Advice for a New Grad RN After Quitting job/ Orientation after 5 & 1/2 months

  1. Hi Everyone,

    I am looking for advice from experienced RNs and nursing recruiters. I will try to keep this as brief as possible but it's complicated.

    I am an adult male in his 40's, second career, new graduate RN, having graduated in January 2009 with my Associates in nursing with a GPA of 3.65. I passed my NCLEX in February 2009 at 75 questions. I started my dream job in the ICU in March 2009 beginning my 6 months orientation. I worked VERY hard (long story) to get this job and was excited to begin my career as a critical care RN.

    My new grad orientation was very complicated, having several preceptors and then switching to one preceptor after 4 months of hell. My new preceptor was great but I was having a lot of problems with time management and anxiety and feeling overwhelmed all the time. I know this is expected as a new grad but it was truly hell for me and effecting my work. I never argued and always took the criticism graciously and seriously. I was determined to learn to become a good critical care nurse, but I continued to be corrected all the time and told I was not picking up fast enough and that they were concerned if I would be able to work safely on my own after my 6 months orientation.

    I was called into meet with my nursing educator and the nursing director on 2 occasions to discuss their concerns. I told them how much I wanted this and that I was trying very hard but I was aware I was struggling with time management and being overwhelmed. After this last meeting I was told to decide if I wanted to consider resigning as I may fired in the near future if I continued to struggle. Well after hearing that and knowing how miserable I had been the last 5 1/2 months, I decided to resign and protect my nursing license I worked so hard to get.

    I was extremely disappointed that I found myself resigning from my dream job and I was so humiliated that I left that day and never spoke to another person I worked with again. I couldn't even transfer to another job at this hospital over feeling I would always be reminded that "I failed" and I wasn't capable to be a critical care RN.

    It has been 2 months now with no job. I have applied to SEVERAL jobs and even had a couple interviews but when I was asked why I left my first job after 5 1/2 months, I explained it was "bad fit", and that I discovered that critical-care was not for me and that I wanted to experience other environments to learn and grow in. Well, that didn't go over well. I was asked to further explain why I would quit my first job after only 5 months and never completed my orientation? The nurse recruiter was a previous critical-care RN and would not stop asking me to explain why it was a "bad fit". I guess I didn't answer her questions in a way she liked and she really wanted to get me to say I wasn't able to handle it. She said that it was a RED Flag to her that I left my first job so soon in my training. Obviously I didn't get that job.

    So, I decided on my next job application and phone interview with a recruiter to not mention the new grad RN job at all. I thought I would just be a new grad with no experience looking for work like so many of us out there. Well, she asked me why I was still not working after 9 months since I got my RN License. I explained I had traveled some and that I hadn't found the right opportunity yet. Well, she said... "Wood luck to you in your future and we will keep you in our "new grad pile". So that was a bust too.

    So my question is this: Should I mention my 5 1/2 months of ICU training from a prestigious hospital or just leave it off my resume and hope they never find out? I was told to be honest as they could find out, but when I am honest it seems like they think less of me for resigning my first job during orientation and that it's a RED FLAG not to hire me. Well, with so many new grad nurses looking for work I can't afford a red flag these days.

    I know the job market is horrible right now for new grads and it's very depressing especially for me loosing my "dream job". I guess it wasn't meant to be and I am trusting that something better is ahead for me.

    I am still pretty traumatized from the entire experience and still now have sleepless nights and or nightmares about my ICU experience. I sometimes wonder if bedside nursing is for me. I would love to find a clinic job but I know right now I need to take whatever I can and get a year or two of experience.

    I am also looking to complete my BSN and may go back now while I am still looking for work, though I need a job soon as I have a mortgage to pay. I may have to get another kind of job if I can't find a nursing job.

    So does anyone have any job search and interview advice for me? Words of wisdom are also welcome. I feel bad enough on my own so you can save the negative comments for someone else thanks.

    Look forward hearing from you.

    Last edit by Joe V on Apr 3, '18
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    About DonovanRN

    Joined: Nov '09; Posts: 6; Likes: 14
    Registered Nurse (RN); from US
    Specialty: 2 year(s) of experience in Oncology


  3. by   ifyouwereme
    Wow! I'm a new grad too...not a recruiter or experienced nurse, but I must say my first thought was...why didn't he just stick it out 2 more weeks? Then I read your post. I can't imagine the torture you must have felt and my heart goes out to you. I know you did what seemed best for you, and you are still the supreme person you were before this so-called dream job. Just remember, nightmares are dreams too! We have to protect our patients, licenses and OURSELVES! You did just that! Good luck. :redpinkhe
  4. by   DonovanRN
    Thank you for your reply.

    It was pretty horrible and words can't describe truly how bad it was for me. I am still dealing with the effects of this with a therapist. I never thought I would be going through such a hard time and feeling so lost and confused.

    I know time heals everything but right now it still hurts bad.
  5. by   forthebirds
    Sorry to hear about your rough start into nursing. The first year is tough enough, without a *highly* supportive environment the ICU has potential to be a difficult starting point. Don't give up, you worked hard to become a nurse.

    Yes, share the fact that you worked for 5.5 months in the ICU. I believe that type of information is available anyway, especially with more and more hospitals using third party companies for background checks. Don't over explain what happened in an interview, but be forthright about the reason you needed to leave--you weren't ready to be in the ICU yet (regardless if there was more than one reason it didn't work out, those hiring you will not want to hear anything other than you "taking ownership"). This doesn't mean you are never to be ICU material again its just a change in the path to get there.

    Stay strong, try not to let this get you down. Your situation will change and you will find your niche.
    yet another example why new RN's need floor experience first. ICU nor more difficult than renal if you put your mind to it but you have to study at work and at home just like you did the boards. work gets harder once one is an RN since the learning goes on.

