Gap in Employment

  1. Hello Nurse Beth,

    I am in my mid-30s and a second career nurse. I worked on the administrative side of healthcare while attending nursing school for my BSN night and weekends for 3 years. I've always wanted to be a nurse and would love to go for an acute care CRNP program eventually. Once I graduated and landed my first job, I loved it and being on the floor in a busy acute care facility. My goal was and deep in my heart is to work in an ER.

    Unfortunately 2 years into becoming an RN I developed some health issues that required a short leave. I thought everything was taken care of with me during my short leave and returned to the floor feeling ok - not wonderful but well enough to work. I was definitely not ok and after a few short weeks back, had to take another leave and unfortunately maxed out my leave at 6 months. I unfortunately was not in a position to return when my leave was exhausted and I had to leave my position.

    I haven't been able to return since and it has been a year and a half since I have physically taken care of a patient and per employment records, I left my last position a year ago. I’ve been dealing with multiple diagnoses including a connective tissue disease so when I return to work I will have some restrictions including no night shifts and no rotating shifts (2 months on days then 2 months on nights, repeat). I may have shift length restrictions and so forth but I am not sure of any other restrictions at this time however my doctors are supportive of my desire to return to work.

    My concern is addressing the gap in employment due to an illness - how much do I discuss in an interview? Do I discuss that the last position had 6 months of leave? With such a gap will my previous experience lose its value (I was a trained charge nurse and in a critical care area) and it will be difficult to find a job? Due to strained finances, I haven't been able to maintain any of my professional memberships so they are listed as membership pending because once I am able to join again I will - could this hurt my application? My license and CMEs are in good standing with my state and I try and read as much as possible to stay current - just concerned as the time continues on and I get further away from having completed any patient care how difficult it will be to get back into the nursing work world - I miss it so much! Thanks for the advice.


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    Dear Gap in Employment,

    Glad you are recovered and ready to go back!

    Just to review the timeline:
    You became an RN three and a half years ago
    You worked for two years
    Took a leave which put you at 2.5 years
    Have not worked for an additional year

    Your last employment on your resume is from when you started until your leave was exhausted. That leaves you with an employment gap
    of one year. One year is explainable, and you are not seen as having lost your skills at one year. Remember plenty of people take medical leaves,
    as well as maternity leaves and baby bonding.

    To explain an employment gap, be honest but positive. "I was experiencing some health issues and have received the treatment I needed. I'm looking forward to returning to practice"
    You don't need to disclose that you were on medical leave for six months.

    It really depends on the facility as to whether they will accommodate your restrictions. If shift work or long shifts will not be the best for you, consider a setting such as pre-op or cath lab, providing taking call will not jeporadize your health. Can you return to your former employer?

    The good news is that you have two years of acute care experience, which is golden. You will qualify for many jobs that require experience, and just be careful picking one that will allow you to remain healthy.

    Best wishes,

    Nurse Beth

    Author, "Your Last Nursing Class: How to Land Your First Nursing Job"...and your next!
    nurse-beth-purple-
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  2. 4 Comments

  3. by   Wolf at the Door
    I understand where you're coming from. I am not sure I would disclose my health issues, jobs will hold that against you. Reality is you are going to have to let bedside go for sure. You may want to focus on clinical work, case management, outpatient surgery (pacu, per op), informatics, insurance work, legal nursing, . My concern with you doing IR or Cath lab is your mobility and inability to stand for long periods. There is a lot of bed and stretcher pushing with IR and Cathlab along with getting people on and off the table.
  4. by   Wolf at the Door
    There are many alternative ways to fill in your employment gap. Disclosing health information whether physical or mental limitation you suffered is not something I advise. Hospitals do not want to hire damaged goods although they like to make money off that person on the flipside.

    In the future try to do agency per diem. No required amount you have to work.
  5. by   feelix
    Quote from Wolf at the Door
    Disclosing health information whether physical or mental limitation you suffered is not something I advise. Hospitals do not want to hire damaged goods although they like to make money off that person on the flipside.

    In the future try to do agency per diem. No required amount you have to work.
    I agree.
    Reinvent your career. Home health is relatively flexible and pays same as hospital. Try that. Learn coding and work from home. Triage nursing is a desk job. Pediatric home health is like private duty. Radiology and special procedures, is another field, however, heavy transfers are involved.
    Believe me, we all have to say goodbye to hospital bedside sooner or later. It might turn out you will be thankfull.
  6. by   Becmg
    Try to get on at a private practice/medical office. Depending on the specialty, you could still get some procedure skills. The work life balance tends to be better. Hours are normally Mon-Fri days with weekend off! In an office setting, you'd learn the insurance side, what's covered, prior authorizations, how to get pts enrolled in assistance programs, etc that would give you experience for case management (if you wanted to go back to the hospitals).


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