19 Months After Graduation & No Job - Should I take a refresher course?


  • Career Columnist / Author
    Specializes in Tele, ICU, Staff Development. Has 30 years experience.

Hello Nurse Beth,

I graduated from nursing school with my BSN back in May 2014. It's been 19 months and I haven't worked as a nurse yet. I found out I was pregnant shortly before graduation. For what I thought was the best interest of my child, and with directions from my doctor, I tapered off my antidepressant medication. I spent my pregnancy and the first months of my child's life living in a tailspin before I started retaking my medication. It's only recently that I started feeling whole and capable of being the nurse I wanted to be. I worked hard and excelled in school in order to earn my degree and I'm eager to put it to good use.

I'm writing today to ask for some encouragement and also about some practical concerns as I begin my Job Search. With so much time having passed since I obtained my degree, should I take a refresher course in order to be considered for any position? No nurse leaves nursing school knowing everything, but I admittedly remember less now than I did when I walked out of my NCLEX. What is the best way for me to explain to a potential employer the time gap from my graduation? I know well enough not to share my novella, but how can I be honest and still come off as enthusiastic to work? These are the questions that plague my mind as I touch up my resume and dust of my interview blazer. Any advice would be welcome.

Dear Feeling Better,

It sounds like a very rough time, but now you're better and you have a little one to boot! Congrats.

Don't worry too much about having forgotten what you learned. Whether or not taking a refresher course helps you to land a job is debatable. It can't hurt, and it may boost your confidence.

But the most important thing for you to do now is to get a job- that will solve your worries on a couple of different levels. You have to actively and aggressively launch your job search. It will take effort and perseverance, but you can do it. Look at all you've done so far.

You explain an employment gap briefly by saying you had a baby and/or you needed to spend time with your family, and/or you had some medical issues to take care of. Then you segue to the positive by saying these issues are completely resolved now, and that you're ready for an opportunity to start your career at a (wonderful) facility such as theirs.

Best of luck, remember many nurses before you have succeeded in the exact same situation. You can, too.

Nurse Beth



22 Posts

Wow, I was ready to post the exact same message almost to a T. Except add 5 years. I got pregnant shortly before graduation as well. I passed the NCLEX in July and started searching for a job. About 3 weeks after I had him, I landed my first interview, the manager wanted me to start the next week. I stupidly admitted that I needed more time because I'd just had a c-section (I blame it on my hormones). I wish I just said give me 2 weeks to take care of family stuff. I couldn't catch my breath as fast as she practically threw me out of the office. Anyway, I now live in a different state where it is practically impossible to land a nursing job as a new nurse. Fast forward, my son is 5 and I work at an EHR, which affords me a reasonable 9-5 schedule, flexibility to work from home some days and leaving early if I have to pick up my son. I say all that to say, while I regret having my child in school and not starting my passion of bedside nursing, there are ways to get around it. Look up Epic, Cerner, Mckesson, clinical informatics. I still feel like I'm doing something related to the field without sacrificing raising my kid as a single mom. Colleagues try to demean me and say I'm not a 'real' nurse because I was never employed as one, so that hurts and I believe it to be true but they can't take away my accomplishments and my importantly my salary (which is 30k higher than nurses in this city). Hope that helps! In the meantime, keep applying to new grad programs :)


1 Post

Dear geminidiamond

Thank you for the inspiration! I'm struggling to get back into nursing and have no idea where to even start but after reading these incredibly inspiring posts I can at least begin brainstorming.

Has 34 years experience.

You won't really know until you start applying. But give yourself 3 months with a meticulously written resume and apply everywhere. Especially target residency programs. If you don't get any bites consider a refresher and another 3-6 months with an updated resume.