Father passed away, New grad hasn't worked yet!

Nurses Job Hunt


Hello to everyone this is my first post.

I graduated with an ADN in may of 2011 at a college here in Michigan, passed NCLEX and received my RN license sometime in August. I am an only child and my mother passed away when I was 14 so it had been just me and my dad ever since. My father had cancer while I was in the nursing program, the cancer progressed and he needed someone to look after him. So after graduation I took care of my father and worked on cleaning and repairing the house (he was a compulsive hoarder). Long story short I didn't go to work yet and my father passed on Easter Sunday.

My questions are;

How difficult will it be in general for me to get a job now that I have been out of school for over a year?

Has anyone on here been in a similar situation (new grad with no experience not working for a year) and still succeeded in nursing?

Should I take a refresher coorifice?

Any advice would be much appreciated. I've been having alot of anxiety about this, being on my own all of a sudden. I'm trying to get alot of work done on the house before I go and start a career. But I am finding myself up at night worrying about not getting a job ( like right now its 130 am). Hoping to start applying in early September. I feel like I'm running out of steam, and need time to grieve but I have so much work to do, not to mention a carreer to start.

Specializes in Med-Surg, Peds, Ortho, LTC and MORE.

I would state in a cover letter that you took care of a family member, doing private duty until the patient passed. You can expand on how this experience used your nursing skills, critical thinking, organizational skills, time management skills.

I offer my sincere condolenses, I too took 7 months to be with my Father (while I was not a new grad, but I use the above to explain a gap in my work history).

I place on my resume private duty/ hospice type care.

Wishing you the best on a great carrer.


Specializes in critical care, Med-Surg.

I am sorry for the loss of your father.

I worked as a nurse for 12 yrs., then left to be stay at home mother. I find myself divorced now, and re-entering the field after a long gap on my resume. I am going to give you some general advice based on my experience. Maybe it will help you. (Hope so).

I took a refresher course. It was great, But if you only graduated a year ago, I really don't think you need it. They are expensive. I think you would fare just as well simply studying your textbooks and brushing up on your own. The refresher course was pretty basic. Darn basic, in fact.

Now I'm going to talk to you a little bit about my experiences with grief.

My father passed away from lung Ca when I was 23 (on the floor where I worked as LPN. So i completely sympathize will what you have been through. As hard as it was, I found that work was a tremendous HELP. It gave my mind something else to focus on. It was a real relief and distraction from the grief. It also held me to a ROUTINE. Helped keep my sleeping and eating patterns more regular. It kept me productive and provided me with a paycheck, and most importantly "kept me out of my own head so much", if you know what I mean. Grief can consume you if you have too much time alone or without enough distraction. Work helps make your life about something besides constant grieving.

Fast forward to my latest grief chapter. Ex had affair, blindsided me w divorce, married much younger mistress immediately after divorce. I have two small children. So I have been grieving again. But this time, without work. SO MUCH HARDER. As you are probably aware, the job market is tough. The application process is different depending on where you apply, but here is my most recent experience.

I completed on line application for hospital THREE months ago! The wheels turn very slowly at this institution/HR.I am having my third interview there on Monday. So, SO FAR, the process has taken three months.

So I would encourage you to begin NOW. Get your references in order. I agree with OP about speaking during interview re: the care you have been giving to family member and how you utilized your skills and what you learned. But please don't let the grass continue to grow. The longer you get from your graduation date, the less competitive you will be.

You will never regret the year you spent caring for your father. But you may regret postponing search for employment.

Best wishes and good luck!

Hi !

Wow it's funny how much you sound like me. My father passed away when I was a sophomore in nursing school and I had two other set backs while in school giving me a grand total of 6 years to get my BSN!! But honestly once I got my cert. in the mail it was all worth it.

I was out of school for like 7 months and sent out 90 yea 90 applications and heard nothing. And I have worked in healthcare as a CNA and as an anesthesia technician in one of the top hospitals in the country. Now I work at a long term/short term rehab skilled nursing facility which I am not happy about. I would love to work in a hospital setting and keep my skills sharp, but where I live in MA the job market is brutal!!!

My best advice: make yourself more marketable. If you are BLS certified, get your ACLS certification. I drove 6+ hours to get certified in IV therapy (they don't teach us in school and in most hospitals around here on med Surg floors, just ER and pre-op :( ). Hope this helps at least a little :).

Best of luck!


Thank you for your advice and I'm sorry to hear about your personal matters. Did you get a response yet from the hospital you applied to? Any luck finding a job elsewhere?

I agree that finding work would greatly help me get my mind focused and help me grieve.


I have begun applying for about a month or so now and included in my cover letter that I cared for my father and that I had PEG tube experience, diabetic care, IV meds, etc. So I took some time in the cover letter to convey that I exercised nussing skills when i took care of my dad. Since I technically wasn't employed my by father I can't really list it as employment history though.


A week ago I completed my ACLS and plan on signing up for my PALS, TNCC, and ENPC courses this week (courses are spread over the next six months though.) I have some IV experience from school actually, in the last 2 semesters of my ADN program they allowed us to give IV meds and start IV's in clinical. Also I gave my father IV meds through his port.

What makes the job market so brutal in MA? At this point for me I will work just about anywhere, I'm not going to lose my house. I have bills to pay and nobody to fall back on but myself.

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