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Our entire dept of 27 case managers has been eliminated. Any suggestions for starting over at 55 plus?

Wednesday July 25, 2012
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Dear Donna,

I am a 55-year-old male RN who has worked at the same medical center and Magnet hospital for 18 years. For 10 of those, I was a board-certified case manager. The majority of my colleagues are older than 55 and about five to 10 years away from retirement. Like my colleagues, I have a consistent record of excellent performance evaluations. Throughout my career, my colleagues and managers have recognized my hard work and extra effort on behalf of our patients.

Suddenly, last month, it was announced that our entire department of 27 RN case managers had been eliminated. We are being replaced by social workers who are required to have only one to three years of experience. Some of the social workers replacing us have less than a year of experience. We are older and have extensive clinical experience.

By the end of this week, 27 of the most dedicated, experienced and passionate RNs I have had the privilege to know will have received severance packages. We will be walking away from a place to which we dedicated a large part of our lives and careers.

While the CEO's compensation of our nonprofit medical center topped $10 million last year, the 27 case management nurses are left with only a few weeks of severance. At a difficult time in our country's economy, we stand to lose a substantial portion of our defined pensions with our other benefits.

At one time nurses were almost immune from economic cycles. Now, we are in the same position as others whose jobs have been outsourced or filled with lower-wage workers.

Do you have any suggestions for starting over at 55 plus?

55 Plus RN

Dear Donna replies:

Dear 55 Plus RN,

Your recent experience is certainly unfortunate. Everything in the world around us — including nursing and healthcare — is changing and evolving. It's not necessarily bad; it's just different. That means all nurses, new and experienced, need to look in new directions for employment and need new skills to find those jobs.

In spite of all this, there still are opportunities for you, especially as an experienced RN and case manager with a good work history. Case management positions exist in insurance companies, private care management companies and other healthcare facilities. You may never have considered working in any of these settings, but you should, and need to, look into them.

I hope you are an active member of the Case Management Society of America (www.cmsa.org) If you are not, join and participate. Not only is this a great way to stay on the cutting edge of knowledge and information about your specialty, but it also is a great way to build and expand your network. Networking is well known to be a very effective way to find a job. At the very least, attend local chapter meetings of CMSA and the American Nurses Association (www.nursingworld.org) as a guest for now.

Do you have a Linkedin profile online? Many employers are using Linkedin (as well as Twitter and Facebook) to find candidates. Employees and consultants are increasingly using social media to find job opportunities and make professional contacts. This is an important way for everyone, including the 55 plus set, to market themselves and stay current. If you're not doing this yet, find someone who can show you how to set up a professional profile and network online within the site.

Have business cards made for exchanging professional contact information. You need only a simple white card with black lettering that lists your name, credential initials, phone number and email.

Online networking is important, but nothing beats face-to-face networking. So in addition to going to professional association meetings, you need to attend career fairs. See what's coming up in your area at www.Nurse.com/Events/Career-fairs.

You'll find many additional tips and advice on topics including updating your resume, job finding skills and self-marketing in “The ULTIMATE Career Guide for Nurses: Practical Advice for Thriving at Every Stage of Your Career” (www.Nurse.com/CE/7250).

Here are some articles you may find helpful: “How to handle layoffs (Nurse.com/Cardillo/Layoffs), “Midlife makeover” (Nurse.com/Cardillo/Midlife), “Age is a state of mind” (Nurse.com/Cardillo/Stateofmind), and “How to get the most out of attending a career fair” (Nurse.com/Cardillo/Careerfair).

Best wishes,

Donna Cardillo, RN, MA, well-known career guru, is Nurse.com’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.