59 and No Longer Safe

  1. Dear Nurse Beth,

    I am 59 year old RN with 39 years experience in ICU, occupational health nursing, home health, and case management. In the last year, I have been fired twice and recently asked to leave another position. I'm told I am no longer safe to provide bedside care. I am physically healthy, just a slower physically and not as good at multi-tasking, etc. I still need to work. What kind of specialty do you recommend?

    Dear No Longer Safe,

    I'm sorry you are going through this, I can't imagine how difficult it must be.

    You are framing this as a job fit problem, but it could be an aptitude/health problem. Before you move on to your fourth job, take a step back and re-evaluate.

    Losing three jobs in one year means you are unable to meet minimum performance expectations. Many nurses leave the bedside by choice at your age, but don't necessarily lose their skills suddenly or quickly lose three jobs in a row.

    First I would get a complete physical and explain to your provider you have difficulty multi-tasking and any other cognitive changes. Do you have memory loss? Are you slow to process and prioritize?

    There are non-bedside nursing positions that are far less intense than bedside nursing. Register on Indeed.com and look for case management positions with insurance companies, or wellness coaching. Telephonic nursing is another option. These allow you to concentrate one thing at a time.

    Best wishes and keep us posted.
    Nurse Beth

    Author, "Your Last Nursing Class: How to Land Your First Nursing Job"...and your next!
    Last edit by Nurse Beth on Aug 22
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    About Nurse Beth, MSN, RN

    Joined: Mar '07; Posts: 1,574; Likes: 4,733
    Nursing Professional Development Specialist; from CA , US
    Specialty: Med Surg, Tele, ICU, Ortho


  3. by   DallasRN
    I am so sorry to hear your story. I don't have any advice beyond Nurse Beth's excellent advice but thought I would let you know I can certainly empathize. Age discrimination is alive and well. I'm a few years older than you but like you, years and years of varied experience. Several weeks back after interviewing for a job I knew would never be a good fit, I sent the Executive Director a very nice e-mail thanking him for his time but stating I felt he would be able to find someone better qualified for the position. In the meantime, I have a friend working in that facility but he did not know we were friends. He was overheard saying, "I would never hire anyone as old as her". Demoralizing.
    After you get your health checked out, do consider telephonic nursing. I did that several years back and thoroughly enjoyed it. I really think you can sometimes make a greater impact on a person's life and health over the phone than you can in the hurried hospital environment.
    Best of luck!!
  4. by   feelix
    See if there are any nurse surveyor positions open with your state. You can work for the state performing accreditation surveys. Does not pay a lot, but quite comfortable with state retirement benefits if your state has them.
  5. by   JenMH88RN
    School nursing, maybe??? That seems like a slower paced position
  6. by   KatiejonD
    Politely submitted: School Nursing would not be a good option. You would be the sole medical professional for hundreds of kids, some with very complicated medical conditions. I was a School Nurse and initially assumed it would be a fairly easy job that matched the pay. I soon discovered that it was the most responsibility that I had ever had as an RN. In four and a half years, I faced about three life-and-death situations, without any assistance. These are people's children - it's simply not the job for someone who may be struggling with competency. Again - this is meant with respect to the OP ("No Longer Safe"), as well as JenMH88RN.