Getting a hospital position with no previous experience/certification

erskine

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Hey everyone,

Right now i'm in the midst of applying for a job in a hospital, hopefully something that could be construed as clinical experience, which is definitely the weakest part of my app. The problem is that i'm getting a damn hard time finding any position since I have no certifications or training. I was just wondering if anyone else has been in this situation and if they've had success.

Does anyone have any tips they can offer in securing entry-level hospital positions? What are some positions that would be easy for me to obtain? At the moment i'm considering lab assistant/phlebotomist, pharmacy technician, and nurse aide, which all have the basic requirement of a high school degree or GED, but not necessarily certification, so i have a small shot. EMT is out for me because as far as i can tell from hours of researching that the only training place here in Hawaii is at a community college, and you need some prereqs that i have not taken. Is there a certain way i should be marketing myself when i write my cover letters (ie should i approach the desired position in a much more decisive "i want a career in this field" rather than my usual, "testing the healthcare field" statements i've been using?

i guess i'm just a little down since this process is so frustrating. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
 
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tough economy? best bet is volunteer clinical in this environment.
 

metallica81788

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There should be some people on here that can give you better advice, but I have had horrible luck with what you are trying to do. I just could not get a hospital/clinical job without some kind of training. I could never do the training/certification because I had to work or was in class. I applied to tons of clinical jobs and was shot down by every single one. You have to know somebody, it seems - some people I know ended up with jobs as techs at an after hours clinic and that would have been great. Often, it's not who you are, it's who you know.

It's even tougher nowadays with the job market, my only advice is keep trying.
 

erskine

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tough economy? best bet is volunteer clinical in this environment.
yep, doing this too but it's only 5 hours a week. I know its not ideal but i also want to apply this cycle to at least my state school, and i think my chances would be better if i had more clinical experience.


There should be some people on here that can give you better advice, but I have had horrible luck with what you are trying to do. I just could not get a hospital/clinical job without some kind of training. I could never do the training/certification because I had to work or was in class. I applied to tons of clinical jobs and was shot down by every single one. You have to know somebody, it seems - some people I know ended up with jobs as techs at an after hours clinic and that would have been great. Often, it's not who you are, it's who you know.

It's even tougher nowadays with the job market, my only advice is keep trying.
lol, at least i know i'm not alone in getting turned down from all these positions. And i just started my new volunteering position so i really don't have any contacts yet. Bummers....
 
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a few hospital groups around the country operate a paid scribe position. The hours are volatile and can be a problem if you have to juggle classes & other ECs.
 

metallica81788

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lol, at least i know i'm not alone in getting turned down from all these positions. And i just started my new volunteering position so i really don't have any contacts yet. Bummers....
I do think I may have had better luck if I would have bugged some of the residents and visiting specialists in the ER more. They could have at least pointed me in the right direction.
 

erskine

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a few hospital groups around the country operate a paid scribe position. The hours are volatile and can be a problem if you have to juggle classes & other ECs.
lol, time is the one thing i have plenty of at the moment. Hmm...a scribe. Maybe i have a better shot at this since i have a pretty fast typing speed from playing telnet MUDs back in the day.

I do think I may have had better luck if I would have bugged some of the residents and visiting specialists in the ER more. They could have at least pointed me in the right direction.
heh, at the end of this job-hunting process, i'm betting that a bunch of human resource directors and physicians are going to be annoyed at me.
 

akinetopsia

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a few hospital groups around the country operate a paid scribe position. The hours are volatile and can be a problem if you have to juggle classes & other ECs.
One problem, at least around here for the ER scribe positions, is they want a minimum 1 year commitment and they will not even look at your job application if you're still in classes. I'm a post-bac and I was looking into the scribe option to bridge the time between applying and (hopefully) matriculating. They said to re-apply when my post-bac coursework was done.
 

Geekchick921

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Unit clerk/secretary.
 

mvenus929

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Lab aide/phlebotomist, unit clerk/secretary, scribe (they're actually called PALs at my hospital... Physician Assistant Liason), even something in like environmental services (the nice word for janitorial staff) would be good. Anything to get your foot in the door.

