I Don't Have Leprosy- Why Can't I Get a Job?

  1. Dear Nurse Beth,

    I can't find a nursing job. I have been a nurse since 1983. I have applied to over 200 hundred jobs since 2013 when I got my Masters degree. I have interviews and have traveled up for 4 hour one way for an interview. I am willing to relocate for my dream job. I have had my resume professionally reviewed twice and have practiced and practiced interviewing, with myself, with other, written down questions, written down answers, sent thank you letters.have applied for entry level up to management.

    The only job available is home care and I have done that and do not want to do it anymore. I want a hospital job. I have networked and asked about openings. I keep current with 2-3 ceus per week. I am certified in gerontology, have my resumes posted on different sites. The crux is that I am 57 and overweight so I can't work 12 hour shifts at a fast pace. I am currently working in an office that is not healthcare related. When I apply for jobs I write my cover letter and update my resume to reflect the needs of the position. I do not have leprosy.



    Dear Can't Get a Job,

    You are an RN with a Master's degree and experience. The missing piece of the puzzle here is your work history and type of experience. You do not say what nursing experience you have other than Home Health. If you are currently employed in a non-healthcare job, employers viewing your resume will want to know what your last nursing jobs were, why you left, and how long you were there.

    You may want to consider options other than acute care. There are work from home jobs out there that are worth pursuing.

    You are 57 and yes, there is age discrimination in nursing. At the same time, you are landing interviews so your resume is working for you- but you are not "sealing the deal" in your interviews. You may need to prepare in a different way. Here's an excerpt from my book:
    To prepare your examples, anticipate characteristics the employer will be looking for. Their questions will be designed to test for those characteristics. For example, you could reasonably expect that an RN employer may want to know about your

    • Personal ethics and insight: "Tell us about a time when you made a critical mistake at work."
    • Customer service: "Give us an example of a time when you went above and beyond in customer service."
    • Conflict Management: "Describe a conflict with a coworker, and how you resolved it."
    • Flexibility: "Tell me about a time you had to adjust to a change at work"
    • Now, think back. Recall a concrete example of going above and beyond in customer service. Think of a time when you made a serious mistake, disagreed with a supervisor, faced an ethical dilemma, and so on. As you think back, more examples will come to mind.
    • Be sure to include at least one example of how you benefited a former employer through your customer service skills, as patient satisfaction is high on the radar in hospitals right now.
    • Your examples can come from school, work or life experience, because what they all have in common is you. You and your behavior. Behavior that illustrates the characteristics they are looking for in a candidate. Here's how to do this...


    Best wishes,

    Nurse Beth



    Author, "Your Last Nursing Class: How to Land Your First Nursing Job"...and your next!






    Last edit by tnbutterfly on Feb 16
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    About Nurse Beth, MSN, RN

    Joined: Mar '07; Posts: 1,415; Likes: 4,222

    44 Comments

  3. by   Forest2
    All of these ideas have merit but have not worked for me. I have prepared every which way that one can think of and still have not been successful. However, I do want to thank you for your input.
    My experience over 34 years of nursing includes acute care, long term care, home care, and administration(which included QI, IC, recruitment and training amongst the many other things I was solely responsible for). As you can see I am highly skilled and educated and there isn't anything I cannot do if a hospital is willing to do some orientation.

    In the end I will remain out of nursing as I am unwanted by my own profession. That is my story.

    Personally, I would hire an experienced baby boomer nurse over a millennial for many reasons. Studies on nurse retention make those reasons evident. Sadly, due to the lack of funding allocated to nursing departments for salaries nurses will continue to work at breakneck paces, face burn out and suffer physical and mental health issues. Meanwhile excellent and dependable staff are available but are being forced out to pasture. It isn't the lack of nurses, it is the lack of money to hire more nurses. Sound depressing? It is.
  4. by   Oldmahubbard
    You have an impressive resume, an MSN, and extensive experience in many facets of nursing. At least on paper, you have "risen above" the bedside. You mention several non-clinical RN roles.

