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Three years ago, I made an incorrect decision. I'm trying to return to my career, but having difficulty finding a position. Should I get some help or just keep looking?

Friday June 14, 2013
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Dear Donna,

Three years ago, I made an incorrect decision to medicate a patient without an order. No harm came to the patient, but I received sanctions from the board of nursing, that included classes and on-the-job supervision. I haven't worked in a medical setting in two years and I have come to realize I have been dealing with caregiver burnout. I am trying to return to my career, but with the sanctions and the time away, I am having difficulty finding a position. Should I find someone to help me or just keep looking? I am not certain how to approach this — I would love to get back to using my God-given gift.

Burnt Out Caregiver

Dear Donna replies:

Dear Burnt Out Caregiver,

You would benefit from the services of an RN career coach. It may be time for you to get a fresh start in nursing on a different specialty path than what you did before, perhaps even outside of the hospital. Care is shifting away from the hospital and that market is very tight for all nurses right now.

After being out for two years and because of what happened, I'm sure your self-esteem took a hit, which would be normal. So you could use some help with that too. Getting back into the job market after the situation you describe will take a little extra skill and a different approach. Find an RN career coach by doing an Internet search for nurse career coach or RN career coach. A nurse coach is best equipped to understand the options available to nurses, as well as our diverse skill set.

This article will help get you started: “Picking up the pieces of your career” (www.Nurse.com/Cardillo/Pieces). Take the steps listed.

Because you are unemployed, I suggest you start volunteering in a healthcare setting while you continue to seek paid employment. Contact the following entities for opportunities: your local public health department, a hospice agency, the American Red Cross and a free clinic. Volunteering is a great way to gain some recent experience, expand your professional network and build confidence. Plus it is a good way to get a foot in the door and often leads to paid employment. If you can't get in the front door, try the back.

Also, you would benefit from attending my “Career Alternatives for Nurses” seminar. You'll get a real boost in terms of self-marketing, overcoming obstacles, learning about current hiring trends and getting specific leads. See where I'll be at www.Nurse.com/Events/CE-seminars. The program also is available in a home study version at http://ce.nurse.com/Professional-Development.

My book “The ULTIMATE Career Guide for Nurses: Practical advice for thriving at every stage of your career” (www.Nurse.com/CE/7250) addresses your situation very specifically, including exactly what to say on an interview.

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.