Best Hospital for New Grad Nurses in Santa Rosa

The Top 3 Hospitals in Santa Rosa

The top 3 hospitals to work for in Santa Rosa are:

  1. Kaiser
  2. Sutter
  3. Santa Rosa Memorial

Factors to Consider

Which of these three is the best for a new grad nurse looking for their first job in a hospital? The factors we consider in your decision include:

  • Salary
  • Orientation and Mentorship
  • Departments
  • Patient Population
  • Benefits
  • Culture
  • Work Satisfaction
  • Charting Software
  • Difficulty

From New Grad to Working Nurse

Congratulations! You passed the NCLEX, have your license, and eager to start your nursing career. Where do new grads who want to work in Santa Rosa come from? Most new grads in Santa Rosa graduate from the Santa Rosa Junior College (SRJC) program. To work as a new grad nurse, programs such as SRJC will earn you a Associate’s Degree for schooling and qualify you to work as a nurse after you passed the boards. This program, as well as other junior college nursing programs (College of Marin, San Francisco City College), are very affordable but highly competitive to get into. However, some schools such as the SRJC program admit on a “lottery” system and you may be one of the lucky ones who gets admitted to the program. The cost is relatively low, the schooling is not too long (2 years), and the salary is very competitive and one the highest in the United States.

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Is nursing worth pursuing? Being that this is an occupational therapy blog, let’s compare nursing to occupational therapy on a financial basis. Currently, to work as a nurse you need an Associate’s. To work as an occupational therapist, you need a Master’s degree. The master’s equates to more time, more schooling, and more money spent on tuition and supplies. Not to mention the time you are in school could be used to earn money and save for your future. Who makes more? Nurses. Most nurses belong to a union that helps to negotiate their salary and advocate for better working conditions and raises. Most occupational therapists that I know do not belong to a union. If you are debating between nursing and occupational therapy from a purely financial perspective, then nursing comes out on top. Of course, to have what it takes to be a healthcare worker (nurse and occupational therapist), it takes a lot more than a desire to earn a lot of money. If money is what attracted you to nursing, be sure to do your research. We recommend that you work as a CNA / care partner first to experience what the role of nurses is like on the job.

Salary

California is currently the highest paying state in the US for nursing salaries. According to nurse.org, the top 3 average salaries by state are:

  • California: Average RN Salary: $113,240, Average Hourly: $54.44, Number of RNs in California: 302,770
  • Hawaii: Average RN Salary: $104,060, Average Hourly: $50.03, Number of RNs in Hawaii: 11,330
  • District of Columbia: Average RN Salary: $94,820, Average Hourly: $45.59, Number of RNs in DC: 10,890

So in terms of salary, the top 3 hospitals are all quite competitive. No matter which one you work at for your first nursing job, you will be doing quite well for yourself. Kaiser tends to pay the most.

Winner: Kaiser

Orientation and Mentorship

What is a new grad program? It is for qualified and registered nurses who have not worked as a nurse before. These programs allow you to work as a nurse and attend classes while getting paid.

Sutter, Kaiser, and Santa Rosa Memorial offer new grad mentorship programs. Sutter (Sutter University) and Kaiser offer them less frequently than Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital’s (SRMH) New Grad AcademyKaiser’s is the most difficult to get into as it is competitive, is open for a short time frame, and randomly without announcement. Sutter offers the academy in Sacramento and has been getting great feedback, but also more difficult to get into. Santa Rosa Memorial offers the most consistent program that is 1 year in duration. SRMH’s new grad academy program comes out on top as it is the easiest to get into.

Your experience with mentorship will vary and depend on your specific mentor. Between the three hospitals, it all comes down to your nurse, their experience, and their personality of who you will learn from. Who your manager is and how they manage their unit also affects your experience as a new grad nurse. Lastly, the type of unit you work for is another consideration.

