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Why is it some people don’t consider me a nurse since I moved into research even when those research jobs require a nursing degree?


Dear Donna,

I worked nine years in a city hospital (med/surg, telemetry and ICU) in the 1990s; I then went into clinical research for 14 years and worked as a research nurse or a research nurse coordinator. Why is it some people don’t consider me a nurse since I moved into research? All of the jobs that I have had in research required a nursing degree. I have my BSN and some graduate-level college credits. I also took an RN refresher course in 2011-2012.

Feels Rejected

Dear Donna replies:

Dear Feels Rejected,

Because you mention taking a refresher course, I presume you have been trying to get a hospital or other direct patient care position. As you have apparently already discovered, the clinical job market for nurses has changed quite dramatically in the last 14 years. As care shifts out of the hospital into other inpatient and outpatient settings, so too have hospital jobs for nurses shifted into other areas. That has resulted in an oversupply of hospital experienced nurses and fewer opportunities in that arena. So most hospitals are only hiring nurses with very recent hospital experience. So don’t take it personally.

Rather than trying to get back into the hospital, start looking for positions in one of the biggest growth sectors in healthcare, ambulatory care. These might include working in a nurse-run clinic, outpatient hemodialysis, a cancer care center, large primary care practice or blood bank. These are just a few examples. There are many, many others.

In the interim, seek volunteer clinical nursing positions while you continue to look for paid employment in an area of interest to you. These opportunities may exist in a local public health department, a free clinic, hospice and others. Volunteering is a good way to gain recent relevant experience, hone old skills and learn new ones and expand your professional network. It is also a good way to get a foot in the door somewhere as volunteering often leads to paid employment.

I also recommend that you start attending local chapter meetings of the American Nurses Association ( and/or the American Academy of Ambulatory Care Nurses ( even as a guest for now if not a member. When there’s something you want to do, it makes sense to rub elbows with those successfully doing that thing. Networking is well known to be a very effective way to find and get a job. Plus, this will help to get you reconnected to the clinical nursing world, get you up to date on issues, information and trends, and further expand your network.

Read “Nursing: A New Paradigm” to get an overview of the big picture (

Transitioning back into clinical nursing is a process so be patient with yourself. Take the above steps to create positive momentum in your career and move toward your goal.

Best wishes,

By | 2014-12-05T00:00:00-05:00 December 5th, 2014|Categories: Blogs, Nursing Careers and Jobs|0 Comments

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