How can an RN get a job with license on probation?

By | 2021-05-28T17:39:52-04:00 April 23rd, 2015|21 Comments

Q: Dear Donna,

My current nursing license is on probation due to actions taken by another nurse against my expired license. There were no drugs or alcohol involved. I did not hurt any patients and my license is still active. How do I deal with this when looking for employment? It seems every time I’m upfront, I’m told “we’ll call you” and nothing happens. The only restrictions I have are I cannot be the only nurse in facility and cannot supervise LPNs and above. What can I do to maximize my chances of gaining employment?

Trying to Work with License on Probation

A: Dear Trying to Work with License on Probation,

It is always challenging for me to respond to this type of question without knowing the particulars of your situation. Based on the license restrictions you mention and the experience you relay in applying for jobs, it might be best to go after non-clinical nursing positions for now where this will be less of an issue. These might include working for an insurance company or a pharmaceutical company, both of which offer a wide variety of opportunities for nurses. You also can contact your state Quality Improvement Organization about doing chart audits. These are just a few examples.

You can seek non-clinical positions through a nursing employment agency. Many of them do non-traditional placement, including part-time, full-time, temp and contract work.

Since you are unemployed, seek volunteer work as a nurse while you continue to look for paid employment. Consider your local public health department, a blood bank and the American Red Cross. Volunteer work gives you recent relevant experience to put on your resume, gives structure to your week and helps to keep your mind off your troubles.It also gives you a chance to hone old skills while learning new ones and to expand your professional network. Everything happens through networking. Plus, volunteering often leads to paid employment, so it is a way to get a foot in the door somewhere.

Read “Picking up the pieces of your career” for additional tips and advice.

If you are not already working with a nurse attorney to get your license issue resolved, I recommend that you consult one. Nurse attorneys are uniquely qualified to represent and advise nurses with such issues. Regardless of what actually happened, you could use someone who knows the system advocating for you. Your license, your livelihood and your reputation are at stake. Find a nurse attorney by getting a referral through your state chapter of the American Nurses Association whether or not you are a member, by asking around, and/or by contacting the American Association of Nurse Attorneys.

Send nursing career-related questions to Career guru Donna Cardillo, RN, MA, CSP:

Best wishes,



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About the Author:

Donna Cardillo
Donna Cardillo, RN, MA, CSP, is president of Known as The Inspiration Nurse, she is a keynote speaker, retreat and seminar leader, and author of "Your First Year as a Nurse: Making the Transition from Total Novice to Successful Professional" and "The ULTIMATE Career Guide for Nurses: Practical Advice for Thriving at Every Stage of Your Career." She brings more than 25 years of clinical, management and business experience to her role as career guru.


  1. Avatar
    Jacklyn April 12, 2016 at 1:32 am - Reply

    Dear Donna- I have received a warning with stipulations from the Texas State Board of Nursing 8/2015. At the time, I was working as a travel RN and my contract was terminated when my company notified the hospital of my board order. Now it’s been 8 months and I still have not found employment. I’m just looking for some sort of help or suggestions for finding employment. Thank you.

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    This will help other nurse out November 28, 2016 at 2:47 am - Reply

    Walnut Creek in Dayton Ohio will hire nurses on probation .

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    Darin Johnson, RN, MSN (#430326) December 28, 2016 at 4:30 pm - Reply

    I had an unfounded complaint forwarded to the Ca. BRN when I worked as a traveling nurse in 2012. When the BRN posted it on my license in 2014, I have been unable to work with an accusation pending. I want to know if there is a blog to post such cases so other nurses are more aware of the risks involved of working outside of Union Representation that would have conducted a proper investigation.

    • Sallie Jimenez
      Sallie Jimenez December 28, 2016 at 5:10 pm - Reply

      Hello Darin,

      We do not have a specific place on blog for posting such cases, but your comment may elicit further conversation from fellow nurses on the topic. Thank you for sharing your situation.

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    Kris August 14, 2017 at 6:35 pm - Reply

    I graduated top of my class at age of 27. I’m now 30 finally got approval to take my NCLEX after 2.5 years of fight with CA BEN due to expunged Duis at 18,19,21 y/o. I understand the how it looks but I was in a different place than and not even in nursing school. However, I have accepted I will be placed on 3yr probation (same stipulations as RN abusing narcotics ) …I just recently took my NCLEX but now they won’t release my results and will not reply and I even just got hung up on once I finally got thru. I’m beyond frustrated, broke, in debt don’t know what to do?
    Also, where does a NEW grad on Probation get a job???

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      Nene B April 11, 2018 at 3:22 am - Reply

      Hi, I am in the same situation as you. A new grad on probabtion. Did you ever get a job? If so, where?

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    Ken Gall October 21, 2017 at 9:04 pm - Reply

    I’m an LVN on 3 years probation. I live in San Francisco and was wondering if you know of any specific places that would possibly hire me?

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    Tina Kirkbride November 16, 2017 at 4:12 pm - Reply

    I’m being put in probation in ca after 31yrs of nursing I have no job very down what are my options were can I get a job

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    Becca November 29, 2017 at 1:42 am - Reply

    If I volunteer my nurse services will this count towards my probation as being supervised for 1440 hrs of clinical practice?

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      Amber Felce January 25, 2021 at 11:07 am - Reply

      Did you ever find an answer to this?

