Confessions from hospital HR (here’s why we didn’t hire you)

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As you’ve undoubtedly noticed over the past few years, finding a nurse job right now is no small feat. But what may not be quite as evident is that it isn’t always easy being a nurse recruiter in today’s economy, either.

One unlucky recruiter told a candidate that he just wasn’t a good fit; the nurse called back later to tell the recruiter she was unattractive. This wasn’t as bad as the nurse who was so angry at being rejected that the entire building had to go into lockdown due to her threats….(continued on page 2)

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Lynda Lampert

Lynda Lampert is a registered nurse and a certified third shift worker. She has worked with many different patient populations, including post-op open heart, post-op gastric bypass, active chest pain, congestive heart failure, poorly controlled diabetics and telemetry 'wonders'. She now focuses all of her effort on educating the populace -- both the nursing world and the normal folk -- through her web writing. She hopes one day to publish another romance novel, travel to England and become a web rock star. She feels she is on her way . . . mostly. You can learn more about Lynda and her work at

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26 Responses to Confessions from hospital HR (here’s why we didn’t hire you)

  1. pollypepper

    Does the author or anyone with appropriate knowledge know whether the issue of nurses with convictions constitutes a 100% bar from employment? Suppose the applicant has three or so misdemeanor convictions occurring four year prior to employment. Is he unviable as a job seeker? Is there any hope?

    • Jenniffer Hetzler

      Different employers have different guidelines. Two of the hospitals I applied for said that they DO consider people for positions if they have prior convictions. I think it just depends on the hospital and their policies. Always be upfront about any convictions though, never try to hide them or just not disclose them. I think that persons best bet is to check with each HR prior to applying. Good luck!

  2. alone and 4gotten

    I am in a position now of trying to find employment after being out of the nursing job market for a few years. I have applied to countless places, secured about 4 or 5 interviews and have not been hired by any. I keep trying to figure out what I’m doing wrong to not get hired. I pretty much have been following the guidelines outlined in your article, I do not have any sort of convictions, I do not dress in nursing attire when on an interview; I dress in usually black dressy pants, nice blouse or cami and usually something to go over like a casual cover something of a very casual blazer type cover. I am not a very outgoing person by nature, and I’m thinking maybe the person interviewing has the thought that I’m not motivated enough. I have gotten called back for a second interview a few times and this is where there is a “panel” of people asking different questions I guess from their selected perspective of expertise. My family at this point thinks I am going to these interviews with the intention of sabotaging my efforts because I really do not want to work period anymore. If I hear back from any of these places it’s usually something to the effect of ” you are not what we are looking for right now” or ” we can’t use you right now, try back in 6 months”, or “thank you for applying, but we have hired someone better suited for the job”. I can tell you that I have never in 25 years had such a hard time trying to find a job in nursing. Needless to say this is extremely frustrating and I am being told by my family to get any job now even one at McDonald’s. Any thoughts on this?

    • NurseMamaJo

      Have hope…you are not the only one who feels forgotten!! You could have been writing my bio when you told us your sad tale!! I too have ALOT of years under my belt [28+] and had been out of hospital nursing since 2010. I’m applying to my old jobs and am still getting “over looked”. What ever happened to the old days when you typed your resume on some really nice paper and hand delivered it to HR??! I recently applied to 12 positions [again many I had worked previously] and got an email back from almost all of them “we are pursuing other candidates” … My family also thinks I am sabotaging the process :( Not sure what to tell you…other than you have my empathy and best wishes for “something” to turn up!!

  3. renawolf

    I`m a cheerful, perky, friendly person. When I have worked in nursing homes and home health, my patients loved me. But my co-workers treated me bad and would make up lies to get me fired. Now I think that will hurt my chances of getting a good, steady job in the nursing field. I don`t smoke, lie, cuss, gossip, or stand around talking trash, and I can not understand why my co-workers treated me as the did or lied about me. My CNA registry was even suspended for one year because of my co-workers lies, and I do not know if I`ll be able to get hired some where good when the year is up.

