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I am 61 and chronically ill, but feel I could be an asset somewhere in a nursing capacity. How do I find a postion that fits my situation?

Thursday September 13, 2012
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Dear Donna,

I am 61 and chronically ill with multiple incurable conditions. I am in excruciating pain daily and haven't worked for several years. The last position I held was in education, primarily OB/GYN and birthing and infant care. I need help finding a nursing position that fits my situation. I am extremely physically challenged, but am bright and feel I could be an asset somewhere in a nursing capacity.

Disabled Nurse

Dear Donna replies:

Dear Disabled Nurse,

Presuming you can use a computer (voice-activated software and other adaptive devices are available) and a telephone, there are a variety of things you may be able to do from home.

Because you have education experience in the maternal-child arena, I suggest you contact related agencies in your area. Contact entities such as Planned Parenthood and pregnancy hotlines. Look into doing telephone counseling, creating or updating education materials for print or online, writing articles for their websites, blogging, etc.

Also contact your local chapter of the American Association of Legal Nurse Consultants (www.aalnc.org). Because so many lawsuits involve maternal child issues, you can make yourself available as a subcontractor on related or other cases.

Contact some area universities with nursing degree programs. Contact their departments of nursing and offer to assist with any ongoing nursing research.

Social service agencies, such as the American Heart Association and the American Red Cross, have opportunities for nurses to do work at home with a phone and computer.

If you can't find paid work right away, start in a volunteer role (presuming you have been given the OK from your primary care provider and disability counselor, if applicable). Volunteering is a great way to put your knowledge and skills to use, expand your professional network and learn new skills. Volunteering often leads to paid employment. It's a way to get your foot in the door, figuratively speaking.

These are only a few possibilities. The more phone calls you make and the more you get the word out about what you are looking for, the greater your chances of finding something suitable.

Check out www.exceptionalnurse.com, a site dedicated to help and support nurses who have disabilities.

When you make any networking contacts or contact prospective employers or clients, don't focus on your disabilities at all. Focus on all of your great experience and credentials and on what you can do, not what you can't. Tell them you are looking for something you can do from home on your own time.

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.