The health-care industry has been an employment bright spot in Sacramento and across the country as demand grows to care for a graying population.
But newly minted nursing graduates are having trouble squaring that good news with their difficulties in finding work, said Anne McNamara.
McNamara, dean of Grand Canyon University's College of Nursing in Phoenix, and a registered nurse, was a keynote speaker at the California Nurse Leaders conference in Sacramento in September and talked recently with Job Front.
The answer, McNamara said, could be more classroom time.
Nursing graduates coming out of an associate's degree program are struggling in the job market, she said.
"The difference is employers are are seeking nurses with a B.A.," she said.
That means a bigger investment of time and money, but it is also a chance for nursing students to think more strategically about the health care market and their place in it.
The nursing students working their way through college may have no health care- related job while at school, McNamara said, but, by their senior year, they should be connected to a health care system.
"They should be very assertive. Look at the movement toward long-term care and assisted living," McNamara said. "I tell graduates, 'Your first job may not be saving lives in the emergency room.' "
It may be working in schools with their focus on combating childhood obesity.
"There's a huge role for nurses in schools. They see the importance of keeping children well," McNamara said. "I'm very optimistic."
McNamara said job-seeking nurses should not overlook volunteer opportunities.
Employers "are looking at where you volunteer. They're looking for a well-rounded person. It speaks volumes to an employer."
McNamara said there are other reasons to be optimistic. Baby boomer nurses who postponed retirement during the downturn are likely to reconsider in an improving economy.
"As the economy improves -- it's much better in 2012 than it was in 2008 -- baby boomers will start moving out of the workforce," McNamara said.
Job fair at Red Lion
Job seekers can meet with employers at a career fair today in Sacramento.
The free event is 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Red Lion Hotel Sacramento, 1401 Arden Way.
For more information, visit www.nationalcareerfairs.com
El Dorado career forum
The El Dorado Hills Chamber of Commerce renews its career forum series on Friday.
The forum is 8 to 10 a.m. at California Welcome Center, 2085 Vine Street, Suite 105, in El Dorado Hills.
Friday's focus will be on local career opportunities and will feature speakers from the El Dorado County Economic Development Department and Cameron Park Community Services District.
Participants also will find information on continuing education offered through the Los Rios Community College District.
Job-seeking professionals attending the forums can also learn about career and entrepreneurship opportunities and network with others transitioning into new careers.
For more information, call Amanda Clemons at the El Dorado Hills Chamber of Commerce, (916) 933-1335.
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