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How can a seasoned nurse get another job after quitting a relatively new job due to a poor job review and impending termination?

Monday September 30, 2013
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Question:

Dear Donna,

I have 28-years of experience working in coronary, critical and emergency care training. In the last three months, I had an opportunity to work in a specialized medical office with other former tertiary care nurses. My evaluation stated I failed to retain information and lacked a global concept of the flow and function of the office. I removed myself before they got rid of me because I had a strong sense that the two-week ultimatum they gave me was going to be difficult, and they would terminate me anyway. I was in shock to hear that I was that bad as there were no negative comments prior to that. Every comment prior to the evaluation was positive.

I do not have any extra titles attached to my name; I did not finish my APN; I did not even finish my consulting certificate. I am 54, in distress and devastated. I have sent resumes for home-based nursing work. I do not have the financial means to pursue what I started. Every course I took lapsed and was discredited because of limitations. I also am still paying for a $75,000 medical bill that my child incurred.

Devastated

Dear Donna replies:

Dear Devastated,

Clearly you've encountered a bump in the road with your career. It happens to many of us, but don’t let it negate everything else you have done for the past 28 years.

It's natural to focus on the negative when something like this happens and dwell on your perceived shortcomings/failures as you do in the last several sentences of your letter. Read “Picking up the pieces of your career” (www.Nurse.com/Cardillo/Pieces) to learn how to get back on track.

What you need to do now is shift your focus to what you do have to offer and what you do have going for you. Because you are presumably unemployed at this point, it is important for you to do something constructive in nursing while you seek your next position. Contact nursing agencies for part-time and temp work. Volunteer in a healthcare setting such as your local public health department or free clinic. This will give you recent relevant experience to put on your resume and expand your professional network. Volunteering often turns into paid employment.

Get active in your state chapter of the American Nurses Association (www.ana.org) or another specialty association such as the American Academy of Ambulatory Care Nurses (www.aaacn.org). It is through our associations that we create community and support. Plus, networking is well known to be the best way to find and get a job under any circumstances.

Also, use your contacts from previous positions by letting them know you’re looking. Ask for introductions, contacts, leads and recommendations.

It's good that you didn’t stick around to get fired. So when asked why you left your last job, just say that you realized the office setting was not right for you and that you need more of a challenge so you decided to move on and devote full-time efforts to finding your next position. That's all you have to say.

If you really want to get back to school eventually, there is plenty of scholarship money out there for those who apply for them. Where there is a will there is always a way. Read “Master the scholarship game” (www.Nurse.com/Cardillo/Scholarship-Game) for insight on getting scholarships.

You'll get through this. I'm rooting for you!

Best wishes,

Donna


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.