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What can I do to remain attractive for a potential opportunity after being inactive for a year and a half?

Monday December 10, 2012
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Dear Donna,

I worked on a med/surg unit with a cardiac emphasis for more than three years. I had to relocate and have been inactive for a year and a half. I am concerned about my ability to be attractive for rehire when an opportunity comes along. I have been unsuccessful in locating alternative opportunities that would allow me to meet the employer's and my children's needs. I am a single mom, so I don't have any help. I have an associate degree and am short of the five-year requirement I’ve heard is preferred. What can I do to remain attractive for a potential opportunity or transition out of hospital nursing?

Concerned About Returning to Work

Dear Donna replies:

Dear Concerned About Returning to Work,

It's normal to be somewhat apprehensive about returning to the workforce. But rather than focusing on what you have to offer, you seem to be focusing on your perceived shortcomings and putting up a lot of barriers. I don't know what you mean by the "five-year requirement." If you're implying that employers want five years of clinical experience, that simply isn't the case.

Your biggest challenge seems to be child care issues. If you cannot leave the house for that reason, look for home-based telephone triage, telephone advice line or even telephone case management work with a private company or insurance company. Find these companies by doing an Internet search or by networking with nurses already working in these specialties.

If you can get out of the house, look for a school nurse position. School nursing is very family-friendly in terms of the hours and schedules. You do not need to be certified to get started in this specialty. Check with local school districts, health departments and even some nursing agencies that place nurses in school nurse positions. The latter is a good way to try it out to see if you like it and to gain some relevant experience. You can even offer to do substitute school nursing as a way to get your foot in the door.

Even though you're not a new nurse, this article has many suggestions for networking, seeking nontraditional positions, and staying competitive that may be helpful to you, “New nurse, new job strategies” (www.Nurse.com/Cardillo/Strategies).

Re-entry is a process, so be patient. You have a solid base of clinical experience and have not been out too long. You should be able to find something that suits you, as long as your lack of confidence and self-imposed obstacles don't get in your way. Move forward with confidence and the right path will eventually present itself.

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.