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Can you give me some tips for getting back into the nursing workforce?


Dear Donna,

I was a hospital nurse for most of my career. However, I have not worked for about seven years. I have kept up with my CE and kept my license current. I really didn’t expect to have to go back to work; but with the economy tanking, my husband is kind of pushing me to get a job.

I do not think I am ready to go back into the hospital since I have been gone for so long. At 58, I don’t want to work 12-hour shifts (even if someone was to hire me).

Are there any courses out there to help RNs who have been out of the workforce get more current with new practices? I have gone job hunting in doctors’ offices and even tried to get on with a clinic just to give flu shots. I even practiced my interview skills, but I haven’t received any offers. I am wondering if I should just go into retail or something and forget about nursing.


Dear Donna replies:

Dear Jeannine,

There are many possible reasons why you are not getting hired. I would recommend that you start by giving your self-marketing skills a tune-up. That involves getting your résumé up to date, brushing up on interviewing skills, and sharpening your networking skills. Read “Ten Steps to a Successful Job Search” at All of this is covered in-depth in my latest book, The ULTIMATE Career Guide for Nurses (

You need to get reconnected to your profession and get out there and be visible. This involves attending Nursing Spectrum/NurseWeek Career Fairs , nursing seminars, and professional association meetings. Get out to local meetings of your state nurses association (even as a guest if you are not a member). To find your state nurses association, go to and click on “Constituent Member Association.”

I also recommend that you start volunteering somewhere medical, if necessary, while you look for paid employment. Volunteering is a good way to get your foot in the door somewhere. Additionally, it gives you recent relevant information to discuss on an interview. You can hone old skills, learn new ones, and make valuable contacts. Read “The Value of Volunteering” for more information.

When what you’re doing isn’t working, it’s time to try a new approach. Rather than giving up nursing, use different strategies to get to where you want to go.

My best wishes,

Donna Cardillo, RN, MA, well-known career guru, is Nursing Spectrum/NurseWeek’s “Dear Donna” and author of Your First Year as a Nurse: Making the Transition from Total Novice to Successful Professional and The ULTIMATE Career Guide for Nurses: Practical Advice for Thriving at Every Stage of Your Career. Information about the books is available at and, respectively. To ask Donna your question, go to Find a “Dear Donna” seminar near you: Call (800) 866-0919 or visit

By | 2009-02-06T00:00:00-05:00 February 6th, 2009|Categories: Blogs, Nursing careers and jobs|0 Comments

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