How can I find a job where I fit in?

Dear Nurse Beth Advice Column - The following letter submitted anonymously in search for answers. Join the conversation! Nurses Nurse Beth Nursing Q/A



I'm having a hard time finding an RN position that I fit into. I've had my license since 2017 and have my ADN. My first job was in acute care on a Tele unit. I only made it a few shifts after orientation before I was pushed by management to resign. I felt that I did not retain any information from my preceptor and when it came time to be on my own, I was paralyzed with anxiety and could not preform. (Looking back, If I were the manager, I would not had let me stay in that position either, huge liability and a danger to patients.) Got myself some help with anxiety, it's a little better... After I left that position, it took me a year to gain enough confidence to want to jump back into nursing. A family member invited me to work for a hospice for which she was an office manager for. It was a complete disaster. The nurse manager was never present, most of the patients didn't even qualify for hospice, I had ZERO training, in fact, my first day working, I was sent to see a patient who ended up passing during my visit and my family member/office manager, who has no medical title or background, had to walk me through on what to do. I should have ran for the hills, but, being so green, I stuck it out for a year. After gaining some sense, I left the hospice position and started working at an LTAC. I didn't completely hate working there, I felt that I was very good at my job, I truly learned a lot, but the facility itself was very sub par and held no standard of care. It took my three years to realize that I could do better I then started a position on a med-surg unit in an acute care community hospital. I dreaded every single shift, I felt inadequate compared to my peers, couldn't mentally handle the patient-to-nurse abuse, nursing supervisors were always on the floor making up for inadequate staffing... blah blah blah...I always wanted to quit but never did anything about it. Then my husband and I became pregnant and I left for maternity leave after only being there for just over a year. After having my baby, I was hit with incredibly bad postpartum depression and anxiety and ended up resigning instead of returning to work My manager was supportive and invited me to come back when I felt ready. I've been home now for a year. I finally feel ready to go back into the workforce but do not want to go back to my last position. I want to love my job, I want to feel confident. I don't feel that I'm fit for a fast paced, unpredictable, or high-stress environment. And I definitely don't want to keep jumping from job to job. How can I find where I fit in?

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Specializes in Tele, ICU, Staff Development.

Finding the right nursing position that aligns with your strengths and preferences and provides the desired work environment is crucial for your professional satisfaction and personal well-being, especially after experiencing a series of job disappointments.

You don't need a job that increases stress and threatens your well-being.  With a baby at home now (congratulations!), your job also has to fit with your new responsibilities.

Take your time before accepting your next job. As a former hiring manager, I don't see you as a job hopper as much as you may think. You probably tried to stick it out longer than many would have. Acute care may not be a good fit for you, but there are many other roles outside of acute care.

However, not having a bachelor's degree limits your options. ADNs typically are prepared for direct patient care, whereas BSNs have their pick of more roles. Cons der getting your bachelor's degree. It's an investment in yourself, your family, your future, and your career.

Given your experiences and the specific conditions you've mentioned, here are some steps to help you identify a nursing position where you can thrive:

Self-Assessment and Reflection

  • Identify your strengths and preferences.
  • Reflect on what aspects of your past roles you enjoyed and excelled at.
  • Consider the environments where you felt most comfortable and least stressed.
  • Make a list of your clinical and non-clinical skills.
  • Identify areas where you feel confident and areas where you might need further training or support.

Explore Different Nursing Roles

  • Clinic or ambulatory care. These settings often have regular hours, less acute patient needs, and a more predictable environment.
  • School nursing. Working in a school setting can provide a stable schedule and involves dealing with less critical health issues.
  • Public health nursing. This involves community-based work, health education, and preventive care, often focusing on managing chronic conditions.
  • Case management. This role involves coordinating patient care, often remotely, which can be less stressful and more predictable.
  • Nurse Educator. If you enjoy teaching and mentoring, consider a career in nursing education, either in academic settings or as a clinical educator in healthcare facilities.
  • Occupational health nursing. This involves providing care in workplace settings, focusing on employee health and safety.
  • Quality improvement. Working on projects to improve patient care and hospital processes can be fulfilling and less stressful.
  • Informatics. If you are interested in technology, nursing informatics combines nursing with IT to improve healthcare data management and patient care.

Practical Steps to Take

  • Update your resume and cover letter.
  • Highlight your strengths, diverse experiences, and any additional skills you've acquired.
  • Focus on roles and responsibilities that align with the positions you seek.


Reach out to former colleagues, nursing school peers, and professional associations.

Consider joining local nursing groups or online forums to learn about potential job opportunities.

Professional Development

  • Take courses or attend workshops to build skills in areas where you feel less confident.
  • Get your Bachelor's degree.

Job Search

  • Use job search engines, hospital websites, and professional nursing organizations to find job postings.
  • Apply for positions that match your desired work environment and role preferences.

Interview Preparation

Be prepared to discuss your previous experiences, focusing on what you learned and how you overcame challenges. Employers will understand maternity leave.

Highlight your commitment to finding a long-term position where you can grow and contribute positively.

Therapy or Counseling

Continue to address any residual anxiety or postpartum depression with a mental health professional to ensure you're fully supported as you re-enter the workforce.

Your self-confidence may be shaky, possibly stemming from your early days, but you gained valuable experience at LTAC. You're no longer the new grad you once were; you are now a reliable, experienced practitioner.

Final Thoughts

Transitioning back into the workforce after a challenging period and with specific preferences requires careful planning and a focus on self-care. By identifying roles that align with your strengths and desired work environment and seeking support where needed, you can find a nursing position where you feel confident, valued, and satisfied.

Best wishes,

Nurse Beth