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Is Anyone Else Having Trouble Getting Back Into Nursing After Taking Time Off?

Posted

Specializes in Hospice, Adult Med/Surg.

I am getting so frustrated. I have only been out of acute care nursing since late 2004. I took an online RN refresher course earlier this year because we were moving to AZ and it was required for me to get my license there. We ended up right here in Michigan instead, but I am glad I took the course, since I thought it would look good on a resume and it is worth 120 CEUs. However, since beginning to apply for various positions in my area, I am finding that the fact that I have been out of the field for almost five years is a huge stumbling block, or at least that's the feedback that I am getting. I will never regret taking time off to stay home with my kids, but I am so frustrated because I know that I am a good, competent nurse. I have over 10 yrs. of acute, inpatient Med/Surg hospital experience, and I never had one issue with discipline or safety the entire time I was working and always got great performance reviews from my supervisors. I tried long term care a couple of times and it was beyond awful, so I know better than to try that again, because it isn't what I am skilled at or want to do, so I would probably just end up quitting, which wouldn't be fair to my employer.

Is anyone else having this same issue? Can anyone suggest anything that I could do? I took the refresher course, but other than that, I just flat out can't change the fact that I haven't worked in five years. I could go back to school for my BSN, since I already have over 80 college undergrad credits towards it, but we can't afford it right now. I need to get a job with tuition reimbursement first so that I can complete my degree, that's the irony of it.

Jolie, BSN

Specializes in Maternal - Child Health. Has 35 years experience.

I was out of practice for 11 years when Hubby lot his job. We decided to open a business, but needed an income in the meantime, so I began to apply for nursing positions in a wide variety of settings from large teaching hospitals to small community hospitals to community health to offices. I had recently taken a refresher course, which was also required by my state.

I found that the serious responses I got were positions where my "rusty" clinical skills would not be too big of an issue. I was considered for 3 positions out of approximately 15 that I applied for. All of my interviews were non-hospital jobs. I got the position of my first choice and am loving it.

Another factor getting the job I wanted was that I had relevant volunteer experience during my years out of nursing. I had volunteered to do health screenings and education in a school and church setting. Those 2 roles figure heavily in my new job, and that was mentioned as a factor in choosing my resume and interviewing me.

If our business takes off, I will continue in my present position. If it doesn't, I'll need something full time with benefits in the future. By then, I hope that my return to nursing and good work record with my current employer will make me more attractive to an employer seeking a full-time nurse in a hospital setting where the pay would be higher and benefits available.

Good luck to you!

07302003, ASN, RN

Specializes in Tele, Med-Surg, MICU. Has 4 years experience.

The job market is really tight now, new grads are having a horrible time breaking in. The jobs out there aren't great shakes. Hospitals' business is slowing as more and more people lose insurance. That's just what you're facing at this moment in time.

For the last 2 weeks I've been low censused 12/36 hours. That's a 30% reduction in hours!

Are you flexible enough to work midnights? To work in downtown Detroit?

I see a fair amount of homecare jobs posted too.

Just keep at it, I'm sure something will come through for you. It's a lot easier to get a RN with 10+ years prior experience up to speed than a new graduate.

Do you have "success" stories or memorable saves from your years of nursing? Try to incorporate those in an interview or cover letter.

Those of us with jobs are staying put, too.

Best of luck.

Lacie, BSN, RN

Specializes in jack of all trades.

I was out for 10 years and ended up going into Chronic Dialysis just to get my foot back in the door. You may have to kind of "settle" for something just to get through the cracks till you can find something you will be happy doing. I understand your not wanting to end up quiting a job just after returning but beleive me the industry wouldnt think for a minute to cut your hours or job if they needed to make that budget. Sometimes you have to bit the bullet for alittle bit to met the ends.

iluvdetroit

Specializes in Hospice, Adult Med/Surg.

I wouldn't mind working dialysis at all, and there is a dialysis center less than five minutes from my house. I haven't even thought applying there because I just assumed that they would only consider someone with dialysis experience. Maybe I will check it out.

The thing with LTC for me is, I HATE seeing patients not getting the care that they deserve, but when I am the only RN with 30 residents (70 residents when it was my week to cover the assisted living complex attached to the LTC facility), I just can't give good care, and I can't settle for less. Also, I am now 44 yrs. old and when I worked at the LTC facility, I was literally on my feet, up and down that hall, for 8 1/2 hours each shift. I would go home and have charlie horses in every muscle in both of my legs all night when I was trying to sleep. My body honestly could not handle it. At least in acute care, my experience has been that I do get to sit down for periods to chart, take phone orders, or whatever.

iluvdetroit

Specializes in Hospice, Adult Med/Surg.

BTW, yes, I would be happy to work midnights, in fact that's what I am currently looking for, as it is a better fit for my family, and yes, I would be happy to work in downtown Detroit. I started my career in an inner city hospital in Toledo, Ohio and found that I have a special place in my heart for people who are down and out. Most of my experience happens to have been at a suburban hospital with middle and upper class patients, and I enjoyed the indigent people so much more, for whatever reason. Maybe it's because I felt that they needed me more somehow.

