Second-Career 50-ish RN working LTAC - Anxious about searching for new job
Dear Nurse Beth, I am a second-career RN, 50-ish, about 18 months into my first job. When I graduated, I thought I was poised for success. I was on honor roll, had letters of recommendation, was a strong interview, and great with clinical questions.
I was a leader in my class. My precepting RNs liked me but I did not click with HR. I got a few interviews but all the prestigious new grad jobs went to my young friends. My only job offer was from a notorious LTAC that promised me minimal training, a long commute, and the lowest salary in the county.
The first 6 months were very hard. I would Google procedures on my phone because I did not have access to policies and procedures. My coworkers were too busy to be helpful. Those were hard times but now I stroll into my unit like it is my living room. My boot camp days are long behind me. I know every inch of my unit. Tonight, again, I am the Charge RN due to vacations. I have worked hard to become an asset and I am well-liked and respected.
I am starting to apply to better jobs closer to home and I have some concerns. I think I should omit my advanced non-nursing degree because it flags me as older or sends the wrong message. (My career goal is 20 more years of bedside care, which is my passion.) One online application asked for my high school graduation date, which made me cringe. Is there a way around that?
My biggest worry is the training I do not have. Compared to those who had formal new grad training from a nicer hospital, I suspect my work style is not as sophisticated. Things are pretty fast and loose in my current unit. For example, with our patient load, you have to start your med pass 90 minutes early in order to get everything done, yet the charting indicates that everyone magically got their meds within 20 minutes of their assigned time. I worry that I will not know how to work in a facility that is not constantly cutting corners and short-staffed.
Also, and I know this is petty, I do not want to run into people from school and admit where I have been working all this time. I feel sad and self-conscious when I see on social media how well they all have done, while after nearly two years I am still trying to get in the door.
I try not to worry about things that I have no control over, and my RN career is what it is, but I do feel anxiety about reentering the job market again.
Thank you so much for asking this. This is a very articulate description of ageism in nursing.
What a great loss when employers do not value the life experience and skills older applicants have to offer.
To de-emphasize your age, leave out graduation dates unless it's a required field. Too bad some applications still require high school information for Registered Nursing positions...it's a given and not relevant.
With your adaptive skills, you will most likely succeed in acute care. You will quickly learn the safe work-arounds, how to prioritize, etc.- just like you do now.
Easier said than done, but try not to compare yourself to others. What have you really done the past 18 months? Provided excellent care. Gained respect. Overcome ageism.
Now you just need someone to give you a chance. If it were me, I'd pull out all stops-
apply, apply, apply activate your network, ask for personal references, even consider cold-calling nurse managers.
I really hope you land the job you want- it will be their gain. And Happy New Year!
Jan 10, '17Don't be afraid to go for it. You know how to do your job and what not to do. You will be an asset to any other facility. Emphasize your attention to detail and your desire to increase your experiences and knowledge in a quality facility. Nurses like you are needed. Don't sell yourself short. And don't forget to post when you find that new job so we can all congratulate you!Jan 10, '17I'm so glad you posted this. I am kinda in the same boat...I am 53 and finishing my BSN after working as an HR Director/Employee Health Nurse for many years (I have a BS degree in Mgmt/HR). Pretty nontraditional role and I want to return to more traditional nursing role. I figured that having my BSN would at least help with that. My plan is to get my MSN as quick as I can and teach in some capacity.Jan 10, '17Please do not worry excessively about this. I am a newer NP and I am 56 years old. I went back to school ten years ago for a BSN so I would have been 46. I have been fired, laid off, you name it and it has happened to me. I am in the process of opening my own practice (so no one can fire me again as I reach age 60!) We are very valuable due to our life skills and our listening abilities. Find your own niche and you will be just fine!!!Jan 11, '17OP,
What have we come to when applicants such as yourself state that you have considered not listing your advanced non-nursing degree so as not to be targeted.
This kind of mentality makes me wonder if nursing is really a profession at all or just a default thing to do for many who have no clue what to do with their livesLast edit by Buyer beware on Jan 11, '17 : Reason: wJan 11, '17I can empathize with you very well, as I am approaching 50 & often believe that I am being discriminated against because of my age. The truth is, facilities don't want to hire older nurses as they are looked upon as liabilities----they will be retiring much sooner than a new graduate that is 21 years old, placing a financial burden on the facility. Facilities are pretty transparent when it comes to training---they don't want to spend money on nurses that they think will leave after a year or two, or who do not have a vested interest in staying at that facility (such as an older nurse with "roots" in the community, kids that are in the school system and family that lives in the area). Since facilities are now reimbursed based on patient surveys, they think that younger, prettier faces will get them better surveys & that younger nurses will take on more overtime, fill holes in the schedule & work harder and faster than an older nurse, which is absurd.