My best advice is to keep applying. It took me like three application cycles to even get in for an interview at my job as a phlebotomist, but I showed how flexible I was to work with and how dedicated I was once I got that interview. I was hired by the end of the week and started a week and a half after that. A lot of these positions have a high turnover... the full time people on my shift have all been there more than a year--I'm the 'youngest' of the group and I started last January--whereas a number of the PRN people have been fired, quit, etc. Now you have a hard time getting a full-time position on my shift, because we do internal postings and if there are internal candidates, it goes to one of them over someone from the outside. The second shift (1-9pm) is the hard one to fill around here, because those are difficult hours for people to work, so those are frequently the full- and part-time positions that make it out of internal postings. At any rate, because they have such a high turnover, getting your foot in the door is key... once you get one step in, you can move up, if you so desire.

Good luck!
 

RLefevre

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Another one that you might consider is being a nurses aid on psych. At least at my hospital, this is the only floor where being a nurses aid does not require having your CNA. It is also a great experience because almost 100% of the time I am at work it is direct patient contact. It is also nice because I do not have to do any of the 'dirty' work that CNA's normally have to do.

The only hard part is sometimes you have to know someone to get the job. At my hospital most of the nurse's aids are students, and they recommend a friend as their replacement when they leave. Of course the hospital usually takes the applicant with a recommendation instead of some random student that applies.

Plus, you get some really interesting stories working on psych. :)
 

rHinO1

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Lift team. . . only requirement is to be able to pick stuff up and get a CPR card.
 

illegallysmooth

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I made a post about this called "getting a clinical/hospital job." Try using the search function to find it.
 

erskine

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One problem, at least around here for the ER scribe positions, is they want a minimum 1 year commitment and they will not even look at your job application if you're still in classes. I'm a post-bac and I was looking into the scribe option to bridge the time between applying and (hopefully) matriculating. They said to re-apply when my post-bac coursework was done.
that's all good for me, it's just i'm having a tough time even finding scribe positions here. Heard they're being phased out or something, but it seems like a great job for me.

Unit clerk/secretary.
another position i didn't think about at first. Thanks!

Lab aide/phlebotomist, unit clerk/secretary, scribe (they're actually called PALs at my hospital... Physician Assistant Liason), even something in like environmental services (the nice word for janitorial staff) would be good. Anything to get your foot in the door.

My best advice is to keep applying. It took me like three application cycles to even get in for an interview at my job as a phlebotomist, but I showed how flexible I was to work with and how dedicated I was once I got that interview. I was hired by the end of the week and started a week and a half after that. A lot of these positions have a high turnover... the full time people on my shift have all been there more than a year--I'm the 'youngest' of the group and I started last January--whereas a number of the PRN people have been fired, quit, etc. Now you have a hard time getting a full-time position on my shift, because we do internal postings and if there are internal candidates, it goes to one of them over someone from the outside. The second shift (1-9pm) is the hard one to fill around here, because those are difficult hours for people to work, so those are frequently the full- and part-time positions that make it out of internal postings. At any rate, because they have such a high turnover, getting your foot in the door is key... once you get one step in, you can move up, if you so desire.

Good luck!
Thanks for the info! Why is there a high turnover for phlebotomists? I've heard that in several different threads around here- is the work exceedingly tedious or stressful?

Another one that you might consider is being a nurses aid on psych. At least at my hospital, this is the only floor where being a nurses aid does not require having your CNA. It is also a great experience because almost 100% of the time I am at work it is direct patient contact. It is also nice because I do not have to do any of the 'dirty' work that CNA's normally have to do.

The only hard part is sometimes you have to know someone to get the job. At my hospital most of the nurse's aids are students, and they recommend a friend as their replacement when they leave. Of course the hospital usually takes the applicant with a recommendation instead of some random student that applies.

Plus, you get some really interesting stories working on psych. :)
what tasks does being a psych nurse aide entail? I always associate nurse aides with the dirty stuff the CNAs and RNs don't want to do (clean up wastes most of the time).

