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Job application advice from a graduating nursing student

July 10, 2017 by Hana Woolerson

Job application advice from a graduating nursing student

David Mann, who has just finished his last semester of Master of Nursing Practice at Curtin University, shares the process he went through to apply for the Fiona Stanley Graduate Program and, ultimately, earning his first preference in the Surgical/ICU stream.  

What factors influenced you to apply for the specific graduate program you are in or select the hospital as a preference?

At the beginning of the year, I had no inclination toward any hospital to preference first in my GradConnect application. If I went by location, I’d have preferenced Ramsay and applied at Joondalup, and if I went by word of mouth, I’d have preferenced Royal Perth.

At the ACN Nursing Expo, I spoke to and met with each hospital, speaking on what they offered new grads and the types of wards I’d be working on if I were to secure a spot. I loved that you could enter into a ‘stream’ with the Fiona Stanley Hospital (FSH)-Fremantle group, and decided I’d research further (having done no prac at either).

I emailed the Nursing and Midwifery Educators following the expo and requested a tour of the hospital. Both tours only took an hour but, within that time-frame, I was in awe of the facilities offered at FSH. Having completed and enjoying a surgical placement at The Mount hospital, I decided I’d preference the Surgical/ICU stream offered in the FSH program.

What steps did you take to prepare to apply for a graduate program? Did you access any specific services of gain feedback from any key people?

I used nearly all services available to me; non-specifically I attended the lectures provided at the ACN Nursing Expo giving tips and advice, as well as the CANPAMS Graduate info forum where past students who were successful in obtaining a graduate position the prior year told their story.

For my selection criteria, I engaged with Curtin Careers, Employment & Leadership (CCEL) on multiple occasions requesting feedback. I spoke with educators and volunteering nurses of each hospital at the ACN Nursing Expo and asked what their thoughts were on writing high quality selection criteria.  I asked multiple friends and family to proof read my criteria once it was completed in order to check for grammar errors. None of my family members have a science background, making their input useful from a different perspective. I even emailed my selection criteria to the Nursing and Midwifery Educator at Fremantle Hospital, who provided fantastic feedback.

For my interview, I attended the interview skills workshops provided by CCEL and practised interview questions with friends. I also developed my resume with assistance from CCEL in order to be provided in a professional portfolio for me to take into the interview.

What did you learn from the application and selection criteria process? What advice would you give other students to maximise their chances of gaining their first preference? Did you speak to the Grad Program Coordinator/other staff at the hospitals of your first preference?

Yes, I organised a tour with the Nursing and Midwifery Educator and I also met him at the ACN Nursing Expo. We had already developed a rapport, and guess who interviewed me? Before we had even shaken hands he already knew who I was and knew that I was showing great interest. I suppose that is one of my greatest pieces of advice: be proactive and learn as much as you can about your hospital through networking.

This involves a significant amount of organisation; if you get onto your selection criteria early, they won’t feel overwhelming. Follow any advice and guides provided to stay on top of things. This application process is not like an assignment where you can scramble it together one or two nights before. I must have spent upwards of 24 hours writing, re-writing, and asking for feedback on any piece of my application. And sometimes feedback can take multiple days for someone to get back to you. Many students won’t put in the same degree of effort, but I feel like it personally contributed to my attainment of my first preferenced stream in the graduate program.

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