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I feel that older, more experienced nurses are being let go and replaced with new graduates. Is there some way that we can bring our plight to national attention?

Tuesday April 23, 2013
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Dear Donna,

Two years ago, I lost my job because of a workforce reduction and I have been unable to find a new position. I know that nursing is moving out of the inpatient setting, but every nursing home, hospice or rehabilitation facility I apply to requires experience in that field. I have more than 25 years of hospital med/surg experience, which these employers do not seem interested in. I live in an area that is flooded with nursing students. I was told my hospital position was eliminated, but I know it has been reinstated and they are only hiring new graduates. I am working in a low-paying retail position. How can I get a job outside of inpatient work, if these places disregard my hospital work? What reply can I give when asked why I have you been out of nursing so long? Is there some way that we, as more experienced nurses, can bring our plight to national attention? We are being put out to pasture, and by putting us out of work, hospitals are putting patients at risk.

Being Put Out to Pasture

Dear Donna replies:

Dear Being Put Out to Pasture,

Because of the current oversupply of nurses with recent inpatient experience, those who have been away from direct patient care for as little as six months are in the same boat as you. The job market for nurses is cyclical and will likely change over the next five years. When what you're doing isn't working, it's time to try a new approach.

You need to find a volunteer position as a nurse, while you continue to look for paid employment. This will give you recent experience to put on your resume, help you to hone old skills, learn new ones, and expand your professional network. It also is a way to get a foot in the door. Volunteering often leads to paid employment. Consider your local public health department, hospice, a free clinic and the American Red Cross.

I recommend you look for a position in an outpatient or ambulatory care setting, such as a cancer care center, outpatient hemodialysis facility or a school nurse position.

When employers question why you were away so long, let them know in an even-toned manner that you were laid off and as they probably know, many other facilities were doing the same, making it difficult to find work.

When in a competitive market, you have to be sure your self-marketing skills are up-to-date. Job finding strategies have changed over the years and you have to stay current. Although you are not a new graduate, there are many additional tips in this article “New nurse, new job strategies” (www.Nurse.com/Cardillo/Strategies).

You need to stay connected and do more networking. Networking is known to be a great way to find a job. Attend local chapter meetings of the American Nurses Association (www.nursingworld.org) and the American Academy of Ambulatory Care Nursing (www.aaacn.org) or any other specialty association that interests you. Attend as a guest, if you are not a member.

Also contact nursing agencies about nontraditional options. Some only do hospital or direct patient care placement, but many others have alternative opportunities. This is another great way to gain experience, try out a specialty and get a foot in the door. Agency work, even if part-time or temporary, often leads to full-time regular employment.

Consider attending my “Career Alternatives for Nurses” seminar to fully explore your options, identify transferable skills and get your networking and self-marketing skills up-to-date. See where I'll be at www.Nurse.com/Events/CE-seminars/.

You must look in new directions for employment — learn and use new techniques to find jobs. The times and the nursing job market are changing and you have to change along with them.

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.