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How do I get back into nursing after being out due to an injury which resulted in a lawsuit?

Thursday February 16, 2012
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Dear Donna,

I was injured on the job three years ago and had surgery. I went through physical therapy and a workers’ compensation lawsuit, which was settled. I need to go back to work as an RN. The problem is I have been searching for over seven months for work in any setting. I get as far as the interview, then I hear nothing back after my work history is exposed. What does a recovered BSN with 14 years of experience do to get back into nursing?


Dear Donna replies:

Dear Christina,

If you're getting interviews, that's great. However, if you're not getting any offers,
I suspect it is, at least partly related to the way you are presenting your recent absence from the workplace. Since you say that you hear nothing else after the past work history is exposed, read “Job-hunting challenges take some trouble shooting” (http://news.nurse.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2001108010324).

You are not required to reveal any past injury, illness, workers’ comp or related lawsuit on an interview, unless you require accommodations on the job. I am assuming you do not. When asked why you left your last job you can simply say there were personal matters that needed your attention, but that is all resolved now and you are ready and eager to get back to work.

Read “Picking up the pieces of your career” (www.Nurse.com/Cardillo/Pieces). As the article suggests, you need to do more face-to-face networking. Networking is well known to be an effective way to find a job, especially if you have obstacles to overcome.

You also should start volunteering in a healthcare setting while you continue to look for paid employment. Volunteering is a great way to get your foot in the door somewhere, gain recent experience to put on your resume and discuss on an interview, and expand your professional network. Volunteering often leads to paid employment. When you can't get in the front door, try the back.

In addition to the above, including the advice in the referenced articles, you might consult a nursing career coach for additional support and help. When what you're doing isn't working, its time to try a new approach.

Best wishes,

Donna Cardillo, RN, MA, well-known career guru, is Nursing Spectrum/NurseWeek’s “Dear Donna” and author of “Your First Year as a Nurse: Making the Transition from Total Novice to Successful Professional” and “The ULTIMATE Career Guide for Nurses: Practical Advice for Thriving at Every Stage of Your Career.” Information about the books is available at www.Nurse.com/CE/7010 and www.Nurse.com/CE/7250, respectively. To ask Donna your question, go to www.Nurse.com/asktheexperts/deardonna. Find a “Dear Donna” seminar near you: Call 800-866-0919 or visit http://events.nursingspectrum.com/Seminar.