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    Carole January 16, 2018 at 9:09 am - Reply

    i have been a RN for over 30 years when the BRN fought and gained a probation and a “stipulation” to complete 6 months supervision on on my license.They then took my lisence for not completing my lisence within two years. I was seriously medically ill. They said that they would take it IF after a year my health has not improved. Now I am desperate and need work. I cannot teach nursing on any level nor do home care ( i have PHN, BSN and MSN}. Ridulous but had a lousy lawyer.I was also working for the Board of Nursing when this all happenned to me.I had not done what I was accused for. Where can I find out where i can work? The ONLY restriction i have is i need another RN in the place of work, 3 days of supervision a week for 6 months. No drug testing, no psych meetings, no restriction on keys, nothing. Even the person they accuse of accusing me is denying anything. Please help me
    Sincerely Carole BSN,MSN

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    Sonya Bear April 15, 2018 at 10:05 pm - Reply

    Prayers for all of you fellow nurses

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    Sonya Bear April 15, 2018 at 10:11 pm - Reply

    I have been a nurse for 22 years and a Cna 9 years 7 of which were Lvn. I am on probation for 3 years s and cannot find work anywhere either. My faith has been maturing more than ever though. I was accused of diverting morphine and was later cleared of that but was put on probation for improper documentation of wastes. I have been an Icu Er Med surg home health nurse as well as a correctional supervisor . I had to step down and was terminated at “ no fault” due to the restrictions not allowing me to supervise . I know nothing else but nursing. What do I do?

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    nursey undone April 16, 2018 at 2:56 pm - Reply

    Darn Johnson, a NP in the same boat as you , the BON putting the complaint on your license before due process, he filed a special action which stops the BON from doing this . It puts you out of work , and the AZ BON wants to drain your bank account , so they put it on there (or used to ) It takes them YEARS to get a case to court.
    ALso Calif cases are crooked in the courts , but nothing beats AZ
    the BON put nurses on probation knowing they cannot find work so they revoke or you remain on probation for years !!
    they love to use Psych to take nurses down.
    AZSTATEBOARDOFNURSINGCORRUPTIONWATCHDOGS horrible state to get a license in ! no unions ! corrupt board

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    nursey undone April 16, 2018 at 3:10 pm - Reply

    Dear Donna, while it seems like a good answer to do NON clinical , the probation states, (MUST WORK #^ HOURS A WEEK) in nursing bedside supervised.
    the BON knows you cannot find a job. so they revoke the license for not following the probation !
    AZ board of nursing is one of the worst . Living in AZ at the time they ordered me to work in Calif , with PERMISSION from CALIF ! even though I had a license. these states do not have to give you permission to work,
    OH and the probation stating this was never signed it was in the appeals process but they revoked anyways.

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    Judith July 31, 2018 at 12:46 am - Reply

    Hello Carol,
    It is frustrating dealing with the BRN. I thought of taking my case to the governor. I was offered positions until the employer learned I am on restriction. I currently work at walmart in their warehouse. I am so stressed and my probation officer is so cold and off putting. I am willing to uproot my teenage sons to work as a nurse. I have 1 more year to find a job before they totally take my license. The thing is I am not even the same person I was 20 years ago. Ugh

  14. Avatar
    Irene August 3, 2018 at 10:22 pm - Reply

    Arizona, again. Nurses, stay away

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    Janice Blanks March 26, 2020 at 3:06 pm - Reply

    It is shocking to hear so many stories about Nurses being placed on probation. I am also on probation for 3 years and must find employment for 6 months at least 24 hours a week. Like many of you I have been an RN for 29 years. I was a Supervisor and one day I was informed that a complaint was filed against me by a patient. They said I delayed care to them. I instructed my nurses to send this patient out for treatment however, they failed to follow my directions. Of course when I was notified about the complaint I could not find any of my nurses to back me up. Suddenly they acquired amnesia. So 2 years later I was terminated with no disciplinary action. The place I worked for would not allow me to work for them as an RN which for me was a demotion. I hired a lawyer because I was so stressed out from loosing my job to see if we could work with the BRN. My lawyer was only able to get the termination changed to a resignation however I am still on probation. No harm came to the patient, and I was completely cleared by an internal investigation. It has been about a year and I cannot find a job.

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    Lisa March 21, 2021 at 3:41 pm - Reply

    I think the BRN has a vested interest in how they deal with Nurses and if you don’t choose that route then they make your life hell. I think that all of this needs to be investigated, after all as nurses the more eyes on the issue the better, right? (Kind of a disparity in the the standards there.) If you do what they want, they get a kick back (and no marks are left on your record. How in the logical world does that make sense!!???

    We are only human. Go work in an ICU for 15 years and tell me you’re not depressed or stressed out if you add in your own life issues. Maybe add a little PTSD for all of the COVID-19 inhumanity that we never signed up for. Let’s see one of the bureaucrats making colossal decisions toward an essentially stellar nursing career and professional reputation.
    This is a travesty to our profession. A profound lack of compassion, integrity, and morality in a profession, which is based on just that. Do no harm and for the greater good goes out the window. Quite the double standard in a state that is all about the money! Is this really how all of those missed birthdays with our kids and holidays or vacations with our families is to be relayed?

    I think there has to be a change. What monitors the civil courts should be informed in the BRN administrative process. (Which should include a panel of nurses or medical professionals… PEERS being called for “jury duty,” if you will.). This is not due process. And it’s a double standard and should be stopped. Checks and balances. That’s all. Innocent, hard working, and dedicated professionals are HUMAN too.

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    David Key July 21, 2021 at 7:40 pm - Reply

    I need help finding a job in Florida with probation on my California nursing license that I never worked in Calfornia

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    Dairo Torres December 29, 2021 at 8:26 pm - Reply

    I’m an RN on probation. I’m living in Miami, Florida. I need a job that will accept that I’m on probation. Thanks

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