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How do I account for these years I have been out of work? How do I explain my situation?


Dear Donna,

I have been an RN, with a BSN for 23 years. I have worked in a variety of settings, the last job was working for an ASAP in the PCA program as a nursing supervisor. For the past three years I have been unable to work due to migraines related to a discectomy and fusion I had on my cervical spine in 2011. I also was diagnosed with Graves’ disease, and for the last seven years have been unable to maintain a stable TSH level. I am extremely hypothyroid.

I’m really working on becoming a healthy, happy, and energetic nurse like I
was before all the health fiascos.

My question is, I have applied to several jobs online, and gotten no response, and I am wondering how do I account for these years I have been out of work? How do I explain my situation? Also, would you recommend a refresher course for me? I have called around, and no one seems to know if
they exist in this area. I am very interested in becoming a care coordinator; do I need certification for this position?

Needs to Get Back in the Nursing World!

Dear Donna replies:

Dear Needs to Get Back in the Nursing World!

You don’t mention what type of facilities you are applying to, but if it is primarily hospitals, that job market has changed. Most hospitals are hiring nurses only with very current hospital experience because there are an abundance of those nurses out there. A refresher course will not help in that regard and is not really necessary after being away from nursing for only three years. Plus, as you discovered, very few refresher courses are even being offered these days.

Care coordinator and care manager positions are being offered in other settings such as homecare, ambulatory care (medical homes, large primary care practices, clinics) alternate inpatient settings (e.g. sub-acute care, long-term care), and private care manager companies. Be sure to look beyond the hospital for opportunities. Since care is shifting out of the hospital and into the above-mentioned settings anyway, that is where to seek employment.

Regardless of one’s current experience, the nursing job market is very competitive in all settings and specialties. So every nurse needs to look in new directions for employment and to learn and utilize new skills to find jobs and get hired. You have to be much more proactive in your job-searching efforts than looking online for positions. Even though you are not a new nurse, read this article about how and where to look for employment ( Read “Ten steps to successful job
search” (

Since you are unemployed, you need to start volunteering in a healthcare-related area as nurse. It’s a great way to gain some recent relevant experience, build work stamina, especially important when you’ve been out due to illness or disability, hone old skills while learning new ones and expand your professional network. It also is a way to get your foot in the door somewhere and often leads to paid employment. Look for volunteer opportunities in ambulatory cancer care centers, your local public health department, a free clinic and the American Red Cross. It also is advisable to reactivate your nursing liability insurance if you’ll be doing anything hands-on or clinical, even as a volunteer.

You also should be getting out to local chapter meetings of nursing professional associations such as the American Nurses Association ( and/or the American Academy of Ambulatory Care Nurses ( as a guest for now. When there’s something you want to do, it makes sense to rub elbows with those already doing it. Remember, networking is a very effective way to find jobs
and get hired, especially when you have obstacles to overcome.

Regarding how to address your absence from the work force, you only need to say you had personal issues that needed your attention and you are now ready to get back to full-time work. You’d be surprised at how many nurses have a hiatus from the workforce for many different reasons. You don’t need to be any more specific.

You do not need to be certified to work in care coordination, but AAACN does offer education and information about the specialty (

Best wishes,

By | 2014-10-09T00:00:00-04:00 October 9th, 2014|Categories: Blogs, Nursing careers and jobs|0 Comments

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