Finding Degree Nursing jobs in Kenya: 3 Tips from tens of interviews & hundreds of interviewees

Census projections by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics estimates the Kenyan population to be approximately 45million in 2017. Averagely 20% of Kenyans are unemployed. Dear nurse,brace yourself for this reality. After graduating from nursing school prepare to be jobless or at best get shitty offers dressed as entry level nursing jobs. Pardon my French; but this is a difficult time for nurses especially with the Kenyan health sector in turmoil.

“The Chinese use two brush strokes to write the word ‘crisis.’ One brush stroke stands for danger; the other for opportunity. In a crisis, be aware of the danger–but recognize the opportunity.”

-John F. Kennedy

The unfolding Kenyan health crisis occasioned by chaotic promulgation of the Constitution of Kenya 2010 provisions on health; longstanding systemic under funding; bipartisanship and unresponsive health policies have gotten us here. As health professionals in Kenya, we can only work towards ensuring that the phoenix arises from the ashes. Having been trained as a nurse, duty supersedes nonchelance. This is because being a nurse demands one to lead.

And so I say this to my younger colleagues in the profession: Dear nurse, don’t you fret. Do not despair. You will overcome. Rewarding nursing jobs can be hard to come by. Fair enough. Nothing you can do about somethings. What is tragic is when you allow the those that are right under your nose flyby without a muscle flicker. The secret is to cast your net wide. As wide as we have already identified in our breakdown of nursing careers beyond bedside nursing positions and community nursing jobs.

I’m here to offer guidance. In my nursing career, spanning a decade plus, I have interviewed hundreds of individuals seeking nursing positions. I have also interacted with scores of colleagues who know what it takes to pursue various nursing career options. A nursing position candidate who follows these four tips is likely to stand out in a crowded  field.

The importance of subscribing to job alerts of different types of nursing jobs

In our post on hacking nursing school, we implored on the student pursing a Bsn Degree to master the art of satisfying examiners. Now that you are looking for jobs in nursing, the tricks remain the same.

Tip: Remember this simple yet easy to forget life hack: Preparation makes light work

As a general rule, in natural career progression, choosing which organization to work for becomes plausible as you gain experience and knowledge. But I encourage those pursuing nursing careers to always act like they are five years ahead of their current positions.

For instance, a Bsn Degree first year should think like an intern whose has completed their internship.Consider this matrix that follows the PDSA used in Quality Improvement in healthcare. Where you Plan, Do, Study then Act.

The plan, do, study & act approach


Planning includes eg: What opportunities are available for a post internship Bsc in nursing? Where do I want to be in 5 years? Trend Analysis: What about these opportunities is unlikely to change?


Your answer from planning might be: I wish to be a nurse manager in one of the mushrooming outpatient centers. To ‘Do’ then might entail research for specific opportunities. Here you aim to answer specific questions like what skill set is required for job x in organization Y ? Some health organizations may require ‘sweeteners’ like volunteer experience. Use the lead time to build your volunteer experience. Others like government institution require certain training from The Kenya School of Government. This is the time to enrol.


What I have done to be ready? What can I do better?


This is where you implement the corrective action. For instance does you profile on social media build your brand as a professional? All the volunteer work that you have been doing, can you find a way for it to be captured?

Coming with such a simple career and personal development plan might seem daunting at first, but with the requisite information, it becomes Ubusuma na Mrenda as my father the Luhya might say it. ‘Kazi mboga’ as the teacher in him would translate. ‘A walk in the park’ as he would tirelessly say it to me as we sat with other parents and their kids (the lucky few of us who got visited) under the scanty shade of the lone playing ground tree.

We often miss opportunity because it’s dressed in overalls and looks like work

To this quote by the great inventor Thomas Edison, supplant this simple yet easy to forget  life hack from my father: Preparation makes light work. Easy to digest advice that went down well with madiaba (500ml) Fanta and unsliced bread during those talks on visiting day at Kibabii Primary Girls boarding school. Your preparation for applying for nursing jobs in Kenya begins with collecting all the information you can find on careers in nursing in Kenya.

