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What should I do about a job while I am waiting to take my boards?

Friday May 24, 2013
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Dear Donna,

I am a nurse with eight years experience in med/surg telemetry. I left my position two years ago to finish my master’s and give birth to my second child.

I am waiting to take my nurse practitioner boards, but I am finding it very difficult to find a job in the interim. None of the hospitals will take me as an agency nurse, and there are very few clinical positions.

What should I do about a job while I am waiting to take my boards?


Dear Donna replies:

Dear Waiting,

The job market for nurses is permanently shifting and is very competitive. What that means is that most of us need to look in new directions for employment and need to learn and use new skills to find those jobs. What worked for us in the past won’t work for us going forward.

The following article was written for new nurses, but has current job finding skills for all nurses: “New nurse, new job strategies” (www.Nurse.com/Cardillo/Strategies). As the article indicates, you have to be much more proactive in your job search. That includes attending career fairs, professional association meetings (even as a guest for now if not a member), and doing informational interviewing (www.Nurse.com/Cardillo/Interviewing) with those doing the thing you plan to do (in this case other NPs). Networking is a very effective way to find a job.

One of the things I suggest to any nurse currently unemployed for any reason is to start volunteering as a nurse in a healthcare setting. This is a good way to transition back into the workforce, hone old skills, learn new ones and expand your professional network. Also, it's a good way to get your foot in the door somewhere, as volunteering often leads to paid employment. Try a free or inner-city clinic, the American Red Cross, a blood bank, hospice, a senior health center or your local public health department.

Also contact nursing agencies, but not for bedside positions since that isn’t working out for you. Ask about other types of nursing employment. Some agencies do this and some don’t — so ask around.

When what you’re doing isn't working, it’s time to try a new approach. Start volunteering, do more networking, contact agencies about opportunities beyond the bedside and attend career fairs, association meetings and conferences. You have to get yourself out there and be visible. You have to cast a wide net. You never know where the contact, connection, lead or opportunity will come from.

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.