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I am being told that I’m not “fresh” or qualified during job interviews. Do I need to take a refresher course?

Tuesday March 23, 2010
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Dear Donna,

I am having a lot of trouble finding a job as an RN. I am considered a new graduate because I have no experience other than an externship I did in 2007, but I had to take some time off after I graduated school. I passed my boards in November, but when I go on job interviews – I’ve only had two since I passed – I am being told that I’m not “fresh” or qualified. I’m not sure what to do. Should I take a refresher course? I just want to start my nursing career, but I am getting very discouraged.


Dear Donna replies:

Dear Leyna,

Many new nurses need to delay the start to their careers, so you are not alone. Because you finished school several years ago and have not worked in nursing, a refresher course would be in order for you.

In the meantime, start volunteering somewhere medical, ideally in a facility where you would like to work – a hospital, clinic, long-term care facility and so on. Volunteering is a great way to gain experience and contacts. It also will give you some recent relevant experience to put on your resume and discuss during an interview.

Immerse yourself in the community of nursing by joining and attending local meetings of your state chapter of the American Nurses Association (www.ana.org). Most associations have reduced dues for unemployed nurses. Get on a committee, too. You will build a support system, get up to date with knowledge and information, and get connected. Networking is a great way to find and get a job even under challenging circumstances.

I recommend that you read Your First Year as a Nurse: Making the Transition from Total Novice to Successful Professional (www.Nurse.com/ce/7010) and “New Nurse, New Job Strategies” (http://news.nurse.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=200880905001).

Best wishes,

Donna Cardillo, RN, MA, well-known career guru, is Nursing Spectrum/NurseWeek’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://events.nursingspectrum.com/Seminar.