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One year ago my three-year probation was lifted but I still cannot find a job. Do you have any advice?


Dear Donna,

My license was put on probation for three years for unprofessional conduct. What happened was I was getting pain medications from the ED and my doctor before I had surgery. I worked the entire time my license was on unrestricted probation. One year ago, the probation was lifted but I still cannot find a job. I have been clean and sober for five years but no one seems to care, and I cannot even get a chance. Do you have any advice?

Was on probation

Dear Donna replies:

Dear was on probation,

I am a little confused about the details of your current and past situation and the time line. You say you worked the entire time you were on unrestricted probation but now you are unemployed presumably for a year, after the probation was lifted. I am wondering why or what the circumstances were of your departure from the last position.

You do not mention what type of jobs you are going after, but it is important to know, regardless of your history, that the job market for all nurses has changed, even in the past year. Most hospitals are only hiring nurses with very current hospital experience. This is because there are an abundance of these nurses out there and because hospitals are downsizing as care shifts into alternative settings. Although I wrote this article for new nurses, which you are not, it explains what is going on in the job market and how to approach a job search/self-marketing in this competitive climate “New nurse, new job strategies” (

The other issue, of course, is your history of substance abuse and previous probation. That is indeed a hurdle to overcome but many other nurses have done it before you. What you have to do is rely more on personal networking and word of mouth, instead of relying solely on sending out online applications to classified ads in order to get an interview and be hired.

Prospective employers are much more apt to take a chance on someone that has been referred or recommended to them and can vouch for them. Read “Picking up the pieces of your career” ( In addition, you will find very detailed information about to approach a job search (how to address related questions etc.) with this type of background in “The ULTIMATE Career Guide for Nurses” (

Because you are unemployed, it is important for you to start volunteering as a nurse now while you continue to look for paid employment. Volunteering gives you recent experience to put on your resume; it expands your professional network and will help you to hone old skills while possibly learning new ones. It also will give structure to your day and week and help to boost confidence and make you feel productive. Plus, volunteering is a way to get your foot in the door somewhere and often leads to paid employment. Look for volunteer nurse positions with your local public health department, a free clinic or a blood bank.

Additionally, many substance abuse facilities, both inpatient and outpatient, will hire nurses who are in recovery as long as they have been sober for a year or two which you have been. Congratulations on that by the way!

When what you are doing is not working, it is time to try a new approach. Take all of the above advice, including that contained in the referenced articles and book, and work your way through this. If necessary, seek the services of a nurse career coach (rather than a non-nurse career coach) to help and support you through the process. We all need a little help from time to time.

Best wishes,

By | 2014-09-23T00:00:00-04:00 September 23rd, 2014|Categories: Blogs, Nursing careers and jobs|0 Comments

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