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I left my position because the 12-hours shifts were too hard on my family. Now I'm having trouble finding another position. Any advice?

Tuesday January 29, 2013
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Dear Donna,

I am a new nurse with six months of experience on a busy med/surg unit. I am a single mom and 12-hour shifts at the hospital were very tough on my family. So I left the hospital to pursue a schedule more suitable to my situation. I have been searching for a nursing position in ambulatory care, but with only six months of experience, it has been very difficult to find another job. I am working as a telemarketer to pay my bills, but I feel like I'm wasting the hard work and energy it took me to complete the intense accelerated BSN program. I became a nurse because I wanted to make a difference in people's lives and provide a stable life for my family. I did not expect it to be this hard to find a job. Do you have any advice on how I can get back to work as a nurse?

New Nurse

Dear Donna replies:

Dear New Nurse,

Many nurses have started in ambulatory care without ever having any hospital experience. So in spite of what you think or may have heard, hospital experience is not a prerequisite for many positions in ambulatory care.

When what you're doing isn't working, it's time to try a new approach. Contact your local public health department and inquire about working or volunteering at flu clinics, health fairs and other events. Do a few hours a week at a free clinic — again either as a volunteer or a paid employee. Also look for substitute school nursing work. Volunteering or working part time is a great way to get your foot in the door, gain some recent experience and help you expand your professional network. Volunteering often leads to paid employment.

Networking is known to be a great way to find a job. Attend local chapter meetings of the American Academy of Ambulatory Care Nurse (www.aaacn.org), as a guest for now. Do some informational interviewing (www.Nurse.com/Cardillo/Interviewing) with other nurses there. Also attend local meetings of the American Nurses Association (www.nursingworld.org) as a guest.

Here's an article that will give you additional tips and advice for marketing yourself in a new job market, “New nurse, new job strategies” (www.Nurse.com/Cardillo/Strategies).

Persistence and determination will always win.

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.