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As a new LPN , should I take a job as a receptionist in a dental office as a bridge to working in healthcare administration?



Dear Donna,

I am a very confused new grad LPN. I am very interested in being in healthcare administration as a long-term career goal. Since graduating two months ago and having targeted office positions to apply to work around my school schedule, I’ve had two job offers. One for an LPN position had too low of a salary. A second offer for a receptionist position at a dental office is offering the type of salary I need, but I am hesitant to take it because I went to school to be nurse. I have no dental or receptionist experience, but I am wondering if this opportunity could be a huge step in the right direction toward healthcare administration. If I take a job as a receptionist, am I hurting my chances of becoming employed as an LPN in the future? I have heard that the longer you are without a job as a nurse, the less chance you have of being hired as one. This position at the dental office has promising advancement opportunities and I think I would regret not taking it, but I am having a hard time coming to terms with the fact I have spent the last two years working hard to get licensed and could possibly be an LPN working as a receptionist. I am employed, and I am not desperate for a job, but have no clue what I should do here and need some advice.

Very Confused New LPN

Dear Donna replies:

Dear Very Confused New LPN,

It is true that the longer you do not work as a nurse, the harder it will be for you to find a nursing position. Since you are employed and “not desperate” for a job as you mention, why not take a little more time to actively seek something more suitable? I’m not really sure how the receptionist position would be a “huge step” toward healthcare administration unless you see it as an opportunity to learn some of the business side of the dental world. But why not look for something similar in a medical office where, as you say, you can work as a nurse? Just because one medical office didn’t pay well doesn’t mean you won’t be able to find another better paying position.

To ramp up the effectiveness and the reach of your current job search, read “New nurse, new job strategies” ( and “Ten steps to a successful job search” (

Networking is well known to be a great way to find and get a job too. So if there is a chapter of the National Federation of LPNs in your area or a state chapter of the American Nurses Association,, join and get active. You can always attend meetings as a guest if you are not a member. And since you’re looking for an office position, check out your local chapter of the American Academy of Ambulatory Care Nurses

Regarding whether or not to take the dental office receptionist position, only you can make that decision. Here’s an article to help you in the process: “To act or not, it’s your decision” ( Keep in mind that there are no wrong decisions, only different lessons to learn.

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 http://www.

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