Winner: SRMH

Departments

The unit you want to start out at is a major consideration. If you are not sure, then med surg may be a good start to your career than a specialized unit such as oncology. However, if you did not precept at a specialized unit, it may be very difficult to land your first job in that unit than med surg. The work environment is another consideration. For example, the environment of a general medical surgical unit is likely busier than oncology, where the environment is more quiet. All 3 hospitals offer new grad positions in their various units including med surg, ortho, telemetry, neuro, and oncology – to name a few. Between the 3 hospitals, there is no clear winner. If you precepted at one specific hospital, know the in’s and outs, and know the people who work there (especially the lead nurses and managers), this is likely your best choice.

Winner: Tie

Patient Population

In short, Kaiser is a HMO and mostly serves patient’s that have Kaiser insurance. Sutter takes “more” patients as they are a PPO. Santa Rosa is the broadest and also serves those without insurance and takes Medicare, Medical, and Partnership. In my opinion, SRMH is the most appealing as you will see a wider range of patient demographics to better build your nursing skill set. Many SRMH patients are under or uninsured, including the homeless.

Winner: SRMH

Benefits

Kaiser comes out on top in terms of benefits, but Sutter and SRMH offer quite competitive benefits packages including 401(k), healthcare, dental, and more. Kaiser offers generous paid time off and sick leave benefits. In contrast, SRMH employees draw from one large “pool” for PTO and do not have a sick leave bank.

Winner: Kaiser

Culture

There is company culture and there is unit culture. We cannot speak to unit culture as they are very specific and there are so many units! In terms of company culture, Kaiser may be the least appealing as employees with more seniority have the best work experience. We cannot speak to Sutter, but SRMH is quite welcoming to new grads. Most employees are new grads as well. Compared to Kaiser and Sutter, SRMH is a catholic nonprofit hospital part of the larger Providence St Joseph network. SRMH is welcoming of all religions, but you should know that they do a “daily huddle” which may have some religious themes at times, but not so much that it may make you feel uncomfortable. The nurses and other staff that work at each hospital are all awesome and this experience is changing all the time as nurses get hired and transfer or retire. Your experience will definitely vary as nurses from all 3 hospitals have reported positive feedback.

Winner: TIE

Work Satisfaction

In California, nursing ratios are one of the best. These are California ratios, so the hospital you apply for is less relevant. For example, in med surg, nurses may have a 5:1 ratio. The unit you work for is also a factor. Oncology and telemetry nurses have a 4:1 ratio. ICU nurses have a 2:1 ratio.

Winner: TIE

Charting Software (EHR)

Kaiser: EPIC

Sutter: EPIC

SRMH: Meditech

Currently, Kaiser and Sutter come out on top. EPIC is considered one of the better EMRs. You should know that there are different tiers of EPIC. Meditech, used by SRMH is more outdated and on its way out.  Meditech is less intuitive and user friendly, but once you are comfortable with it, you can chart quite fast. SRMH is planning to phase out Meditech and transition to EPIC, but has some setbacks due to COVID-19.

Winner: Kaiser and Sutter

Difficulty Getting Hired

You will likely have the easiest time getting into SRMH, then Sutter, then Kaiser (most difficult). If you have a social network with one of these hospitals, then you may have an easier time compared to the others. Sutter and Kaiser are considered more difficult and competitive. As SRJC students precept at SRMH, new grads often have an easier time getting hired there than Sutter and Kaiser. So dust off your resume and get them ready to drop off!

Winner: SRMH

Our Pick for Best Hospital for New Grad Nurses

In general, this depends on your personality, your goals, experience, social network, even the location of where you live.

Our pick for the best hospital to work for as a new grad nurse in Santa Rosa is: SRMH

Pros:

  • Easiest to get hired
  • Consistent new grad program
  • Good relationship with SRJC
  • Friendly new grad culture
  • Work with the underserved local community
  • Great interdisciplinary team (doctors, therapists, etc.)

Cons:

  • Meditech is less user friendly and intuitive
  • Less time off benefits

If you have the time, why not apply to all three? Currently, most hospitals are likely not hiring. Visitors are certainly not allowed except for special circumstances. Pro Tip: Normally, some managers welcome potential candidates who come in to introduce themselves and drop off their resumes (depends on the manager).

Good luck and happy nursing.

OTDUDE
About the Author: Jeff is the lead author and editor of OTDUDE.com, where he covers all things Occupational Therapy.

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