got their permission)

In regards to electives.. my course (UQ) only had two. Final year is full time prac for both semesters, you kiiind of got to pick what area and which hospital, using a preference list system. I want & got a rural placement because there were lots of rural/ remote hospitals available and hardly anyone wanted to go out fural, where as many people who wanted ICU (and there were lots of them!) ended up with their second third or fourth preference because there just aren't that many spaces for nursing students to work in ICU. It REALLY depends on your uni and the partnerships they have with different hospitals.

When I went rural for my elective the hospital offered accommodation in nurses quarters free of charge. It was great fun! lived with a bunch of physio, dietetics and med students (it was where I initially started to contemplate trying to get into med!)- we used to study together and cook/eat/watch greys anatomy together.. ahh good times! and I know medstudents at Newcastle on placement in a random spot, the uni organised accommodation for them.

Taking it back to the main topic of this thread.... getting employed is not 100% about being employable. Sad but true... It's more about who you know.
Definitely try to get final placement in the hospital and if possible, the area you want to work in. Making contacts making an impression and being fresh in their minds at interview/ hiring time.. is almost the ONLY way to get a job after graduation (in Qld only 10% of 2012 grads got jobs / grad programs to start in 2013.. sorry if that's not something you want to hear)

you NEED to make good impression on your preceptors / buddy nurses .. show interest and take initiative and ASK LOTS OF QUESTIONS!!!!… and definitely try to make best friends with the NUM of the ward you want to work after graduation. and if you find your dream ward but its not final placement, and you made friends with a NUM.. keep in contact with them! go out of your way to go back and see them some times.. so they keep you in mind come grad selection and interview time (or tell their NUM counterparts who do the interviewing and assessing at interviewing!)

Sstudents I preceptored and took a liking to .. I'd "train in the ways of getting a grad program".. and ALL OF THEM GOT JOBS! thus far anyway... so.. it works?

I am not kidding. That's how I got my grad program and was offered to stay on after my grad program year finished (this year.. just as new grads didn't get offered grad programs and/or jobs... people in last years cohort who have just finished their grad program were not offered full time positions on completion. There have been MASSIVE cuts in funding/ not the same drop out of senior conterparts in the workforce due to economic downturn affecting superannuation and need to stay working to make up for losses.. and theres just a massive influx of graduates due to their being lots of funding for nursing courses at unis because of the "shortage of nurses".. but NO jobs for them? its totally unbalanced!)

okay.. I think that's all I can add right now. I should have posted this on your forum. Sorry!
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