Age discrimination is illegal, but practically impossible to prove, unfortunately. And now, since all job applications are online, the chances that you will ever even hear back from places is slim. I wish I had a good answer for you, but I don't. Leaving the dates off your resume is going to raise questions, and will make them suspicious about your age. I would leave off the non-nursing advanced degree, only because it has nothing to do with a nursing position you are applying for. Nowadays, places know that just because someone got their nursing degree within a couple of years doesn't mean that they are 22 years old. So, from the date of graduation fro nursing school, they can't tell how old you are. I have actually taken to being vague on my resume/job applications when it comes to dates. I have even limited my employers to the last 10 years.
It sucks that older people are looked upon like this, since we usually have stronger work ethics than younger people do.Jan 11, '17Get use to ageism. When someone 20 years younger than you is interviewing you for a job, you just intimidated them. If you get the job you will be working with staff that is 30 to 40 years younger than you. If you work in a unit as I did people dislike you, or make fun of you. I had one of the staff ask me to take him to Dennys so he could a discount with my AARP.card. very disrespectful. Then there is the out and out lies. I am 64 years old with a knee and hip displacement when I lean all my weight on that leg, I was accused the terminated for physically and verbally abusing a 20 something male patient. How could I hold someone down in a chair when I can hardly hold myself up. There were witnesses, my co-workers. Sounds bad and almost criminal. The only thing is this incident did not happen. Not even something that looked like that. All because I wanted people to have the same work ethic as myself. Well, here I am again looking for employment. Because of my age it is getting defeating looking for a job and sparse areas to work in. I vent wait to retire in 5 years, I am tired of being treated as a second class citizen. And tired of
People assuming I don't know how to use the computer and too old to learn. Young people have respect for your season ed nursed. If it werent for us you would be working in primitive conditions.can you imagine having 15 surgical patients in a 12 hour shift. I have had it. I lived to tell it.Jan 11, '17It is sad to read about ageism in Nursing. I can relate. Just yesterday I received a rejection letter telling me I did not meet the minimum qualifications for an in home health agency.The ad listed minimum RN 6 months experience with an ADN. I am going to list my qualifications: RN acute care and teaching the last 35 years,, BSN, MSN, certified PACU and Med/Surg.
I am 62 far exceed the minimum job requirement. Considering making a complaint.
Difficult to prove age discrimination still I did ask them in a reply if a PhD was necessary for me. I am going to stay retired and not fuss with stupid people who cannot recognize experience.. Good luck in job search... keep the spirit.... continue to share your life experience.Jan 11, '17I'm sorry you are going through this. I agree to apply everywhere you can. Sometimes it's just luck of the draw. With your experience though that can only help you. Don't feel self-conscious about where you've been working, embrace it, you've worked in a difficult place and are rocking it! It's a good thing! Don't ever worry about what others think, people can be nasty! I just say keep going for it and just remember to use your now real life experiences on how you deal well with situations and under pressure you remain cool, calm, and collected! Good luck!Jan 12, '17PPs are offering terrific advice & insight.
I just wanted to mention to OP - PLEASE do not continue to "cut corners" in the ways you described such as fudging med admin times to make it appear that they were administered within the appropriate time frame. This leaves you open to charges of falsification of patient records (fraud)... which is sufficient for immediate termination if your boss ever wants to do so. Consequences could also include BON actions & OIG sanctions, either of which could potentially be career-ending. Whenever you're in a spot like this, always opt to protect your license rather than your job.
Age-ism is not limited to nursing. A man I know changed careers in his mid 40's from real estate (too unstable) to IT. A little over 4 years ago, he completed his BSC with honors and accolades but was unable to even get a foot in the door despite the "shortage" of qualified IT workers in his area - a situation that large companies are using to justify importing HB1 visa IT workers. He has been told by multiple recruiters and HR reps that IT is a "young man's game"... they simply aren't open to applicants who did not enter the field in their 20's. He's currently working at an distribution center while he continues to apply for IT positions.Last edit by HouTx on Jan 12, '17 : Reason: clarificationJan 12, '17Your situation understandably is causing you to worry and you have some valid concerns...I hear you. I am in my 40s and just finished nursing school and am 6mos into my first nursing job. My advice is to spend some time "reframing" your own personal situation and unique journey in your own mind. Try viewing your accomplishments with pride, put a positive spin on your skills, advanced degree, a first nursing gig that provided an invaluable learning and confidence building experience. View yourself and the maturity you bring to a very complex field as an asset. People respond to confidence, authenticity and a positive attitude, so get out there and shine--let people see what you have to offer.Jan 13, '17I'm 36 and hoping to start an RN program early 2018. However, My goal is to become a NP and after gaining experience open my own clinic to help my community ...any advice on how to prepare for this end goal.
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