Lift team. . . only requirement is to be able to pick stuff up and get a CPR card.
Hmm....i'll try check this out too- thanks!

I made a post about this called "getting a clinical/hospital job." Try using the search function to find it.
I think, though, the difference is that i really don't know anyone yet at my hospital, aside from the volunteer services coordinator and a few volunteers, so i can't even get my foot in the door, so to speak. Hopefully, though, if my job search results in nothing this month, that in a little while i'll be able to apply your info/suggestions. Thanks!
 

surftheiop

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You could be someone's research coordinator at an academic hospital, I know I few folks who have done this. You job is maybe 20% being their "secretary", 40% recruiting/accessing subjects for studies, 30% helping to prepare manuscripts for publication, 10% other. You will definitely get a lot of patient exposure and clinical research exposure
 

mvenus929

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Thanks for the info! Why is there a high turnover for phlebotomists? I've heard that in several different threads around here- is the work exceedingly tedious or stressful?
The actual work--drawing blood--is something that I love. Absolutely love. It's the fact that my supervisor hardly shows up to work, our 'lead' doesn't do her job, we get yelled at by nurses who don't know what they're doing, we have to get up at the crack of dawn (before, actually; my shift starts at 5), etc. In that sense, it's stressful.

A lot of people don't last long simply because they're not willing to put in the effort. Drawing blood isn't hard, and if you want to do the job well, you will. We teach people from scratch, and they do a good job. The people who don't feel like getting up in the morning, the people who never show up to work, those who don't make an effort to meet the minimum expectations (10 draws an hour, getting draws done on time, taking the breaks you earn, rather than breaks every hour, etc)... those are the people who don't last.

Phlebotomy is also often used as a stepping stone into something else... there are very few people who are 'career' phlebs. At my hospital now, we have 2 girls who only work weekends because they're doing clinicals for nursing school during the week. We have one girl who is going back to school either for radiology tech or respiratory tech. We have a girl who is teaching anatomy at the college and looking to go to grad school. There's me--I'm going to medical school come August. There's a girl going to school for Business and Health Administration (or something like that). Last year, we had two girls who were med tech interns, and are now working in the back as techs. Another is getting her bachelor's degree so that she can become a med tech. Most of our phlebs are in their early to mid-20s, and just needed a job... they have other goals in mind. So, they eventually quit and move on.
 
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So, speaking from experience, here is the inside scoop on getting a job in a hospital-

You MUST have training. And even then, it's very difficult to get the positions.

I have been an EMT Intermediate (in New Hampshire, it's the level right before Paramedic-- IVs, IV medications, running codes, intubation, etc) for several years now, in a full time basis. Since I am not a huge fan of the "field" experience *aka being in an ambulance/on the streets/lugging people up and down stairs who can't breathe* I have been dying for a job in a hospital setting.

Many ED's hire what are called "ED techs." This is a decent position, where you can, depending on the hospital, do any number of things (IVs, EKGs, etc). However, I have applied for 5 of these positions-- 2 interviews, NO bites (and it's of note that I interview relatively well). Point being... hospitals are like frat houses. And you often need an "in."

Example: I now work at my local hospital, in cardiology, doing technical skills and computer work-- i.e. performing EKGs, holter monitors, some rhythm interpretation, and lots of patient contact. I really enjoy it. But, although the required training was only your "CPR" cert, I beat out 3 other applicants who had even more experience than I did (nursing students and other EMT's/Medics). I believe this is ONLY because I have been a volunteer at the hospital, and many people there could speak highly of me.

To be a phlebotomist, you have to complete a class. In NH, the class is usually a couple of weeks. However, like anything else, hospitals want prior experience before stabbing people in real life. Becoming an LNA (nurses assistant) requires 6 months + of school, and costs upwards of $1500 (here). And, I'm sorry to say, will involve a lot of changing bedpans, etc. Finally, EMS is NOT a field you want to get into just for clinical experience. It is BRUTAL, and militaristic, and thankless. The training is at least 6 months for JUST your first level, then you must test in many ways, and continue to work, retest, and receive continuing education credits. EMS is a career/hobby-- NOT something you do to buff a resume. Please, believe me on this one.