I think perserverence and timing are the keys to finding a job in this economy and willingness to accept 'alternative' areas of nursing until the job market turns around again. I found a job after being out 15 years. My refresher program was 10 weeks with clinicals and I'm sure that helped a bit, but I really think it was about not giving up. Also, we were advised to get as many certifications as we can. Any available openings fill up quickly, so apply immediately when you see an opening, be ready to interview immediately and do not have any 'caveats' such as "I cannot work on Tuesdays because of child care", etc.

The job I have is not great, probably not even good in others eyes, but I might end up loving it and I am grateful to be out there with patients again...the odds were so against me getting a job! Plus, once employed, the networking opportunities are great!

Good luck to you!

luv2swim

Specializes in Rehab,Cardiac and PICU. Has 8 years experience.

You sound just like me! I've been out 12 years and just finished a refresher course. All I hear is "at least 1 year current experience" I'm going to try Home Health because there is a need plus this will get me "current." I agree about LTC, I know myself I just cannot take care of that many patients! It sure is frustrating!!!

DogWmn

Specializes in LTC Family Practice.

Yup, and I've been out much longer 18 years but I did have about 14 years experience. I'm an LPN and live Georgia right now and I'm trying to return to nursing because I can't find a job as an admin. Georiga will not allow LPN's to return with a refresher after 10 years out we have to take the whole program over:angryfire (and there is a 2-3 year waiting list and much more costly than any refresher) unlike the RN's in this state who can take a refresher no matter how long they've been out(no offence to RN's btw). I went to school in OR and was licensed there and CO, OH and GA. I was putting together a "nursing resume" and couldn't find my OH license and called the board there to get my info. Well come to find out I could re-instate my license in OH by taking CE's on-line and I did so and I am now licensed in OH but not GA, where I live:o. I'm hoping to take additional online theory thru the Idaho program and move to OH to work for a year or so.

I think finding work right now is tough no matter what. I've been told "refresher" nurses are treated like new grads and they are also having a hard time finding work. I wish you the best of luck and please let us know when you get a job!

Actually, I think new grads may have an easier time of it because they fit in a mold. They just don't know what to do with us "refresher nurses", i.e., training programs, etc., so our resumes get pushed aside. Our value is not recognized. But 10 or 15 years of experience does mean something, no matter how long ago it was. The patients have not changed. My main worry when I started this journey was that patients would not be safe in my care. That attitude changed after my first patient care day. If I could do this, anyone can. Do not give up.

Lacie, BSN, RN

Specializes in jack of all trades.

I wouldn't mind working dialysis at all, and there is a dialysis center less than five minutes from my house. I haven't even thought applying there because I just assumed that they would only consider someone with dialysis experience. Maybe I will check it out.

The thing with LTC for me is, I HATE seeing patients not getting the care that they deserve, but when I am the only RN with 30 residents (70 residents when it was my week to cover the assisted living complex attached to the LTC facility), I just can't give good care, and I can't settle for less. Also, I am now 44 yrs. old and when I worked at the LTC facility, I was literally on my feet, up and down that hall, for 8 1/2 hours each shift. I would go home and have charlie horses in every muscle in both of my legs all night when I was trying to sleep. My body honestly could not handle it. At least in acute care, my experience has been that I do get to sit down for periods to chart, take phone orders, or whatever.

Not sure where you are but check out Davita.com and look under clinics in your yellow pages for other dialysis clinics in your area. The thing is about dialysis it also is a dog eat world with long hours, on your feet for 12-14 hour days. I left for the very reasons you hated about LTC - didnt feel my patients were getting the care they needed and hated the converyor belt mentality of most outpt dialysis clinics. Also gray areas in regard to what PCT's and non-licensed support staff do (even when they arent allowed to by law lol). Also I'm 52 and it was killing me being the only RN in the unit most of the time. Your major dialysis companies usually will train. I know Davita sent me off for a week for training and 3 months (well was much shorter actually) of preceptors. It was how I was able to get my foot back in the door at least. Dont just use the online applications, make a point to go to the clinic and talk with the Manager or Facility administrator.

MSmallwoodRNLNC

Specializes in ER, CCU, M/S, Oncology, Resp.

Heck I quit my job back in April because I had a death in my immediate family...I could barely cope with anything. After being out of work about 3 months I decided I was ready to return to work, but haven't had any success. I have 13 yrs experience and have spent most of my career doing travel and agency, so I have varied experience, but primarily ER. You are not alone in this.

diane227, LPN, RN

Specializes in Management, Emergency, Psych, Med Surg. Has 32 years experience.

I was off direct patient care in upper management for a number of years before I left management and went back to the floor. It was HARD because I had been in the ED forever and I went back to practice in a med surg unit. I had done one year on med surg when I graduated from nursing school 31 years ago. I have been back in med surg for 4 years now and I am STILL looking stuff up. But things are changing every minute in nursing and in medicine. It is hard to keep up with all the new medications and surgical techniques. But the basics have not changed much.

Hi Diane: The fact that you are still looking things up after 31 years means that you care about providing excellent patient care. You must be an outstanding nurse!