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'Getting knocked back was heart breaking but finally getting that job made it worth it'


After being rejected on the grounds that she didn’t have enough experience, Amanda started to feel that she would never find her first nurisng job

Recently I said goodbye to my nurse training and found myself graduating from the University of Nottingham with a 2:1 in Mental Health nursing.

I loved my nurse training, I learnt so much about myself and the kind of nurse I wanted to be, I met lots of lovely people and most importantly had the privilege to work with clients and patients to help improve their health and wellbeing.

By the end of my training I was nervous about qualifying, but felt ready to take on the responsibilities that being a student doesn’t allow. But when it came to looking for jobs, it was a hard and heart-breaking process.

I applied for job after job in the local area: filling out applications for community, community projects and wards. If I hadn’t heard back after a few weeks I’d ring to ask for feedback. These phone calls were identical each time: “we’re sorry but we are looking for someone with more experience. Your application scored well in our scoring system though.”

Each time I got this feedback, my heart broke. I’d worked so hard at university and it was looking like I would not be able to fulfil my dream of being a nurse simply because I was newly qualified.

After the 16th time rejection on these grounds, my hope of finding a job was at an all-time low. Generally I’m an optimistic person, but I found myself feeling low and hopeless.

Then it finally happened. After a long shift at placement, I checked my emails and found an invitation to interview waiting for me.

I screamed when I opened it!

It was an interview for an adult ward, which wanted to provide holistic care to their patients by having mental health nurses on the ward. I started frantically learning about the ward and the trust.

The interview was nerve wracking, terrifying and frightening. This was my chance to sell myself to two sisters of the ward so they would buy into me. I had to talk about my knowledge, my strengths and weaknesses, what I would bring to the role and to the trust and then had to ask my own questions.

“All those knockbacks no longer mattered, I’d got a job!”

I left the interview thinking I hadn’t got the job, thinking the two nurses would have thought I was silly to have even applied.

A few hours later I got a call saying I got the job!

I screamed, rang my family and friends and celebrated that night with my loved ones. All the worry had gone. All those knockbacks no longer mattered, I’d got a job!

If you are qualifying in the next few months, please can I give you some advice? Keep your spirits up, it’s a hard world out there and it might be a long hard process getting a job. But don’t let it get you down, you have worked hard to get on your course initially and have worked hard throughout your training.

You will get there, you just have to believe in yourself, and believe in nursing.


Amanda Smillie has just finished her mental health nursing degree at University of Nottingham. She is about to start working on a spinal ward as a mental health nurse.


Readers' comments (2)

  • Lovely article addressing the trials of life after university. Congratulations on your job Amanda!

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  • dannii_j

    So proud and honored to have met you and call you my friend! xxx

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