Such volunteer work such as acting on the board of your alumunus could be the differnce maker in clinching some nursing jobs
Volunteering: The Author, Anne Kharunda, at her alumnus Kibabii Girls Primary School in Bungoma County where she serves on the board.

Subscribe to LinkedIn nursing  jobs alerts. Create google alerts using keywords like nursing careers, careers in nursing, jobs for nurses and jobs in nursing. Ensure that you add identifiers such as Kenya and 2017 to create more targeted queries such as: nursing jobs currently available in Nairobi; locum nursing jobs in Nairobi 2017 e.t.c

Even if it might take a while to get your career and personal development plan going, at the very least you will be able to know which health organizations are growing and are thus more likely to undertake nursing recruitment. You can then target them by acquiring the right skill set and experience.

At the very worst, keeping tabs with health care organizations might come in handy for answering that dreaded hob interview question: “Tell us what you know about this organization” or even “Do you have any questions for us?” to the ultimate game changer “Where do you see yourself in five/ten years; and how will working here fit into your plans?”

Preparing your documents: Getting it right with nursing job CV

First things first. Write a sample CV. Emphasis on the ‘sample’ part. At this juncture, worry not over details like formatting. What I mean is that it should be as close to the document that will go before you, knock on doors, stand in your stead, champion for you before those nursing jobs interview. To get there, these three commandments should guide you:

  • Make a draft CV that details everything a prospective employer needs to know
  • Never have only one CV. Have several versions of your credentials. A CV for teaching clinical courses is different from the one needed for daily nursing practice.
  • Use professional CV writing companies . These guys are usually HR professionals and are the equivalent of match makers in the dating world.

Towards your dream nursing job: Choosing your referees and contact persons

In my earlier article on hacking nursing school, I implored on BsN Degree students to stick to the wards as a strategy towards acing school of nursing. Part of the dividends of making this a habit are realized now when you go out job hunting.

During your stay in school, you must have identified permanent faculty members  who took you through certain units. Common sense dictates that you pick the ones that you got along with pretty fine first . Approach them and ask them to be your referees. These should also be people who can respond when called upon within short timelines. The secret here is avoid baggage who like wheelbarrows need to be pushed. A senior might be a fine tutor, friend, colleague but a pathetic referee.

As you chose your referees, pick mentors you can modeled your nursing career around. Mentors can help get you the right referees and be aware of a larger pool of nursing positions. For referee purposes, your picks should meet some criteria such as he/she unit or sectional heads. Be careful also not to go for an overkill for instance listing a world renown neurosurgeon as referee for a nursing locum position. Pick referees personally known to you.  Approach them and have them as your referees. Ask your referees to write recommendation letters for you. Recommendation letters add value to your application.

Disclaimer: Any brand or company mentioned here is not an endorsement but a point of information. My person, third parties on my behalf have not received, demanded or intend to demand inducements for this mention.

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3 thoughts on “Finding Degree Nursing jobs in Kenya: 3 Tips from tens of interviews & hundreds of interviewees”

  1. Collins Omondi

    Now after nurturing the big brain taking bsn nursing in Kenya with a major purpose of improving health , time has come to stop not only focusing on the books but also to defend their position and work without harm . This is to better citizens life and also to improve their lifestyle

    Bsn nurses now you understand nursing is a calling and is the central part in medicine.

    Without nurses no health facility can run. He! Can doctors make beds. Do they concerns of patients cleanliness. Do they even dispense drugs. Can they be there to offer full service to the patients. Turning them every time no.

    Life is how you plan and play your cards within the time limit.
    Let’s apply for the job opportunities around even before we complete our degree. Learning with practice help one get More experience.

  2. Thank you for your observation Collins. The country is looking at degree nurses to provide direction to the profession.

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