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What can I do to show potential employers that I can be the nurse they are looking for even though I’ve been fired twice before?



Dear Donna,

I have been having a difficult time getting back into the acute care setting and even the clinic setting after being fired from two jobs. I know that looks very bad, but I feel I have improved my skills in the last year. Still, I continue to be passed up for positions with hospitals and larger healthcare systems. What can I do to show potential employers that I can be the nurse they are looking for?

Having trouble getting back into acute care

Dear Donna replies:

Dear Having trouble getting back into acute care,

I wish I had more information about why you were fired from each job. But there are likely several issues at play here.

For starters, hospitals are downsizing as care is shifting out of the acute care arena and into alternate care settings such as homecare, ambulatory care, alternate inpatient settings, etc. For that reason, most hospitals are hiring nurses only with very current acute-care experience. This is a national trend and can be part of the challenge you are experiencing. Even though you’re not a new nurse, read “New nurse, new job strategies” ( to better understand what is going on and what it takes to stay competitive in today’s job market.

Being fired from two jobs is a hurdle to overcome, but it is surmountable especially if you are doing well in a home health job. Getting over this hurdle depends on how you present the terminations to prospective employers. There is an art to that. I cannot address your case specifically without knowing more details, but you can reference my book “The ULTIMATE Career Guide for Nurses.” In it, I give you detailed instructions on how to deal with various scenarios as far as what to say, etc. To find out more about this book, visit: (

Read the article “Picking up the pieces of your career” ( Pay heed to the advice in that article.

Also, networking is well known to be one of the best ways to find and get a job, especially when you have obstacles to overcome. That means that you have to get yourself out there and be visible. You should be attending career fairs, professional association meetings, such as the American Nurses Association, ( which you can attend as a guest if not a member. Also, start talking one-on-one to other nurses currently working in acute care.

You might also benefit from working with an RN career coach. An RN coach is uniquely qualified to help nurses navigate their way through a changing healthcare job market and to overcome challenges. Find an RN coach by asking around, getting a referral through your state chapter of ANA or by doing an Internet search.

When what you’re doing isn’t working, it’s time to try a new approach. You have lots of suggestions that can help you in the above-referenced articles and books.

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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