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How can an RN with a BSN, who worked for two years in med/surg but has not worked for 22 years, get an new job as a nurse?

Friday May 2, 2014
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Question:

Dear Donna,

I am a RN with a BSN obtained in 1992. I worked on a respiratory med/surg floor for two years. I stayed home with my children, and 22 years later I would like to start my career again. I have taken the required remediation course and clinicals to return to practice. I have active licenses in Florida and New Jersey. I don't have much of a resume and fear no one will hire me. Any suggestions?

Returning After 22 Years

Dear Donna replies:

Dear Returning After 22 Years,

You will be able to get hired again but likely will need to look into new places for employment and use new skills to find those jobs.

Know the entire nursing job market has completely changed in the time you were absent and continues to evolve. Because of those changes it is not likely you will be hired into a hospital bedside care position. But there are plenty of other opportunities in ambulatory and outpatient settings, such as the home. Even though you are not a new nurse, the article “New nurse, new job strategies” (www.Nurse.com/Cardillo/Strategies) will provide strategies as well as opportunities that apply to you.

A good first step is to do volunteer work as a nurse while you continue to seek paid employment. Volunteer opportunities can be found in a free clinic, your local public health department, the American Red Cross, hospice, etc. Volunteering is a great way to hone old skills and learn new ones, build confidence and expand your professional network. It also is a way to gain recent relevant experience to put on your resume and a way to get your foot in the door somewhere. It often leads to paid employment. If you're going to be doing anything hands-on as a nurse, be sure your professional liability insurance is up to date.

You should also join and become active in your state chapter of the American Nurses Association (www.ana.org). This is an excellent way to get reconnected to your profession, become current on trends, information and issues, and further expand your professional network. It is a very effective way to find a job.

Consider contacting some nursing agencies about doing part-time and temporary work in non-traditional settings. This is another good transition step and you never know where it will lead.

Be sure to attend nursing career fairs and conventions in your area. These are great networking venues and you'll be able to get up close and personal with employers, both traditional and non-traditional and agencies. See what's coming up in your area (http://www.nurse.com/events/career-fairs). Read “How to get the most out of attending a career fair” (www.Nurse.com/Cardillo/Career-fair) to help you make the most of the experience.

Transitioning after all these years may take a little time and extra effort so be patient with yourself and the process. Persistence and determination always will win out in the end.

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.

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