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I was let go from my first RN position after a very short time because I was overwhelmed. Should I still put this job on my resume?



Dear Donna,

I got fired from my first RN job and I am quite devastated. It was supposedly a new graduate training program, but it was not. It was more of a fast-track program designed to turn out ICU staff nurses at record speed. I was expected to start caring for patients on my own in the second week. I felt overwhelmed, scared and anxious. I was never able to remain on track with my workflow. In the beginning, I thought my preceptor was on my side, but she wasn’t. All of my failures and shortcomings were reported to management — all of my successes were minimized and dismissed. After a torturous six weeks, I was terminated. As everyone knows, the current job market is not receptive to new RNs. Since I was there for such a short period of time, should I put it on my resume? If so, how do I answer recruiter questions as to why I was there such a short time?

New RN

Dear Donna replies:

Dear New RN,

First of all, you are not the first new nurse to get off to a rocky start, including being terminated during orientation or shortly thereafter. You will be able to recover from this and move forward. I sincerely believe everything happens for a reason.

As to whether or not to list this position on your resume, that is a tough call. You could go either way because you were most likely a probationary hire and not yet a full-fledged employee. However, some states have laws requiring full disclosure of past employment by nurses and other healthcare professionals at the time of job application or hire. Find out what your state requires.

If you do list it and are asked about it, simply state that it was an “ICU fast track program.” Also say that every nurse is not cut out to work in ICU and that after six weeks, you and the employer mutually agreed this was not a good fit for you. Advise prospective employers that you are more interested in whatever type of work you happen to be applying for, such as outpatient, ambulatory care or long-term care.

If you opt not to list it on your resume or application, just know that sometimes people talk or know other people and it is possible a prospective employer might find out you worked there anyway. This could appear that you were trying to hide something. If confronted about it you could simply say that you didn’t think you needed to list it or mention it because you were only a probationary employee.

It is important to note that any kind of hospital nursing is not for everyone. Many nurses start out in, and make a career working in, public health, outpatient hemodialysis, ambulatory care centers or inpatient rehab (acute or LTC).

Read “New nurse, new job strategies” ( Follow the advice there, including volunteering until you find another paid position and move forward.

Best wishes,


About Author

Donna Cardillo, RN, MA, well-known career guru, is’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 and, respectively. To ask Donna your question, go to Find a “Dear Donna” seminar near you: Call 800-866-0919 or visit

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