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I am a 59-year-old LPN who would like to return to hands-on nursing and return to school. Do you suggest an associate or bachelor’s degree program?

Monday January 7, 2013
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Dear Donna,

I am a 59-year-old LPN who has not worked in clinical skilled nursing for a year. I would like to return to hands-on nursing and return to school to become an RN. All the schools I have contacted have said the earliest open enrollment is 2014. Do you suggest an associate or bachelor’s degree program?

Wants to Progress to RN

Dear Donna replies:

Dear Wants to Progress to RN,

Regarding furthering your education, go directly for the BSN. The healthcare job market has gotten much more competitive, as have the complexities of healthcare delivery. The BSN has become the minimum standard for nurses, and many employers won’t hire without it.

The clinical job market is very tight right now, but LPNs still are in demand in long-term care, rehabilitation, assisted living and similar long-term care facilities. Make direct contact with area employers.

Attend local career fairs to meet prospective employers face-to-face. See what's coming up in your area at www.Nurse.com/Events/Career-fairs. Read “How to get the most out of attending a career fair” (www.Nurse.com/Cardillo/Career-fair).

Networking is known to be a great way to find a job. You should be attending area nursing association meetings regularly, as a guest if you are not a member. These include the American Nurses Association (www.nursingworld.org) and the National Federation of Licensed Practical Nurses, if they have a chapter in your area (www.nflpn.org). Talk to people there, let them know what you’re looking for and exchange business cards. Employ a similar approach to the one outlined in the career fair article I mentioned.

Because you are out of work, you should look for volunteer opportunities in a healthcare setting, ideally as an LPN, while you continue to look for paid employment. Volunteering is a great way to get your foot in the door, expand your professional network and account for some of the time that you are unemployed. Volunteering often leads to paid employment

Even though you are not a new nurse, you'll find additional job-finding tips in this article: “New nurse, new job strategies” (www.Nurse.com/Cardillo/Strategies).

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://Events.nursingspectrum.com/Seminar.