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Is there any hope of an RN with 2 years of experience getting another job as a nurse after working in other areas of healthcare for 10 years?


Dear Donna,

I have two years of experience in nursing, but I have not worked as a nurse for more than 10 years. I have been working full-time in the pharmaceutical area in a quality assurance role. I left nursing to pursue occupational safety/health, decided to get back into nursing seven years ago, but was sidelined when my wife and I started a family.

I decided to complete my master’s degree in occupational safety/health. After I finished an RN refresher/reactivation program in May, I started sending out resumes and applying for jobs, but am getting discouraged that no one will even look at me. I would like to work as a nurse full time. Do you think someone like me is a lost cause?

Feels Like A Lost Cause

Dear Donna replies:

Dear Feels Like A Lost Cause,

You’re not a lost cause in any way, shape, or form. But you may be out of touch with what’s happening in the current job market for nurses.

I find it curious that you say you got “out of nursing” to work in quality assurance in the pharmaceutical realm and occupational safety and health. These are all specialties within the profession of nursing. So from my perspective, you have not been out of nursing at all. Try to adjust your mindset on that and expand your view of who a nurse is and what a nurse does.

You don’t mention what type of nursing jobs you are applying for. If you are trying to get hired by a hospital, know that those jobs are shrinking and going only to those with very current hospital experience. So you would not be a good candidate for that even though you took a refresher course.

Even nurses who have been away from the hospital for six months in some cases, and many new nurses are not getting hired by hospitals. So don’t take it personally.

You do have plenty of nursing options in other settings. These include the ambulatory care arena, outpatient settings such as hemodialysis centers, cancer care centers and hospice. And with your background and education in occupational health and safety, why not look into occupational health
nursing? Learn more about the specialty by reviewing the website of The American
Association of Occupational Health Nurses ( It might be best for you to start working for a private company that provides occupational health nursing services to other companies. Find these by doing an Internet search for “occupational health company.”

Because you are apparently looking to do something more clinical than your previous jobs, I suggest that you start volunteering as a nurse in a clinical setting while you continue to look for paid employment. Consider a free clinic, your local public health department or a blood bank.

Volunteering is a great way to get some recent relevant experience, build confidence, and make valuable professional contacts. Plus, volunteering often leads to paid employment so it’s a great way to get your foot in the door somewhere.

Additionally you should join and get active in your state chapter of the American Nurses Association ( This is a good way to get reconnected to your profession, get up to date on trends and issues, and further expand your professional network. Everything happens through
networking and it is a great way to find jobs and get interviews. Whether you join or not, you can attend local meetings as a guest. Consider attending meetings of local chapters of the American
Association of Ambulatory Care Nurses ( and/or AAOHN.

When what you’re doing isn’t working it’s time to try a new approach. You need to look in new directions for employment and need new skills to find those jobs and get interviews. The following articles will get you up to date with what is happening in the nursing job market, employment trend and what’s needed to succeed in a competitive job market: Review, “Refocus your career lens”
( and even though you’re not a new nurse,. Read “New nurse, new job strategies” ( for more tips.

Best wishes,

By | 2014-08-11T00:00:00-04:00 August 11th, 2014|Categories: Blogs, Nursing Careers and Jobs|0 Comments

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