Hello all. I have read through this message board for hours, laughing, crying, remembering when... I have seen much wisdom here and hope some of you will share it with me. I don't know what to do at this point. I will keep this complex situation as brief as possible. I graduated in 1989 knowing my passion was neonates. In 1990 I settled into a position with a local hospital and worked for over 5 years doing newborn and special care nursery. I loved my job and work family and felt a valuable part of the team. We decided to have our third child in 1995 and I wouldn't have gone anywhere else. When it was time to deliver there were complications. Catastrophic mistakes were made with horrific consequences. I nearly died, nearly ended up losing a leg and did have permanent nerve damage that has taken YEARS to overcome from reflex sympathetic disorder. With a heavy heart I pursued a medmal claim, not thinking I had one the lottery as the defense said but only trying to take care of my family and our future as we had no idea if I would work again. One doc asked "How many one-legged nurses have you seen?" I am still on disability which is 1/2 what I made in 1994. It took 4 years to get to court with many of my former colleagues being dragged along as witnesses who still had to work with the defendant docs. I could go on and on about what happened in court but most of you would not believe it unless you were there and knew the players. In the end the judge dismissed the case on the grounds our expert witness was TOO qualified. This was right after Thanksgiving and I will never forget the judge saying he was happy to tell the jury they could go home because "Christmas had come early". It was devastating. The nastiness, the lying, the sneakiness were unbelievable. The emotional turmoil throughout the process was overwhelming but despite all that and against my husbands objections I tried to return to work at a different hospital in 1998, it lasted 6 months (this was before the "trial"). I had been out for so long, was emotionally raw and attempted to work in a Level III NICU. I was hired PRN but told I could get as much time as I was willing to work. After my 4 week orientation with a preceptor I scheduled myself for 3 to 4 nights a week. As times went by a disturbing pattern was emerging, I was called to stay home or pulled most shifts, often only an hour before I would leave for a 12 hour night shift. Still being expected to complete a huge skills competency book within a certain timeframe. I would call the afternoon before I was scheduled just to get an idea if I needed to prepare to go to work and found out later that on two occasions had been put down as having called in sick when I had only called to see if I was expected to work. It was too stressful and unfair. The headnurse basically said I had to stick with it as is or quit because I needed all the experience I could get to refresh my skills. I quit.
My life is different now. I want to be a nurse again. A local hospital offers NICU internships for returning nurses and I dream of getting in it. What kind of references can I use? I am uncomfortable calling ones from the first hospital it has been almost seven years since I worked with any of them and know nurses from the second hospital never saw what kind of nurse I could be. What they saw was someone emotionally battered and insecure. I am not that way anymore and I so want to return to doing what I love, but how? HELP