How can an RN explain a past termination due to suspicion of diverting narcotics during job interviews?

By | 2022-02-21T17:35:58-05:00 December 18th, 2014|0 Comments


Dear Donna,

I am preparing my resume for a future job hunt. Several years ago, I was terminated on suspicion of diverting narcotics, although there was no drug test, which I would have passed. I was simply let go.

Since this occurred, I have been successful in another job from which I am preparing to leave. I am nervous on how to explain that previous termination given how unpleasant the reasoning sounds.

Challenges with Termination

Dear Donna replies:

Dear Challenges with Termination,

For starters, you do not need to mention on your resume or in a cover letter why you left that previous employer. Of course, you may be asked about it on a job application in which case you should simply state terminated if that is what happened (as opposed to being asked to resign). When asked about the termination, keep it brief and light. It’s challenging to give you suggested language to use without knowing exactly what the circumstances were. You might say something such as, “I was let go over an unresolved dispute. I’ve put the matter behind me and successfully moved on to my current position.” If asked for further details you could say something like, “It was an internal matter, not a patient care issue (if that is true), and I wouldn’t want to breach any confidences.” Such statements can still make a prospective employer suspicious, but sometimes that type of response will suffice.

What troubles me, though, is you were terminated on suspicion of diverting narcotics, regardless of what actually happened. You imply you were not guilty of the charges and if that is the case, I would suggest that you contact a nurse attorney, even if the position was a few years ago, to find out how your employer left it in your record and see if you can get it cleared up one way or the other. The allegations are serious and could come back to haunt you later in your career.

Whenever you have challenges in your background such as this, it is best to rely more on word of mouth networking for job leads than on applying to classified ads. When you can get referred or recommended for a position by someone who knows you, there is sometimes less scrutiny into your employment background and/or employers are more inclined to take a chance on you if there is some concern. Read “Picking up the pieces of your career” ( The fact you’ve had a subsequent successful employment experience is on your favor.

If there’s more to the story of your previous employment situation than you are revealing here, you might want to consult an RN career coach to help you move forward.

Best wishes,


Discover how can help you find your next dream job.
Just sign up and wait to be paired with your perfect match.

About the Author:


Leave A Comment