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How should I go about finding a job in nursing when my license is on probation through 2015?

Tuesday November 12, 2013
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Question:

Dear Donna,

I am a RN and have worked in critical care for 19 years. I am a recovering alcoholic, and my license in my state is on probation until 2015. I am compliant with the board requirements and am involved in an advocacy group that works with the state. I recently moved to another state for family reasons and am waiting for my license to be processed.

I have no work restrictions on my consent order for my practice. I have been honest in interviews about my license status and have offered letters from my advocacy group and probation case managers. However, when employers find out, their interest in hiring me ends. I submit to random drug and alcohol screens on a monthly basis and have never had positive screen.

How should I go about finding a job in nursing? I do not care what area I work in. Previously, I was An LPN in ambulatory & critical care, so I have a total of 36 years of nursing experience. This is the first time either of my licenses have been disciplined.

On Probation

Dear Donna replies:

Dear On Probation,

For starters, read “Picking Up the Pieces of Your Career” (www.Nurse.com/Cardillo/Pieces). As the above referenced article indicates, the most effective way to find and get a job, especially when you have obstacles to overcome, is networking.

Networking involves connecting with everyone you know, letting them know what you are looking for and asking for their help and support by making introductions and referrals. Employers are more inclined to take a chance on someone who has been referred or recommended to them by someone they know and trust because such personal references makes it less of a risk for them. To start the process, get on the telephone and contact everyone you know, both in and out of healthcare.

You also should be doing face-to-face networking at career fairs, nursing association meetings, conferences and conventions. You can more easily connect with people in situations like these. You never know where the opportunity, contact or connection will come from, so connecting with many people increases your odds of success.

There are many other options for you in your pursuit of a job. If you have been sober for at least a year, you may be able to find a job as a nurse in a substance abuse setting.

Contact a nursing agency about non-traditional positions. Focus on your great experience, but be up front about your challenges. Sometimes part-time and temp work through an intermediary is a way to ease back into the workforce. And part-time and temp work often leads to full-time regular employment. It is a way to get your foot in the door.

I also would contact various social service agencies such as the American Red Cross and American Heart Association. They have a number of paid positions for nurses and tend to me more accepting of various life challenges. If they do not have any openings or are reluctant to hire you, offer to volunteer there while you continue to look for paid employment. Volunteering is a way to got your foot in the door somewhere, prove yourself at less risk to the employer, expand your professional network, and hone old skills and learn new ones. Volunteering often leads to paid employment.

When what you're doing isn't working, it's time to try a new approach. Take the advice in the above post including reviewing the referenced article and start moving toward your goal.

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.