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How does an experienced RN with an ADN get a position at a hospital?


Dear Donna,

I’m about at the end of my nursing career. I lost my job because of my recent illnesses and my husband’s declining health. I can’t retire quite yet for a couple reasons and need to return to the hospital setting. One problem is I am an associate degree RN, and getting a position with a two-year degree is becoming increasingly difficult because of the push to hire nurses with a BSN.

What do I do now? I worked at my last position for four years but the previous four positions were with four different companies, which did not work out.

I should have stayed in my position as a NICU RN and not left the hospital setting. I am having a hard time even getting any response to my applications. I certainly cannot list the positions that haven’t worked out well. How do I handle this?

Needs a Job

Dear Donna replies:

Dear Needs a Job,

There’s not much point in looking back and dwelling on what you think you should have done. There’s no guarantee you’d be in a different place now had you taken a different path, especially when you mention the challenges with illnesses you’ve encountered. Even if you had stayed in a hospital position, so much has changed there you could have wound up exactly where you are anyway. Read “Picking up the pieces of your career” ( for tips to use in your job search.

You say you need to return to the hospital but that may not be possible for many reasons. If your hospital experience is not within the last six months, even if you had a BSN, you might not be considered for a job in a hospital. The hospital job market is changing and positions are shifting into other settings (ambulatory care, alternate inpatient settings and the home). Even though you’re not a new nurse, read “New nurse, new job strategies” to better understand the evolving job market and how to work within it.

I would suggest you contact a nursing agency and try to get any work you can. This will provide some income for the time being. Temp work often leads to regular full-time employment. You may not be able to get hospital work through the agencies if your hospital experience isn’t current, but there are other well- paying opportunities for nurses in other settings. Some agencies only do hospital placement and some do a combination of hospital and non-hospital placement. So be sure to contact several.

Attend nursing career fairs in your area. This is a great way to meet many prospective employers and agency reps under one roof. Face-to-face networking is much more effective than sending out online resumes. See what’s coming up in your area ( Read “How to get the most out of attending a career fair” ( to make the most of your time when attending these events.

Until you find a paid position, do some volunteer work as a nurse. This is a good way to expand your professional network, get a foot in the door somewhere and maintain current experience. Volunteering often leads to paid employment. H. Jackson Brown Jr., author of “Life’s Little Instruction Book” said, “Opportunity dances with those already on the dance floor.”

When what you’re doing isn’t working, it’s time to try a new approach. Every nurse needs to look in new directions for employment and learn and utilize new skills to find those jobs and get hired. Use the above suggestions, including those in the referenced articles, and start to move forward, creating a new future.

Best wishes,

By | 2015-02-03T00:00:00-05:00 February 3rd, 2015|Categories: Blogs, Nursing careers and jobs|0 Comments

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