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Do I have to discuss a workers’ comp-related absence from nursing on job applications?

Question:

Dear Donna,

I am having a hard time getting a job after 11 years out. I just took an RN refresher course to help. My resume simply states that I took a career break during that time. Part of it was workers’ compensation-related. Some of the agencies that I have been applying for have a section in the application questions on Workers’ Compensation, which I thought I didn’t have to answer under the HIPAA law. I hope this is not hurting me.

Donna

Dear Donna replies:

Dear Donna,

Re-entering the nursing workforce after an extended absence is challenging but doable, regardless of the reason for the absence. Please read “Picking Up the Pieces of Your Career” at www.Nurse.com/Cardillo/Pieces.

Start volunteering now somewhere medical while you continue to look for paid employment. Volunteering is a great way to ease back into the workforce, build your confidence, hone old skills and learn new ones. You also will make great contacts and have some recent relevant experience to put on your resume. Besides, volunteering often leads to paid employment.

Join and get active in your state chapter of the American Nurses Association. They may have reduced dues for unemployed nurses. Then get out to local meetings (even as a guest, if you don’t join right away) and get on a committee. This will help you to get reconnected to your profession; build a support system; and get up to date on issues, information and trends. Besides, networking is the best way to find and get a job under any circumstances.

Here are two additional articles that you may find helpful: “Re-entering the Workforce” at www.DCardillo.com/articles/reenterwork.html and “Working with a Disability” (although I’m not sure if this is applicable to you) at www.DCardillo.com/articles/savecareer106.html.

Don’t mention anything about your “career break” on your resume. You can mention in a cover letter when applying for a job that you have been on a “hiatus from healthcare” or a “career break” to tend to personal and family matters, but that you have kept current with information and trends. And if the last phrase isn’t true, take steps now to get up to date by doing online CEs, reading nursing journals and attending local chapter meetings of nursing professional associations.

Regarding the workers’ comp question on applications, according to the Americans With Disabilities Act and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission as I understand it, an employer may not ask about your workers’ comp history in a pre-employment situation, as this may elicit information about a disability. If I were you, I would leave the question blank in this situation. You can check with your state division of EEOC for further clarification. Here’s a document you may find helpful: www.EEOC.gov/policy/docs/preemp.html

Re-entry is a process, so be patient with yourself and the process. When you can’t get in the front door, try the back door with the above suggestions. Start moving forward and creating positive career momentum and the right opportunity will come your way.

My best wishes,
Donna

By | 2010-04-02T00:00:00+00:00 April 2nd, 2010|Categories: Blogs, Nursing careers and jobs|0 Comments

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