Point being-- volunteer somewhere first! Get to know the staff WELL and find people (particularly people in HR) who would go to bat for you in an interview process!

Best of luck!
 

RLefevre

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what tasks does being a psych nurse aide entail? I always associate nurse aides with the dirty stuff the CNAs and RNs don't want to do (clean up wastes most of the time).
Spending time with the patients, checking on patients, type in doctors orders in the evening after the secretary leaves. You also have to do things like restrain patients if they get out of hand, and help with ECTs (shock therapy), so it's not for the faint of heart!
 

mvenus929

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This depends entirely on the hospital. As I've said before, my hospital has hired people practically off the street... some of them have turned out to be good, and others, not so much (I'm still trying to fathom why our supervisor hired someone who quit a job after working for three days). We've trained these people from scratch. If they're willing to put in the work to become good and catch up with everyone else with experience, it's not a bad deal. Most of the time, they're not willing to do that, though.
 

apumic

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OP, I definitely would suggest NOT saying you are "looking into healthcare" or similar. This makes it evident you're not sticking around and gives an impression of minimal (if any) commitment. It pretty much forces the interviewer to see you as a the "typical premed," which means you're pretty much just going to suck their unit dry and move on. People don't want that on their units for good reason so why would they hire someone who pretty much just tells them straight up "I am going to be a leech on your dept and suck you dry"?


what tasks does being a psych nurse aide entail? I always associate nurse aides with the dirty stuff the CNAs and RNs don't want to do (clean up wastes most of the time).
Mental health tech positions generally entail monitoring patients, milieu management, charting, individual and/or group therapy (often unlicensed if state law permits), psych assessment, monitoring vitals and medical needs, etc. the positions generally pay better than a CNA as many require at least some sort of background (i.e., a BA/BS or AA/AS). Definitely a clear distinction between a CNA (or nursing student at some hospitals where they utilize BSN/ASN students on their clinicals for these tasks) and an MHT. Some psych floors utilize both, in which case the CNA does the housekeeping and grunt work, while the MHT sits somewhere between the CNA and RN.

(BTW, typically CNAs ARE the nurse aids... on my floors I've seen the CNAs are the ones being used for cleaning up wastes, etc.)
 

Disinence2

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Even with some form of previous experience/certification you might have some problems.

I recommended looking into some of the small rural hospitals on the edge of town. Even if its a long drive, it's worth it to get some solid clinical experience.
 

mhockey14221

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Granted, I had some awesome connections, but I'd like to share my story.

I applied and did my round of interviews last year and came so close to acceptance but could not get one school to bite. So, doing the rational thing, I made a few appointments with the deans and head of admissions of the various med schools where I was waitlisted and they all said I was sorely lacking in clinical experience.

So basically, I found myself in late August without a job or med school admission. I got my application and resume into some good hands and landed a job as a Patient Care Assistant (PCA).

I hear many hospitals are migrating away from CNAs/Nurses Assistants and more towards PCAs because PCAs can do much much more than CNAs. Other than the "dirty" responsibilities of a CNA (which suck for a 22 year old college grad male to accept he has to do, such as bed baths, bed changes, incontinence care, heavy lifting), I also take vital signs, draw blood, take blood sugar readings, and can preform EKGs (however have never had to). Plus, PCA pay is better and the only certification needed is through your hospital's two week orientation program with HS/GED (in NY that is).

I think this is as close to the perfect job for a potential medical school applicant. I spend nearly every minute of my 12 hour shift with patients in a hospital (clinical) setting. I've helped MDs during codes. Since I spend so much time with patients, MDs often ask me questions about statuses of patients. I know how the nursing staff operates and how to interact with them (don't think you're above them!). I've helped young people come to terms with terminal cancer and watched as elderly people leave feeling 20 years younger. Plus, it's a very rewarding experience!
 
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