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Can you please advise me if nursing is for me as I've quit two jobs and was fired from a third in my 6.5-year career?

Wednesday September 18, 2013
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Dear Donna,

I have had three jobs in my 6.5 year nursing career as an RN. Two jobs I quit (circulator OR and periop) and I was fired from the third (rehab). I love nursing, but I have anxiety and uncertainty in the search for a new position. I now question whether I should nurse at all. My patients love me and I have a lot of support, both professional and personal, encouraging me to continue in the nursing field. I do not know what direction to take. Can you please advise me? I am 58 years old.

Needs pointing in the right direction

Dear Donna replies:

Dear Needs pointing in the right direction,

It's challenging to respond without knowing more details about why you quit both jobs and were fired from the third. But clearly you need some help in deciding where to go from here and then getting there. Perhaps direct patient care is not for you. Fortunately, there are many other jobs to do in nursing beyond the bedside. Read “How to find your forte” (www.Nurse.com/Cardillo/Forte).

You probably could benefit from working with a nursing career coach. An RN career coach (as opposed to a non-nurse career coach) typically has an understanding of the unique skill set a nurse possesses along with the vast array of opportunities available. Find such a coach by asking around, getting a referral through your state chapter of the American Nurses Association: www.ana.org (whether or not you are a member) or by doing an Internet search.

You also should get out to nursing career fairs and talk to non-traditional employers exhibiting there (e.g. insurance companies, etc.) as well as agencies who do non-traditional placement. When asked why you are unemployed, you can state you are looking for new challenges and seeking non-clinical options. See what's coming up: http://www.nurse.com/events/career-fairs.

If you can, attend my Career Alternatives for Nurses seminar. Not only will you learn about non-patient care options, you'll also learn to get past the "Why did you leave your last job?" question and more. See where I'll be: http://www.nurse.com/events/ce-seminars. The program also is available in home study version: http://ce.nurse.com/Professional-Development.

Because you are unemployed, you should volunteer somewhere as a nurse while you continue to look for paid employment. Consider a local chapter of the American Red Cross, American Heart Association, a blood bank, your local public health department or a free clinic, just to name a few.

Volunteering is a great way to learn new skills and meet new people and often turns into paid employment. Plus, you'll have recent relevant experience to show while you continue your job search. Read “Picking up the pieces of your career” (www.Nurse.com/Cardillo/Pieces).

You will be able to move past this. Sometimes you have to create momentum by moving in a positive direction even if you're not sure yet where you're headed and see where the road leads you. You never know where the spark, idea, information, opportunity or contact will come from, but you have to get yourself out there.

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.