I am a new LPN grad; I graduated in September 2008. I have had some bad experiences. To make a long story short, I was forced to resign from the nursing home job after six weeks of employment. I never made a med error. They said I was too slow. I found out later that it was usual practice for the nurses to chart that meds were given when they were not. At my next job, I made a med error because a patient said he was someone he was not. I should have checked the patients armband. It was my fault, and I realize this. No harm was done to the patient, by the way. Now I’m having trouble finding a job. I feel that my resume is toxic. Do you have any advice?
Dear Donna replies:
While some nurses get off to a rocky start, I have some concerns about your practice too. You seem to want to blame others for your challenges and mistakes, and this will lead you down a dangerous road.
You say you were let go from your first job because you were too slow. You then make statements about alleged illegible, unethical and unsafe practices by the staff, which has no bearing on your situation. You seem to be looking to discredit them so you disregard what happened.
You then make a very serious error one that could have harmed or killed your patient by giving the wrong med to the wrong patient because you, and you alone, did not properly check ID. And even though you admit your mistake, your note that the patient said he was someone he was not is an attempt to place at least part of the blame elsewhere. Safe medication administration is a fundamental and foundational principle of good, safe nursing practice.
You (and your patient) are fortunate that no harm came to him, and I hope you have learned a hard lesson. But it sounds like you need to start slow and get a tremendous amount of help and support to get your career on track.
For starters, I urge you to join the National Federation of LPNs (www.nflpn.org) and get active in your local chapter if one exists in your geographic area. You need to tap into a professional networking of colleagues for ongoing learning and support. This is vital to your success. And while some state chapters of the American Nurses Association require one to have an RN for membership, some have LPN coalitions or sub-groups so see what your state chapter of the ANA has to offer. Go to www.ana.org and click on Constituent Member Associations. You also can attend any professional associations meeting as a guest if youre not a member.
Engage in intensive, ongoing nursing education about safe medication practice and other relevant topics. You will find considerable material at http://ce.nurse.com/. You can read all of the material for free. Also, contact a nursing instructor from a school who you liked. Tell him/her what happened and ask for advice, support and help in moving forward in your career. Contact former classmates and get together by phone/online/in person for support.
Start volunteering somewhere medical now (e.g. a clinic for the homeless) while you look for paid employment. Volunteering is a good way to get your foot in the door somewhere. It also helps you to learn new skills, make valuable contacts, and build confidence. And it gives you recent relevant experience to out on your resume. Additionally, volunteering often leads to paid employment.
Look for a work environment such as long-term care or rehabilitation, possibly with a larger healthcare system, that will provide you with a comprehensive orientation. Please read Your First Year as a Nurse Making the Transition from Total Novice to Successful Professional. Find out more http://ce.nurse.com/7010.
You will have to tell prospective employers that you got off on the wrong foot and let them know what steps you are taking to improve. Be humble and modest, take responsibility for your shortcomings, and be genuine in your commitment to be the best nurse you can be.
My best wishes,