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What can a nurse with medical billing and coding experience, who has let her RN license expire, do while she works to reactivate the license?

Monday May 12, 2014
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Dear Donna,

I received my BSN in 1977. I worked three years in ICU, two in home health and the next 20 as an office manager for my surgeon husband. I let my nursing license go inactive. I am now divorced and trying to get a nursing job. I have been taking courses on the Nurse.com site, but am only at 30 credits and am wondering if you have any recommendations.

I am 59, still need to work and have medical billing and coding experience.

Needs a Job

Dear Donna replies:

Dear Needs a Job,

Because you have 20 years of medical office and coding and billing experience, I would suggest that you seek that type of employment now while you work on getting your RN license reactivated. The good news is that the ambulatory care setting is hot and growing. That's where care — and related jobs — is moving. And coding and billing experience is desirable. Read “Nursing - A New Paradigm” www.nurse.com/Cardillo/Nursing-A-New-Paradigm, paying particular attention to the information on the patient-centered medical home, population care managers and other ambulatory care settings/specialties.

You can apply for a non-nurse position, letting prospective employers know that you are working on getting your RN license reactivated and would like to move into an RN role when that happens. Search for larger medical practices and contact their recruiters or human resources departmenst.

Use all of your personal and professional contacts to let folks know what you are looking for in a job. Ask for introductions, leads, referrals and recommendations. The vast majority of jobs are found through networking.

Get out to local chapter meetings of the America Academy of Ambulatory Care Nurses (www.aaacn.org) as a guest for the time being. When there's something you want to do, it makes sense to rub elbows with those currently doing it. You never know from where the contact, connection or opportunity will come. Have generic business cards made for yourself with your name, phone number and e-mail address and exchange them with other professional people.

Even with an inactive license, you should be able to find some volunteer work as a nurse while you continue to look for employment. This is another good transitional step, which can lead to paid opportunities. Contact your local public health department, a free clinic, the American Red Cross, hospice agency or other such organization for volunteer work.

You should also attend nursing career fairs. Even though your license is not active yet, you will make good connections at these events and be able to find current or future employment opportunities. These events are a good way to hone your networking and self-marketing skills and test the waters.

To see what's coming up in your area, review the Nurse.com featured career fairs: (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 learn to work such an event to your advantage. Often, you also can pick up some additional CE credits at these events.

You don't mention how many CE credits you need to get your license reactivated and every state is different. If you need to accumulate them more quickly, consider attending a full-day seminar, such as those where you can get many CEs in one day: (http://www.nurse.com/events/ce-seminars).

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.