Choosing the right path after nursing school

December 12, 2014

Article by Global Pre-Meds
Hospital doctor shadowing & global health experience programs.

See current opportunities

One of our students posing with the nursing staff in Chiang Mai Once you graduate from nursing school, you have some decisions to make. One of the biggest decisions is what type of facility to seek employment. Depending on what part of the country you live in, you may just look for job openings and not care whether they are in a hospital or an alternative setting. But if you have the option, you may want to consider what type of environment you want to start your nursing career in. 


Acute care hospitals

When you think of working as a nurse, the first thing that probably comes to mind is working in an acute care hospital. In fact, most nurses work in acute care hospitals at some point in their career.

Working in acute care is a great place to start your nursing career. There are different departments, such as the surgical floor, pediatrics, emergency room and intensive care unit. Depending on the size of the hospital, there may be opportunities for additional training, which enable you to move into certain specialties of nursing. In addition, nurses who work in an acute care setting may have the opportunity to work with many types of patients and a wide variety of healthcare professionals.


Nursing homes

Nursing homes provide care for patients who have medical needs, but do not need to be in the hospital. Elderly patients and those who have disabling, chronic medical conditions may be residents of a nursing home. Additionally, some nursing homes are specially designated for patients with conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease. 

Although working in a nursing home may not be as exciting as working in a hospital, it can still be a good choice for new nurses. For example, registered nurses working in a nursing home often take on the role of charge nurse, supervising practical nurses and nursing assistants. Moving into a supervisory role may be great experience for a new nurse.

In addition, caring for patients in a nursing home is often slower paced than in a hospital. The slower pace allows new nurses the chance to develop their skills and gain experience without feeling overwhelmed.


Sub-acute facilities

New nurses may not be familiar with sub-acute facilities. Some patients may not require care in an acute care hospital, but they are still not ready to be discharged home. Sub-acute facilities provide care and rehabilitation as a patient continues to recover from an injury or disease. For instance, a patient in a sub-acute facility may still require breathing assistance from a ventilator or have a feeding tube.

You will not see the same variety of patients you would in an acute care hospital, but there can be benefits to working in this type of facility. Nurses in sub-acute facilities have the chance to gain expertise in caring for similar types of patients and performing specific procedures.

Regardless of which type of healthcare setting you choose, there are pros and cons to each. But whichever you choose, you will gain valuable experience. As you grow in your profession, you can decide what type of setting fits you best.