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I’ve been unemployed since I was laid off a year ago. What should I do to rejoin the workforce?


Dear Donna,

I have been an RN with a specialty in psychiatry for eight years. Unfortunately, I have been unemployed for a year after being laid off from my job. I tried to apply to a transitional med/surg level at several hospitals, but they did not accept my applications because I don’t have recent med/surg experience. What should I do to rejoin the workforce?


Dear Donna replies:

Dear Estrella,

The hospital job market is tight for all nurses now but especially those without current hospital experience. And in your case, if you have never worked in med/surg, or haven’t worked in that specialty for more than eight years, you likely would not be considered unless you at least take a refresher course. But even that will not guarantee hospital bedside employment.

You’d be more likely to get hired into a psychiatric position, but if you don’t want to pursue that, consider nontraditional positions. For example, many insurance companies have depression management programs and hire nurses to do phone and computer work. There are also many other options in the insurance industry for you.

Consider contacting a telephone triage or private case management/worker’s comp company to work for them. Find these companies by searching online or asking around. These are only a few examples of nontraditional options.

Right now, start volunteering somewhere health-related while you look for paid employment. Consider a local public health department, blood bank, free clinic, etc. Volunteering is a way to get your foot in the door, learn something new and make new contacts.

Attend local chapter meetings of your state chapter of the American Nurses Association (, even as a guest. This not only will keep you connected to your profession but also will provide a support system and expand your network. Networking is well known to be a great way to find and get a job.

Attend nursing career fairs as soon as they resume after the holidays. See what’s happening in your area at It also would be great for you to attend an upcoming Career Alternatives for Nurses seminar. You’ll learn to identify transferable skills, explore more nontraditional options, hone your self-marketing and networking skills and get energized. See where I’ll be:

And if you really, really want to try to get into a hospital med/surg unit, look for RN refresher courses in your area and enroll. Get your CPR and IV certifications, too. Volunteering and networking apply as above. But because care (and jobs) is shifting out of the acute care hospitals into settings including the community, alternative care settings and the home, don’t focus on just that one option.

Read “How to Handle Layoffs” (
Best wishes,

By | 2011-12-21T00:00:00-05:00 December 21st, 2011|Categories: Blogs, Nursing careers and jobs|0 Comments

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