    I can't say everyone is the same. I did a year of surgical floor then took an icu course which was challenging but I love to learn...then it was all easy from there. i used to read the PDR for fun so maybe I'm a weirdo.
  7. by   LeLeeFNP
    dont give up on the icu. it sounds like you worked with people that were not supportive and didn't want you to succeed. don't let anyone take your confidence away. keep trying and the right opportunity will come up. eventually someone will respect your honesty.
    Oh...I wouldn't have quit; that was a mistake in my view. I'd ask admin for a lower acuity job. Some just aren't cut out for it. It's happens! I didn't mean to sound rough if I did. We're all human!

    You must write your experience on a resume and if they find out later, they can can you.

    Honesty is always the best policy.
  9. by   SummerGarden
    sorry to hear this happened... another new grad here...

    one point i noticed is the fact that you may have been able to transfer to another non-critical care unit, correct? if so, one of the red flags might be that if the icu was not a fit, why did you not transfer to another unit rather then leave that employer? yes, you wrote that you were humiliated but to a recruiter it may not make sense that you had to leave the employer. of course, as another poster wrote, be sure to mention that the icu was not a good fit because of a reason that shows that you accept ownership, but add that you did not remain at that hospital because of a good reason too. i do not think "humiliation" counts as a good reason to future employers because it sounds like you are too emotional.

    btw, i do not blame you for feeling hurt or humiliated. however, you need to come up with an excuse that makes sense so you sound professional. also join us on the first year after nursing licensure for additional support.
  10. by   StillThinking
    Hopefully you're encouraged by us who are sympathetic to your plight. Please don't be so hard on yourself. There is hope for you and you will survive this disappointment. Whatever happened on your first nursing job experience should be viewed as a learning opportunity and give you the impetus to find an area of nursing where there is a better fit. It is out there. I too am a new nurse and after getting through my orientation with a negative preceptor I am still struggling with time management. It is something all new grads are struggling with. Floor nursing--whatever area (med-surg, ICU, CCU)--is a challenge. Think about all that you learned during those five months. Surely you can put those skills and knowledge to use in another position. Have you considered a job coach or some other human resource type professional who can help you practice what to say when these tough questions are asked during interviews? I believe that honesty is the best policy, although at times it is difficult. I too was having a time getting a job as a new grad and finally asked someone who had been a nurse manager and who had interviewed candidates to teach me how to appropriately respond to interview questions. I realized that I was being too negative and needed to accent my strengths more so that the employer knew that I was confident and could do the job if given the chance to learn. Also, have you tried neighboring counties or cities for employment opportunities? I know someone who drives an hour to work each day because she couldn't get an RN position in her local town because of the influx of new grads. Please believe in yourself and know that you are a great nurse. Like most of us newbies, you just need the proper guidance and mentoring to develop into a skilled nurse. Also, have you considered joining a nurse association, such as your state organization or the ANA? Perhaps by attending their meetings you can network and meet others who may be able to assist you in getting your foot back in the door. You can do it. Please don't give up. Perhaps the organization that you were with will give you another chance. Perhaps try the same hospital but a different unit, or if it is a large organization with multiple satellite facilities, try each of them since you're still in their system as a recent employee.
  11. by   Sirapples
    I would include it. but instead of saying you were a bad fit for the unit, be honest. Tell them that after 5.5 months of icu straight out of nursing school that it was honestly overwhelming. That you tried your best but for safety sake that you didnt feel comfortable continuing as an ICU nurse.

    Then go on and explain that you learned a lot from the orientation, but you understand now that starting off on a med/surg floor is much more appropriate than the high acuity level of an icu fresh from nursing school. Also expain that you constantly had different instructors working with you so you had no real consistancy in the teaching provided.

    gluck. and dont feel bad about not being able to be an icu nurse fresh from school. Ive been a nurse for 5 years and now I feel like I should take the plunge for icu, before this no way at all.

  12. by   DonovanRN
    Thank you Mikeperkins_rn and everyone else who replied.

    I appreciate your feedback and suggestions. I know I will continue to keep my icu experience on my resume and I need to practice my response and be honest but also explain in a positive way how I have grown from this experience and that I feel it will only help me as a med/surg nurse.

    I just hope I can find a job in this market in the Tri-State area... it an't pretty.

    Keep the responses coming... it truly helps.

  13. by   Up2nogood RN
    Quote from CASTLEGATES
    i used to read the PDR for fun so maybe I'm a weirdo.
    OMG I thought I was the only weirdo out here LOL.
    To the OP, I think even though it's a tough situation for you, you can turn it around into postives. What valuable skills did you learn and master, and things you've realized you can improve on. I'm sure you have lots of great examples for future interviews to portray your ICU position in a positive light. Good luck to you I'm sure you'll find a position that's right for you.
  14. by   meluhn
    I am going to disagree with all the other posters and say leave the ICU off your resume. No matter what you say, the interviewer is going to read into it. Nine months is not long to be without a job as a new grad, especially in the current tough job market. You can just say you were taking care of your sick Grandma or something, it doesn't matter. There is no way for them to find out unless you live in a small town where everybody knows everybody elses business.

    I would also like to say you are very brave for even attempting to start out in such a challenging area, where many people do not last long. I know first hand how getting fired can be a shameful experience and a real blow to your confidence. Do not let this be the end of your career! Its like a bike, you just have to get right back on and keep trying. I was fired from my 1st job as an LPN because I had such anxiety when talking to Drs that I couldn't even think straight and used to say some pretty stupid things. They thought I was nuts and one of them, the medical director, went to my DON and told her to fire me. I was totally devastated but you just have to keep going. I have grown as a nurse so much since then (15 years ago), and you will too. Whatever you do, don't allow yourself to wallow in depression.