I Graduated from a Nursing School: What's Next?

graduation caps on top of stack of books
Written by
Jacky Habib
Reviewed by
Miranda Kay, RN
April 25, 2023

Nursing is a rewarding and challenging field that requires high commitment and dedication. After years of rigorous coursework, hands-on clinical experience, and countless hours of studying, nursing students finally graduate and are ready to enter the workforce as registered nurses (RNs). However, many new nurses may feel uncertain about what happens after graduation. 

They may wonder what RN jobs are available and how they can continue to grow and develop as professionals. In this blog post, we will explore what happens after a nursing student graduates, share the history of nurse pinning ceremonies, provide top resume and interview tips for nurses, and share what you need to know about continuing education. 

What Is a Nurse Pinning Ceremony?

Graduate smile

Becoming a nurse takes a lot of hard work and dedication, as the profession requires students to acquire cutting-edge knowledge and practical skills. Earning a nursing degree is a significant achievement, and most nursing colleges and university faculties mark the end of this journey and the start of a new one with a pinning ceremony as part of the nurse graduation event.  

A pinning ceremony is a symbolic event to welcome newly graduated nurses into the field. Nursing pins are metallic badges with either a symbol of the nursing specialty or the seal/logo of the education facility. They date back to the Crusades in the twelfth century when nurses were given a Maltese Cross—the first nursing badge—to be easily identified as nurses caring for injured or ill Crusaders. 

Later, Queen Victoria awarded Florence Nightingale the Royal Red Cross in honor of her service as a military nurse in the Crimean War in 1883. This is said to be the primary influence for modern nurse pinning ceremonies.

Thus, a nursing pinning ceremony is a unique celebration (held as part of the nurse graduation) of completing a nursing education qualification, separate from receiving a diploma/graduating, marking a student's transition into the nursing profession. 

Some ceremonies have family members pin the new graduates, while others have faculty members do it. In most ceremonies, the new nurses also recite the Nightingale Pledge. Check out nurse Sarah's recount here for a first-hand experience of a nurse pinning ceremony.  

Job Opportunities for Nursing Graduates

The nursing field has expanded into over 100 different specializations and concentrations, offering new graduates many opportunities, such as dialysis nursing, emergency room nursing, flight nursing, geriatric nursing, labor and delivery nursing, neonatal nursing, radiology nursing, psychiatric unit nursing, hospice nursing, and many more.

New nursing grads can seek opportunities on various career-related websites, including Nursa, which provides listings of high-paying per diem nursing jobs. You can also consider reaching out to a nursing mentor or leader to speak with them about opportunities you're interested in exploring. 

Interview and Resume Tips for Nursing Grads

Here are some resume tips that will get you noticed as a nurse graduate:

  • Pay attention to the specific requirements and application keywords.
  • Hospitals often use the Applicant Tracking System (ATS) to automate the early stages of recruitment. It is important to ensure your resume and application are ATS friendly, meaning specifically curated to match the application keywords such as BSN, RN, NCLEX-RN, etc.
  • Ensure your application highlights your qualifications, credentials, licenses, and completed hospital clinical rotations in hours.
  • You can find some nursing resume samples here for inspiration.

In addition, here are some interview tips to help you stand out amongst the crowd and land job opportunities for nursing graduates: 

  • Dress in professional business attire to leave an excellent first impression.  
  • Prepare yourself mentally: Show your adaptability and capacity to problem solve, which is particularly important as you're likely still building up your skillset.
  • Research the hospital or medical facility, and be sure to demonstrate your knowledge of it during the interview.
  • Practice responding to common interview questions

For more interview tips, check out Nursa's interview guide for nurses, which will support you as you seek opportunities for nursing graduates. 

Continuing Education for Nursing Graduates

Nurse folding arms

The nursing field is constantly developing, and participating in continuing education courses benefits nurses, patients, and the general population. Continuing nursing education is encouraged to help nurses stay current on medical trends, clinical skills and techniques, and treatment regimens. 

In most states, nurses are required to complete specific continuing education units or take courses to renew nursing credentials every two to five years. The American Nursing Association provides excellent resources on continuing education for nurses.

Final Thoughts | What Happens After You Graduate Nursing School?

Graduating from nursing school is an exciting time—but it can also be understandably nerve-wracking as you navigate what is next in your professional journey. Whether it’s choosing your nursing speciality or navigating continuing education in healthcare, Nursa has got your back.

Our website is a go-to resource to help you navigate this period and answer your top questions. Check out Nursa’s FAQ by new nursing graduates and our community to meet other nursing graduates and nursing professionals.

Jacky Habib
Blog published on:
April 25, 2023

Meet Jacky, a contributing copywriter at Nursa who specializes in writing about nursing specialties, FAQs, and career advice.

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