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After I graduated and passed the boards, I couldn't find a job. I decided to pursue a RN/BSN degree and then take a refresher course. What do you think about this plan?

Thursday April 25, 2013
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Dear Donna,

I graduated in 2010 and passed the boards, but couldn't find a job. I decided to pursue a RN/BSN degree and then take a refresher course before I finish. For financial reasons, I decided to stay at my non-nursing related job for now. What do you think about this plan? Do you think when I actively look for a job the hiring managers will give me a chance?

Delayed Start

Dear Donna replies:

Dear Delayed Start,

The longer you stay away from nursing altogether after your original education, the harder it will be to assimilate back in relationship to your confidence as well as your marketability. So I will give you some tips and advice.

Pursuing your BSN is a smart thing to do. I also would encourage you to look for volunteer work as a nurse now, even a few hours a week. Consider doing this at a local public health department, free or inner- city clinic or hospice. Volunteering will give you some recent experience to put on your resume, help you hone old skills, learn new ones and expand your professional network. Volunteering often leads to paid employment.

It’s possible you can find some part-time work, such as giving vaccines or flu shots in season or working for a blood bank. Contact some agencies about part-time or temporary opportunities in non-inpatient settings.

When you decide to re-enter the nursing job market full scale, recruiters and managers will want to know what you have been doing since you graduated — whether you could find a job or not. If you have nothing related to nursing or healthcare, volunteer or otherwise, it will not bear well for you even with a refresher course. Also, you will not be treated as a new graduate, and thus not be eligible for a new grad orientation program because you have been out of school for too long.

Keep in mind that you should have nursing liability insurance if you do anything that involves direct care, even in a volunteer role.

I urge you to join and participate in your state chapter of the American Nurses Association (www.nursingworld.org). This is a good way to stay connected to your profession, keep on top of information, issues and trends, create a support system and further expand your professional network. Everything happens through networking including finding a job when the time is right.

Here's an article with some additional advice: “New nurse, new job strategies” (www.Nurse.com/Cardillo/Strategies).

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.