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The Justin Bieber factor

College News, Science, Top Reads — July 21, 2011

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With nursing professor Marilyn Smith-Stoner behind the camera, students (from left to right) Holly O’Neil, Evelyn Gonzalez and Gabriela Diaz work on their video resumes.

By Caitlin Elgin

Several nursing students at Cal State San Bernardino have found inspiration in an unlikely source for gaining an edge in a tough job market: Justin Bieber.

After submitting many applications in hopes of finding employment after graduation this past spring, the students came up empty. They talked to Marilyn Smith-Stoner, a CSUSB associate professor of nursing, who pushed them to try a different approach – video resumes.

“Everywhere I turn Justin Bieber is getting a multimillion-dollar deal, and all these nurses want is a job,” Stoner said in talking about how she got the idea. It makes sense. If Justin Bieber can get his start through YouTube, why not have nursing students give it a shot?

Assisted by Stoner, four students in Cal State San Bernardino’s nursing department – Holly O’Neil, Matthew Rodriguez, Gabriela Diaz and Evelyn Gonzalez – have filmed videos of themselves highlighting their nursing expertise. The videos contain information normally found on a resume: previous work experience, education and job skills, as well as the bonus of seeing the students in action.

Despite talk of a nursing shortage and nurses being in high demand, many of today’s students are having a much more difficult time finding nursing jobs. According to Stoner, there are several reasons for the difficulties.

For starters, despite the nursing shortage, a limited number of hospitals are hiring first-time nurses. Another major factor is the lag time between nurse residency programs, which help students transition from school to practice after graduation.

“Depending on the time of graduation, the start dates may be several months after graduation, which is not much of a consolation if you are an eager new graduate waiting for that first break,” said Stoner.

Health care reform is another factor playing a role in making the nursing job market tight. These reforms can affect the way health care providers seek to care for an aging America, and advances in health care, such as genetics, can chip away at the employment positions hospitals offer.

But one factor should come as no surprise: “The economy figures heavily into the reason for limited new graduate positions,” Stoner said.

The videos, which have been uploaded to YouTube, each took about two days to script, film and produce, using CSUSB’s nursing learning lab as a film set. The students wrote the videos themselves based on their “dream jobs,” such as in neo-natal intensive care, critical care nursing and pediatrics, to name a few.

Nursing student Diaz, 32, of Montclair, thought the videos would give her “a leg up on the competition.” In her own search for nursing video resumes, she found almost none created by nurses.

With the lack of other nursing graduates’ videos, Diaz and her fellow students hope that theirs will stand out and have already sent many of their videos off, along with cover letters and printed resumes.

“Nurse managers across the area will be overwhelmed with new grad applications and eventually they all start to blend together and look and sound the same,” said Gonzalez, 45, from Beaumont. “Having a video will catch their attention and help to make me stand out in their memory.”

Gonzalez hopes to find work as an RN in a cardiac unit at a local hospital, and has plans to attend graduate school at CSUSB, with an emphasis on caring for the elderly. O’Neil, 24, from Glendale, plans to take her skills to Tacoma, Wash., and care for women and newborns in labor and delivery or postpartum nursing, while Rodriguez, also 24, from Upland, would like to use his degree to work in cardiac or intensive care. Gonzalez, O’Neill, Rodriguez and Diaz are “out there” now. All four graduated in June.

Caitlin Elgin served as an intern in the Office of Public Affairs during the winter and spring quarters earlier this year. She graduated In June with her bachelor’s degree in communication studies.

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