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I've been an RN for 33 years and need some advice on how to rehab my nursing career. Where do I start?

Tuesday November 27, 2012
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Dear Donna,

I've been an RN for 33 years and need some advice on how to rehab my nursing career. After a period of illness, I didn’t think I had the stamina to continue doing critical care nursing, which I did for more than 20 years. I switched to nursing home care and was surprised to find that I liked it, but dismayed to find a lot of difficulty fitting in. I am now unemployed and having trouble finding a job. I suspect this is due to multiple issues at work, including having bad habits I've worked to correct, having my confidence shaken by actions appropriate in critical care — but apparently not in a nursing home setting — and a desire to remain in bedside nursing. I realize I need to rehab my career if I hope to find another job. Where do I start?

Career Rehab Needed

Dear Donna replies:

Dear Career Rehab Needed,

It sounds like there are several factors that need to be addressed. You might benefit from working with an RN career coach. Coaches can help you address problems and challenges, explore areas that would work best for you and support you in the job search process. An RN coach is advisable versus a non-nurse coach. This is because a nurse coach has a better understanding of the unique skill set of a nurse as well as (hopefully) the diverse opportunities available. Find a coach by asking around, getting a referral from your state chapter of the American Nurses Association (whether or not you are a member) or do an Internet search for "RN career coach."

Also, I recommend you attend my Career Alternatives for Nurses seminar. See where I'll be at www.Nurse.com/Events/CE-seminars/. The program is also available on CD or DVD, if you can't attend the event (CE.Nurse.com/Professional-Development). It is a complete program to help you identify transferable skills and options, learn to market yourself in the best ways and find effective ways to find jobs.

The book “The ULTIMATE Career Guide for Nurses” is a good "mentor" on paper and takes you through the steps of reinventing yourself and your career. It's an additional resource for you (www.Nurse.com/CE/7250).

Here's an article to get you started, “Give Yourself a Career Makeover” (www.Nurse.com/Cardillo/Makeover).

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.