    • cherielpn

      Hello Rena,
      I am the SAME kind of person and the SAME thing happens to me? I was actually just working for a angency where the people are just RUDE and MEAN .. horrible customer service.. but I was STILL nice.. the more customers who requested me the MEANER they got. I went to another branch with the same company and then came back for some extra work and I had ONE little glitch where I ran out of gas.. I was sick that day.. coming in sick to work.. and the branch manger SUSPENDED me and was trying to TERMINATE Me.. I had been NOTHING BUT KIND to these people. ( I did find out they were trying to steal from me however.. ) sometimes.. some of these places are just run by sour apples.. I suppose.. but still I know it seems so unfair. My suggestion would be to just run for your life and find a new job.. where the coworkers and people appreciate a happy face.. I am JUST like y ou.. I would stay out of the drama.. stay away from the cigarette smokers.. all of that.. they HATED me.. in Nursing school too. I just did not realize it at first.. because I have such a good attitude. IF they want to slander you.. then sue for SLANDER!!! if you can prove it? OR is there somebody higher up who you can talk to? Please let me know.. I deal with the SAME THING. The worse things have happened to me in my life in dealing wit SOUR People.. WATCH OUT.

  4. jadab

    I was a bit put off by the VP of HR referring to nurses as “girls.” IM thinking I don’t want to work there!

    • yoyo

      I agree with you, Jadab, HR like this needs to learn respect. In my experience jobs are gotten from the inside. Ask people you know to keep you in mind when something opens, ask for manager email, network. Outside-in, through applications, does not work anymore, its different time. With economy as such, nurses who were selling real estate are coming out of woodwork, schools put out new nurses by truckload, people hang on to their jobs for dear life.

  5. gail930

    One should check their state laws regarding the type, number and age of any criminal convictions that would be a bar to being employed.

  6. gail930

    As for Continuing Education courses- I have only had to provide proof of the most recent ones that indicate I am current. Florida now records CEU’s electronically and reports to the licensing board so that should not be a problem; If you are not current you cannot renew! I have been a nurse since 1980 in two different states and have never been asked for CEU’s from the start of my career- only those required for the most recent renewal period.

  7. dac2215

    For hospital jobs I can’t get hired because I’m at the top of the pay scale-35 years (mandated by the collective bargaining unit). Other positions-they “prefer” a BSN, not required, but I have a stack of rejections anyway.
    I’ve done just about everything in critical care a nurse can do plus floating to cath lab, ambulatory care and some shifts as nursing supervisor.
    Man am I frustrated. I’m trying to find something NON-bedside.

  8. breehat

    Ouch!!! JUST BECAUSE WE DON’T LIKE YOU. Painful but true.

  9. jesseRN

    Is it 1950? Referring to nurses as “girls” is disrespectful to female and male nurses. Getting a nursing degree isn’t a cake walk. We deserve to be called registered nurses, not “girls.”

    • nurse kitty

      I agree with jesseRN! This article was rather insulting in the fact that numerous times your experts talked about the nurses they interviewed as “girls” and spoke only about their interviewee’s as women. First off do they only hire women? News flash men actually work as nurses and they are every bit as fantastic as the women who do. Honestly are the these recruiters from the 1950’s? Secondly “girls”? My co-workers don’t refer to each other as “girls” we say ladies and gentlemen, I found that pretty disrespectful that a recruiter would refer to nurses as girls and not just once but a couple times in this article.

      Lastly Scrubs Magazine, I used to really like your articles. The articles you used to produce were carefully crafted and thought through and relevant to modern nurses. Lately I have been finding they are getting worse and worse, with many articles buying into to terrible stereotypes, this article falls into that category. Shame on you for allowing this sort of material to be published under the guise of being material “by nurses for nurses”.

  10. breehat

    Everything listed here can be fixed or resolved. The only most difficult “qualification” to attain here is EXPERIENCE. If nobody wants to give an inexperienced nurse, then how can he/she get that experience? So , maybe, she will never have that experience at all, or maybe end up as a caregiver or a nurse aide.

  11. cas123

    Many interviews, I have turned down a couple of jobs and have been rejected by many others. I am fortunate enough to be working, but I want something better. I have done the best I can to make a good impression, but sometimes I feel uncomfortable with certain people and I am sure they feel the same. I think it is a combination of ageism and personal preferences. If they don’t like something about me there is little I can do about it. I wish they would be straight with me, but if it is my age I guess they can’t do that because it is against the law.

    It seems they want very specialized experience today and do not want to spend time training someone- but every area is highly specialized so you cannot know it all. I am 54 with many years yet to work, not overweight, little personal baggage or demands. I am flexible now with no little children or parents to care for, I am at my peak but I cannot break through barriers. So frustrating. I have continued my education and am sometimes told that I am “overqualified” which is baloney. There is no such thing.

