“I can’t find a job as a nurse–do I have to start over?”


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Here at Scrubs you are NEVER alone!

Occasionally we get a request for advice from a nurse who is having some difficulty in his/her job situation or home life. We will ALWAYS keep the identity confidential and will respond as best we can by drawing on our highly diverse family of writers.

This is one that we received recently:

I have been an RN for two years, and lost my previous job back in July 2011. I have been unable to get a job since then. I feel like my former employer has been dragging my name through the mud. Either that, or nobody wants me after finding out I lost two jobs. The first job was right out of nursing school and turned out to not be a good fit. I had trouble learning cardiac rhythms and they fired me because of that, even though I asked for help. The job I lost in July was basically because my boss treated me like an outsider and treated everything I did and said as wrong. I never ever harmed a patient or put a patient in danger in either job. This is wreaking havoc on me not only career-wise, but emotionally as well. What can I do? All I know is how to be nurse and I don’t want to give that up. I just don’t know what to do anymore.

Sound familiar? It did to ME! Once upon a time, an RN could leave one job, walk across the street and land another right away with no delays. Unfortunately, in today’s job market we no longer have that kind of clout. Facility administrators are under orders to cut costs by any and all means possible and that usually means staff reduction.

Even older, experienced RNs who have done it ALL find themselves having a harder than usual time getting an interview after sending out dozens of resumes and filling out countless applications. Employers do not seem to value the quality of care as much as they do the bottom line. This is a real slap in the face for those who have dedicated their lives to being the best that they can be and going above and beyond so many times.

The more time that passes takes its toll on your psyche, self-esteem and physical well being. Any nurse in this kind of situation should see a doctor or therapist to deal with the depression and feelings of helplessness and hopelessness that begin to emerge. No one should have to suffer with these drains on your life!

If you have the flexibility to relocate or to work in a different community, it is worth considering, especially if you feel your name and reputation have been “blacklisted where you are.

Also, it never hurts to look into other avenues of nursing such as home health, school nursing, hospice care, outpatient surgery or even medical coding and billing specialties. There are a lot of continuing education and technical training courses online which can open up new doors without you having to take on the burden of yet another college degree. Take advantage of the free continuing education offerings in order to stay current on issues and changes in practice.

Managers and employers who treat nurses as you have described usually have their own bad reputations around the area. Most likely there are other nurses who have suffered the same type of abuse and they are usually easy to talk to.

My advice is this: Know that you are a person who is worthy of respect and that you must first love and respect YOURSELF. Get the professional help you need for the depression.

Be still and listen to your inner self. You may be nudged into something you have not even considered. I happen to believe there is a higher power that uses all of us, sometimes in ways which we could not have imagined. Be open to other possibilities even as “temporary” measures.

Most importantly: Do not give up on yourself! You are a worthy person who has made it through a difficult course and you have a license to practice. You are on a rough road that WILL get smoother eventually. Nurses are nothing if not resilient!

Nurse Rene
Nurse Rene has been an RN since 1978; CCRN since 1989 and attained a BSN in 2010. She has worked in virtually every specialty from Neonatology to Neurosurgery and is a Member of Sigma Theta Tau International Nursing Honor Society with a particular interest in helping students and new grads develop to their full potential. She's been married for 33 years and has a keen interest in history and in current issues as nursing continues to develop as a Real Profession. When not spoiling the grandchildren, she enjoys sewing, cooking, kayaking, camping and travel. She likes all music which does not hurt her ears, watching NCIS, Leverage, Top Gear and Criminal Minds and reads books written by Clive Cussler, Miss Manners, Erma Bombeck and Tom Clancy. She enjoys collecting Quotations for use in her writings.

    Regrets of an experienced nurse…

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