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I was discharged from my job because of a medication error. I've been trying for more than a year to get a job, but this past termination keeps coming up. What can I do?

Wednesday January 2, 2013
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Question:

Dear Donna,

After five years as an RN, I was discharged from my job because of a medication error. There was no mark on my license, just a “not eligible for rehire” status at the hospital where I was employed. This comes up with every job opportunity I have when they contact them for previous employment. I've been trying for more than a year to get a job and have been unsuccessful. I have no idea what to do. Can you help?

Discharged for Medication Error

Dear Donna replies:

Dear Discharged for Medication Error,

It's challenging to respond without knowing all the details. For example, some employers only confirm employment dates. Are you sure your former employer is providing additional information to prospective employers? Are prospective employers telling you what they are receiving, or are you telling them upfront about your situation? Are you getting interviews, but no job offers? Or are you not getting any calls at all? All of that makes a difference in what advice I might give you.

Prospective employers don't generally verify previous employment until after they have interviewed you and are interested. If you're getting interviews and no job offers, try contacting by phone the person who interviewed you or someone in human resources. Ask if there was any problem with your references or past employment records. Tell him or her that it would be helpful for you to know moving forward. You may or may not get an honest answer, but it doesn't hurt to ask.

If you are not getting any responses to your applications, don't assume it is because of your past work history. The hospital job market for nurses is very tight right now and the longer you have been away from the bedside the harder it is to find something.

Read the article “Picking up the pieces of your career” (www.Nurse.com/Cardillo/Pieces). Also read “Coming back from the brink” (http://News.Nurse.com/Article/20081006/DD01/80922004) about another nurse who was fired for making a medication error and how she worked through it.

When what you're doing isn't working, it's time to try a new approach. Focus your job finding efforts more on word of mouth or networking. That involves contacting everyone you know in and out of healthcare and letting them know what you're looking for. Mention what happened at your last job. Networking is a great way to find a job under any circumstances, but especially when you have obstacles to overcome. People are more inclined to hire someone in this type of situation when they have been referred or recommend by someone they know.

Start volunteering in a healthcare setting, as a nurse if possible, while you continue to look for paid employment. Volunteering is a good way to get your foot in the door and expand your professional network. Also, it gives you something to account for the time on a resume and in an interview. Volunteering often leads to paid employment. When you can't get in the front door, try the back.

Best wishes,
Donna


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.