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Is being out of formal nursing 2 years too long to expect to an RN job when I get back to the U.S. from Brazil? I was away caring for aging parents?

Wednesday March 12, 2014
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Queston:

Dear Donna,

I went to one of your Career Alternatives for Nurses seminars about two years ago and found it very informative.

I have been a nurse for 12 years in California. I have worked one year in telemetry, seven years in home health and 2.5 years as a high-risk clinic supervisor.
I have been in Brazil to help my aging parents, but will return to Los Angeles this summer. I have been working in an administrative position in Brazil, making double what nurses do in Brazil.

I would like to know some suggestions to what to say in job interviews as to why I have not been working as a paid nurse for two years? Is two years out of formal nursing too long?

Out of formal nursing

Dear Donna replies:

Dear Out of formal nursing,

The job market for nurses is changing and shifting constantly. Care, and therefore nursing jobs, are shifting out of the hospital into alternate inpatient care settings, such as home- and community-based care. Most hospitals are only hiring nurses with current clinical experience so that would not be the best direction for you.

As you already have non-traditional experience (in home health and a clinic setting) that will serve you well in those areas and others, even with a two-year absence from the nursing workforce. To get up to date with the current situation along with career tips for success in a new market, read one of my latest pieces, “Nursing: A new paradigm” (www.Nurse.com/Cardillo/Nursing-A-New-Paradigm).

I suggest you start making phone calls and connecting by email and social media with any nursing contacts you had before you left the U.S. Get in touch with co-workers, supervisor and other colleagues. Fortunately, the Internet (including LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter) makes it easier than ever to find people even if they have changed jobs.

Once you get back to the U.S., start volunteering as a nurse as soon as possible while you look for paid employment. Explore volunteer opportunities in hospice, a free clinic, the American Red Cross, your local public health department or a local faith-community program. Volunteering is a great way to ease back into the nursing workforce, hone old skills and learn new ones, expand your professional network and gain recent, relevant experience to put on your resume. Volunteering often leads to paid employment; it’s a way to get your foot in the door.

I also suggest when you get back you join and become active in the American Nurses Association\California (www.anacalifornia.org/). This is a good way to get reconnected to your profession, get up to date with information and trends and further expand your network. Networking is a great way to find a job under any circumstances.

Check out area career fairs too (http://www.nurse.com/events/career-fairs). Have business cards made for exchanging contact information with those you meet. Let the world know that this nurse is back and ready for action.

Many nurses are periodically out of the workforce for various reasons. When asked about your absence, you can merely say you had personal obligations that required your full-time attention. But ensure to state that situation is resolved and you are ready and eager to get back to working as an RN. You also can, if you get the chance, assure them that you have stayed current with issues and knowledge through your membership in professional associations, by keeping up with continuing education and through volunteer work even if you just start all of that now.

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.