How can an RN find a job at a hospital if she was terminated from her first hospital job?

By | 2022-05-05T11:53:26-04:00 August 25th, 2014|0 Comments


Dear Donna,

I have been an RN for four years. Immediately following graduation from nursing school, I was offered a position on a med-surg floor of a hospital. During orientation, I held a medication for a critical lab value and told my preceptor. I was not advised by her to contact the physician. Days later, I was informed by management that my employment was being terminated. I contacted a lawyer who specialized in nursing malpractice suits and we came to an agreement with the hospital to change my termination to a resignation.

After being offered another job, it became apparent that the hospital never changed my status to resigned. The lawyer said the hospital changed its decision, and we couldn’t do anything else. The job offer was rescinded.

At this point in time, I am working at a nursing home/subacute rehab as I have not been able to get an interview with a hospital. I have to answer “yes” when asked if I have ever been fired on an application. I feel that this is putting my application at the bottom of the pile. I have read some of your advice on overcoming a difficult past and am still having difficulty overcoming this obstacle. What advice do you have for me as my heart lies in acute care?

Devastated in NJ

Dear Donna replies:

Dear Devastated in NJ,

I’m sorry to hear about this whole situation for many reasons. I also am disappointed to hear that you came to an agreement with your employer and they supposedly changed their mind and didn’t honor the legal agreement. It also is disappointing that your attorney stated that nothing more could be done. There are a lot of questions in my mind about that whole scenario.

One thing to consider is that if this incident happened very early on in that position and your employment was still provisionary, you may not even have to list/report this position at all. However, since you indicate that you live in New Jersey, this state does have strict reporting laws because of the Charles Cullen case. But if I were you, I’d consult with a nurse attorney on the specific issue of whether you need to even list that first place of employment if it was provisionary and you were there a very short period of time.

That being said, I believe the current job market for nurses and the time elapsed since you graduated from nursing school is a bigger challenge for you in landing a hospital job than the fact that you were once terminated. Most hospitals are only hiring nurses with very current hospital experience. This is because care is shifting out of the hospital and into alternate care settings such as the one where you are employed. This hiring trend may reverse itself in the future (a similar thing happened in the 1990s) and you would have an opportunity to take a refresher course and get some hospital experience. But that may not be possible right now.

In spite of the above, you should continue to actively network with nurses working in acute care (hospital) because you just never know where a position will open up. You should join and become active in your local chapter of the American Nurses Association ( as it makes sense to rub elbows with others working in the specialty of interest to you. Attend meetings, join a committee or work on a special project. Have a simple business card made for yourself, shake hands and let those you meet know what type of position you want.

Networking can be a great way to find a job and get hired, especially when you have obstacles to overcome. That means you need to contact anyone and everyone you know, both in and out of healthcare, and let them know what type of position you want. Ask for referrals, leads, introductions and recommendations. People are more willing to take a chance on a candidate when they have been referred by someone they know.

You’ll find detailed information about networking in my book, “The ULTIMATE Career Guide for Nurses,” which is available where books are sold.

You also do have to realize it may not be possible to land a position in acute care right now. However, it doesn’t mean you have to stay where you are now. Get out to area career fairs and see what else is available to you. Talk to other nurses working in different settings and specialties. You have to be much more proactive in your search.

Even though you are not a new nurse, read, “New nurse, new job strategies” for additional information and advice (

Best wishes,


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