    You admit you are overweight, and at 57, you can no longer do fast paced inpatient 12 hour shifts. Yet this is the only job you considerable acceptable.

    I am shaking my head, but when was the last time you did inpatient work?

    What was the focus of your MSN?

    And how long has it been since you have done health care work? Why did you leave that position?

    Your story does not add up to me, and I think it does not add up to employers.

    Age discrimination exists, but there is a difference between age discrimination, and an implausible career trajectory.

    You would be better off working in HH, and trying to get a different nursing job from there.
  5. by   caliotter3
    If you are 57 and overweight you already understand why you can't get a job. It has nothing to do with leprosy.
  6. by   Oldmahubbard
    Quote from caliotter3
    If you are 57 and overweight you already understand why you can't get a job. It has nothing to do with leprosy.
    Hehe, well, I am 56 and overweight, and I have an excellent job as an NP. Which I can physically do, no problem. No 12 hour shifts on my feet, which I could not do. I couldn't have done it 20 years ago.

    My resume makes sense, it adds up. I have been with the same company for 9 years.

    So it isn't the age and the weight, it is the unrealistic expectations, the lack of career focus, and the type of job she wants.
  7. by   phalanx
    If you can't hack 12 hour shifts and that's all that hospitals have...I don't really see the mystery? I bet you could get a job as a staff nurse in LTC any day, and those are usually 8 hours so it's less on your feet on a daily basis...but expecting the hospital to change their needs for you doesn't seem realistic.
  8. by   vampiregirl
    What specifically is desirable for you about a hospital job?

    I worked for a hospital but not in the hospital itself. I don't miss many things about that job.

    I am currently employed in an inpatient hospice facility. I'm able to provide the quality of patient care I want and there is enough acuity to challenge me. I didn't "fit" in at the hospital job. I'm a good "fit" where I work now.

    My point being is that maybe if you look at what type of work you enjoy that you can look for jobs outside the hospital that meet those criteria. There are many jobs outside the hospital itself... psych, dialysis, hospice, rehab, LTACH, birthing centers and I'm sure many more opportunities.

    Good luck in your search.
  9. by   inthecosmos
    Quote from Forest2
    Personally, I would hire an experienced baby boomer nurse over a millennial for many reasons. Meanwhile excellent and dependable staff are available but are being forced out to pasture.
    Some of your problem may lie here. Mentioning, in any capacity, your discontent with millennial nurses singles you out as a poor candidate. While your experience and education is impressive, your thoughts and views on nurses younger than you is toxic. Companies are going to expect you to get along with new staff and be able to work alongside nurses of varying experiences.

    I'm a "millennial nurse" who is competent, dependable, and educated.

    Changing your attitude may be the change you need.

    Additionally, the VA hires for 10 hour shifts, not sure if that's much better for your condition, but it may help in your search.
    Last edit by inthecosmos on Feb 17 : Reason: Additional statement
  10. by   db2xs
    Quote from Forest2
    Personally, I would hire an experienced baby boomer nurse over a millennial for many reasons.
    With all due respect, I consider this comment to be rude, unsubstantiated, and discriminatory. Who says that a Boomer makes a better nurse than a Millennial? First, it is unacceptable to imply this. This is like saying women make better nurses than men, or that doctors are smarter than nurses. I am interested in seeing the evidence that backs this statement, as you claim that there is evidence. Second, the oldest Millennial is in their late 30s (Millennials were both between 1980 and 1995). If the Millennial started nursing school when they were 18, 20 years old, they could feasibly have almost 20 years' experience in nursing. That sounds like a lot of experience to me.

    Although the OP lists some of her job experiences, we the readers don't know what sort of jobs she's applying for now. Maybe the hiring managers think she's overly qualified. Maybe they think she won't be able to hack it physically (OP stated she is overweight and unable to work at a fast pace). Maybe they think she's too old, as unfortunate as this sounds. We just don't know. We don't have enough details.