    I HATE APPLYING FOR JOBS. I am sick of cruel managers who treat applicants like dirt. I can only imagine how employees are treated in some of these places. Must I beg? Will work for food….

  12. JerZFox RN

    And doing all the “right” things and avoiding all the “wrong”ones STILL won’t get you the job.

  13. Suezee22

    For nurses not wanting bedside with 35 years, try case management for hospitals or insurance co.

  14. Help2016

    I have been a nurse for 29 yrs. I was employed at a an area hospital for 4 yrs, as a Dialysis/ICU nurse. While in ICU, having a busy day, another nurse helped with the care of my stable of two patients. The nurse assisting me stated she gave all of the patient’s medications. At the end of the shift, the next nurse asked me about an ANTIBIOTIC (NOT A NARCOTIC) not signed off. I documented it was given like the helpful nurse told me. I went into the pt’s room, took the bag across the hall to the dirty utility room to view the date on the bag (I was scheduled for cataract surg the next week), the lights in the unit were low–8pm, so I needed a stronger light to “see” the bag. I was dismissed for “dishonesty’ for signing off the medication that was found out wasn’t given and for “trying to hide the evidence’, by throwing the antibiotic bag away in the utility room. I was honest about signing off the medication I thought was given by another nurse. In this area there is a system called MedVerify, that I was placed in allowing other employers to know I was dismissed for dishonesty. I have been truthful, in interviews, that I was dismissed from my previous position. My mistake has prevented me from finding a job.

    • Keisha78

      Mistakes can haunt you. I had a misdemeanor on my record in 98 from my ex husband telling a lie on me. I was blessed to get a job. I been a cna 19 years but want more in life i have a medical billing and coding degree and my bachelor’s in administrative health-care management. I can’t find a job. I got called for several interviews but none lead to hire. Why can some people be understanding. Your past dont define who you are as you matured. The job i was on for 11 years fired me. I felt used. My child passed i tool a Loa. I came back tjeu said i dont need you anymore. Since then for 2 years i was out of work. I decided never to work for someone else i work for myself. It takes time to grow your own business. No one can fire me and im in control of what i make. Those interested in doing the same email me abundance553@gmail

  15. Jathip

    After reading about Donna Burns RN Plano Tx, want to add my congratulations on an award well deserved!!
    Judith Driscoll RN

  16. SadeLaufer

    All the points covered in this article is worth considering to get the job any aspiring nurse may want. After finishing your nursing education, you are surely looking forward to getting a job faster. There are plenty of nursing jobs available which one can search for via the internet at,, etc.. Your interview is again a crucial step to present yourself in professional and positive manner when striving for nursing jobs. During the interview, you should answer honestly and take your time. Asking your own questions about orientation, availability of continuing education courses, etc. can also make a good impression.

  17. VickiP

    I applied for two jobs and took one of them. The second one I emailed and let them know that I had accepted a position at another facility because email was their only source of communication. We crossed emails. They were very excited to have me on board. When I told him I had accepted a position at a different facility. I got a reply that stated they were very sorry but I did not fulfill their requirements which of course I did. Somehow I’m glad I didn’t go to work for them

  18. b_ur_self_baby_love

    I have a Medical Assistant degree and trying to get hired on at a hospital, I have a couple assault charges, 1 domestic assault, 3 marijuana charges, bad check, driving charges but no DUI or DWI etc… what is holding me back from working in a hospital? I appied for a good cause waiver and was approved for that, now working on expungement but not sure what charge or charges are holding me back…PLEASE HELP

    • Grandma123

      How long did it take for your good cause waiver to be approved? I just a week ago was in orientation for a new job and they said my background came back with a finding of a bad check and that all..The company said they would back me and they sent the waiver off for me..

  19. woodschool

    I am in the same position as Rena. have to wonder how many of us GREAT,GOOD nurse have been put on the forgotten & do not respond list.
    It’s really discouraging after working so hard for so long. My deal is I chose to take care of a dying husband with brain cancer INSTED OF (as encouraged to do by the oncologist) divorcing him, putting him in a nursing home & moving on with my life. I was really told to do that. I absolutely did not do that, I took care of him for 13 long yrs. with multiple craniotomies, radiation-which blinded him, raised our 2 kids & tried to work. After he passed, I went to school, got my NP-passsed the board exam, & now i truly think I am facing age discrimination!! I’m still good, not old enough to retire, but this business has put me out to pasture way before my time!!