Home > The Practice of Nursing > Career Development > Job Seeking > Spotting Good Employers

Job Seeking: Spotting Good Employers

What to Look for

Look for symbols that point to programs and initiatives that aim to improve the work experience. Is there an equal opportunities statement or mention of employee-friendly policies? Is there an indication of the organization's mission? If so, do you identify with it? How positive is the wording in the organization's advertising? Visit the organization's website to find out more.

A job application package should include a detailed job description and personal qualifications statement, both of which will help you tailor your application form and interview performance effectively. Write a list of all the positive statements in the ad and application package, then think about ways to discover whether the employer is simply paying “lip service” to good employment practice.

Use your networks! Consider who among your friends, relatives, colleagues, former colleagues, fellow students, tutors, managers or social contacts might know the employer. Do they have other contacts who might know the employer?

Ask your contact questions such as:

  • Is there a commitment to clinical supervision, mentorship and preceptorship?
  • How good are the staffing levels?
  • Is there a high rate of illness?
  • What is the level of staff turnover?
  • What proportion of the staff is permanent?
  • How good are the standards of care or service provision? Is practice evidence-based?
  • Are there clear policies and procedures in place?
  • Is there strong leadership and support by, and for, managers?
  • Does the employer consult with staff about employment issues?

Visit your portfolio and record what you have learned.

Quality Practice Environments

Good employers are those who can provide their nurses with a quality professional practice environment.

The CNA 2001 position paper on this subject states: “A quality nursing professional practice environment is one in which the needs and goals of the individual nurse are met at the same time as the patient or client is assisted to reach his or her individual health goals, within the costs and quality framework mandated by the organization…”

This means:

  • adequate staffing, and of an appropriate skill mix;
  • nurse educators, mentors and preceptors present to assist with continuing education needs and individual goals;
  • nurses involved in decision-making;
  • zero tolerance for workplace violence; and
  • fair compensation that recognizes education, experience, responsibility and performance.

Look for policies preventing work-related stress, injury or exposure to dangerous substances, as well as access to confidential occupational health and counseling services. The working environment should be clean and safe.

Visit your portfolio and record what you have learned.

Professional Development

Finding an employer that puts the patient or client at the centre of all its policies and practice is essential. You don't want to be in a situation where your professional standards are compromised, leaving you feeling frustrated and demoralized.

Genuine commitment to the needs and interests of patients or clients requires that an organization value its nursing staff and invest in education, training and development. Respect for nurses requires investment in education. Your accountability to your regulatory body should also be recognized.

The employer's principles on patient safety, confidentiality, consent, administration of medicines and record keeping should be enshrined in clear policies and protocols. You need to know that you will not be put in a position where you are torn between your accountability to the regulatory organization and to your employer. Employers should have their own policies for staff to speak out where patients, clients or staff are at risk.

Visit your portfolio and record what you have learned.