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Three years ago, shortly after receiving my RN license, I quit my first job after only three months. How do I get back into the nursing profession?

Tuesday August 20, 2013
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Dear Donna,

Three years ago, shortly after receiving my RN license, I quit my first job after only three months. How do I get back into the nursing profession?

Delayed Start

Dear Donna replies:

Dear Delayed Start,

Because of the length of time you've been away from nursing and the limited experience you had as a new graduate, an RN refresher course, complete with preceptor clinical experience, would be in order. Find these courses through your state chapter of the American Nurses Association (www.nursingworld.org), your state board of nursing, or state hospital association. You might also do an Internet search for "RN refresher course in [your home state]."

To get reconnected to your profession, join and participate in your state chapter of the ANA. Go to the ANA website and click on “Find Your State” to locate a chapter in your area. You have to immerse yourself in the community of nursing. Because you are unemployed, you may be eligible for reduced dues. If you itemize deductions on your income taxes, you should be able to deduct this expense as well but check with your accountant. Professional association involvement is one of the best ways to stay current with information and trends. Through that involvement you also can develop a support system and make great contacts. Networking is a great way to find a job.

Start volunteering somewhere healthcare related now while you take your refresher course and look for paid employment. Consider a blood bank, clinic or cancer care center. You might even be able to find paid employment at these facilities. But if not, don’t be discouraged, continue with the above outlined plan and move forward. Volunteering often leads to paid employment. It’s a way to get your foot in the door somewhere, gives you recent experience, builds confidence and expands your professional network. Be sure to have nursing liability insurance if doing anything that involves nursing care or practice, even as a volunteer.

Read my book “The ULTIMATE Career Guide for Nurses: Thriving at Every Stage of Your Career” (www.nurse.com/ce/7250) for additional support and advice. Because the job market for nurses has changed even in the past three years, read “New nurse, new job strategies” (www.Nurse.com/Cardillo/Strategies).

You can definitely do this with a little patience, persistence and determination.

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://www.Nurse.com/Events.