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After 32 years, I would like to change career paths. Please advise about programs or seminars on career alternatives, the case management field or office nursing.

Wednesday June 26, 2013
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Dear Donna,

I have 32 years of nursing experience in ICU, PCCU, OR and home health. I have always been active, but recently have slowed down because of a hip replacement. I am four years away from applying for Social Security benefits, but because of economic reasons, I still want to work. I would like to change career paths. Please advise about programs or seminars on career alternatives, the case management field or office nursing.

Too Optimistic

Dear Donna replies:

Dear Too Optimistic,

There's no such thing as being too optimistic. You absolutely have options for the future. The great thing about nursing is that there is something for everyone at every stage of their career.

Presuming you are unemployed or not working full time, start doing some volunteer work as a nurse while you look for the type of paid employment you seek. This is a great way to transition back into the paid nursing workforce while you build your confidence and your physical and emotional stamina. Volunteering helps you to home old skills while learning new ones, gives you recent relevant experience to out on your resume and expands your professional network. Also, volunteering often leads to paid employment. Consider a free clinic, a blood bank, your local public health department or the American Red Cross.

You should join and participate in your state chapter of the American Nurses Association (www.nursingworld.org). This is a great way to get reconnected to your profession, get up-to-date on issues and trends and further expand your network. Networking is known to be a great way to explore options and find a job.

You should be attending nursing career fairs. Often there are nontraditional employers there, as well as agencies that place nurses in nontraditional jobs. See what's coming up in your area at www.Nurse.com/Events/Career-fairs/. You have to put yourself out there because you never know from where the spark, idea, information, contact or opportunity will come.

It would be ideal if you could attend my “Career Alternatives for Nurses” seminar to fully explore your options, identify transferable skills and get your self-marketing and networking skills up-to-date. See where I'll be at www.Nurse.com/Event/CE-seminars/. The program also is available in a home-study version at http://CE.Nurse.com/Professional-Development

In the meantime, use the search feature at Nurse.com to find articles, previous Q&As and more on specialties, such as case management and ambulatory care nursing.

Transitioning is a process, so be patient. Start moving in a positive forward direction with the above recommendations and the right path will eventually reveal itself.

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.