    I hear the frustration in both the OP's and Forest2's words about being passed by for jobs, especially with all the experience that they have. I wish ageism didn't exist but it does. I also wish there were a solution to ageism but I don't have one. The world cannot be our oyster forever. I think Nurse Beth gives some good advice to the OP about considering other options other than acute care.

    Btw, if it matters, I'm a Gen-Xer.
  11. by   ~♪♫ in my ♥~
    Here's the thing about age...

    It's not the number of hours on the airframe, it's how much maintenance and modernization has been done.

    I am a solid 53 and yet people routinely think I'm much younger... not because of my body but because of my ATTITUDE. Not only do I embrace change, I actively push for change and improvement. While many of may age-peers still pine for paper and are minimally competent with EMR, I push the boundaries of what we can do with it. When new technology or methods are deployed, I am the first to embrace it and seek to deploy it early. I actively keep my energy level up while I'm at work, despite the fact that I take catnaps at lunch rather than eating. I continue to actively study a second language and use it as much as possible. I treat the young 'uns and newbies as welcome colleagues. I adopt speech patterns which I hear emanating from the millennials and the Xers. I solicit feedback and criticism and sincerely try to make changes off of it. I strive to daily break off the rust and break out of habit and pattern.

    Just because I am old enough to have watched live while Apollo 11 landed on the moon doesn't mean that I am not an enthusiastic adopter of technology, that I don't push myself as hard as I can, that I am stuck in my ways and resistant to change. I imagine that that is why I have yet to have difficulty finding new jobs, most recently at the age of 52.

    Ageism exists, yes, but the aged also contribute to and reinforce some of the negative stereotypes with which we are labeled.
  12. by   DestineeRN,BSN
    Sorry to hear your troubles in finding employment. Have you considered case management for a hospital? Also, maybe consider OR. It takes a lot of training, but very suitable for nurses who cant do 12hours. I'm not sure where you have been applying, but if you apply in a high shortage area, I'm sure that you may find better opportunities there. Another option is contacting a nurse recruiting agency, especially since you are willing to relocate. You may even be able to get a sign on bonus in the process. Good luck!
  13. by   TriciaJ
    Quote from inthecosmos
    Some of your problem may lie here. Mentioning, in any capacity, your discontent with millennial nurses singles you out as a poor candidate. While your experience and education is impressive, your thoughts and views on nurses younger than you is toxic. Companies are going to expect you to get along with new staff and be able to work alongside nurses of varying experiences.

    I'm a "millennial nurse" who is competent, dependable, and educated.

    Changing your attitude may be the change you need.

    Additionally, the VA hires for 10 hour shifts, not sure if that's much better for your condition, but it may help in your search.
    When you preface something with "Personally..." it generally means you don't plan to express that thought in a job interview. I think this poster just means it's usually a good policy to hire experienced vs inexperienced. Today's millennials will be tomorrow's oldsters pushed out to pasture in favour of the fresh, young, less-expensive nurses.
  14. by   FullGlass
    There are plenty of RNs who are overweight and in their 50s and even 60s. However, they are also able to handle the physical demands of nursing. Someone who is overweight and over 50 can still be strong and fit.

    You are getting interviews, so that means you have a good resume and an effective job search strategy. It appears your issue is with what happens in the interview. Maybe you need coaching on how to interview. The other possibility is that you do not look like you can handle the physical demands of the job and you stated you can't work a fast-paced 12 hour shift. Your appearance and making a comment like that are going to give a prospective employer pause and they will pass you over in favor of a qualified, healthy candidate. You also don't say how overweight you are - if you are morbidly obese, then you need to lose weight. And if you can't handle the physical demands of nursing, then start exercising until you can!

    I'm 57 and overweight, yet I am also physically strong and have no problems handling the physical demands of being an RN or NP. Before I started nursing school at age 53, I cared for my mother and could physically lift her into the air and she weighed 120 pounds. I'm not talking transfering, I mean picking her up.

    There are nursing jobs like case management or claims review that don't require any physical fitness, so look into those. Clinical research is another possibility. And for your own health, start a reasonable diet and exercise program.


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