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What type work can an RN do if she has a DWI and depression diagnosis?

Dear Donna,

I am a 33-year-old non-practicing nurse with a BSN. The longest job I’ve held was an RN case manager for two years with a managed-care insurance company. I would do that type of work again, but I am having a hard time landing a job due to my gaps in employment, a DWI conviction and lack of solid experience as a nurse. I worked in a hospital for a few weeks, but found it too fast-paced and stressful. I love your response to nurses seeking advice regarding the profession and I thought perhaps you can assist me.

I have done private duty home care for a majority of my nursing career, but it is not considered solid experience. When I tried to go back to it to make a few bucks to get by even though it is a dead end job, it has not worked out because clients don’t like the way I work and I’m not much of a people person. I’m out of practice now.

As an alternative, through the substance abuse program, which I attended due to having a DWI and alcohol problem, I’ve been referred to a program for training in medical administration, which includes billing and coding. After completing this training, I will be eligible to work in an entry-level position making about $12 per hour. I’ve never made so little money in my life, but for the past year I haven’t made any money and I owe a lot of money to almost everyone.

I also have been diagnosed with depression and social anxiety, and I don’t work well with my hands. I am not very assertive, and I’ve realized I’m also not emotionally mature. I prefer to work independently, in a quiet environment, with information rather than people. Do you have any ideas for the types of nursing jobs for me?

Not a People Person

Dear Not a People Person,

Some nurses work better and feel more comfortable in technical or administrative roles rather than in direct patient care roles. There’s nothing wrong with that, and nursing offers a wide variety of opportunities. I always say that there is something for everyone in nursing. Plus, there are many ways and places to make a difference in nursing.

Take the medical administration course if that is offered to you because learning billing and coding is very valuable for a nurse. You will be able to use that knowledge and skill in an RN role that pays much more than $12 an hour. Even if you don’t want to do billing and coding, the knowledge gained from taking the course can be transferable to other types of nursing positions including doing chart reviews for your state quality improvement organization.

Volunteer to get foot in the door

Because you are unemployed, I suggest you start volunteering as a nurse, or at least in a healthcare setting in some capacity, while you look for paid employment. Contact your local branch of the American Heart Association or the American Red Cross. Offer to work on computer and administrative projects. Social service agencies often are more accepting of people with disabilities and challenges. Volunteering also gives you a sense of being productive, part of a community and it often turns into paid employment. It’s easier to get hired from a volunteer position rather than trying to get hired outright when you have a challenging background.

Contact nursing/healthcare employment agencies about part-time and temp non-traditional work. This can be a way to earn some money while you get yourself re-established. Part-time and temp work sometimes turns into more regular employment.

Clearly you have a number of challenges and issues for which you need support. Trying to manage all of this in isolation heightens the anxiety and stress. Most cities and counties have mental health services that see people regardless of their ability to pay. Not only can these counselors help with some personal issues but they also can often support you in a job search. Do an Internet search for “free mental health services in New York City.”

You also can look for a job and career support group in your community. These are often sponsored by a local religious congregation, department of labor or some professional associations, Do an Internet search for “job support groups NYC” and “free career services in New York City.”

You also might want to consider working with an RN career coach to help and support you. Do an Internet search for “RN career coach.”

For additional tips on how to find a nursing job, read “Picking up the pieces of your career”.

Best wishes,

By | 2021-05-07T16:30:54-04:00 August 6th, 2015|Categories: Nursing Careers and Jobs|1 Comment

About the Author:

Special Topics Editor Deborah Filipek develops and edits content for OnCourse Learning’s blog, which covers news, trends and features relevant to nurses. She has more than 25 years of writing and editing experience, having previously worked for weekly newspapers and ad agencies in the Chicagoland area.

One Comment

  1. Avatar
    Cyndi August 7, 2017 at 10:34 pm - Reply

    I am at rock bottom
    I am an RN with a BS of 33 years
    I never considered myself a problem drinker
    More of a stupid drinker
    6 years ago, I got a DUI…. BAC= .083
    I went through the ARD program
    I did not lose my drivers license, I was not required to do community services
    I went to the mandated classes
    And the Alcohol counselor deemed me not to have a drinking problem
    Fast forward 6 yrs
    I was stopped a block from my home
    The police said they got a call
    I admitted I had been drinking wine at lunch
    My breathalyzer was .18
    There were mini bottles of wine on my front passenger floor
    I had not been drinking them
    Took them out of my trunk to throw out

    My career is my world
    I have a problem
    Will take all and any steps for total sobriety

    Please advise on how I should prepare for loss of drivers license, prob house arrest and loss of job and maybe nurse license

    I’m 55

    So ashamed, scared, angry with me

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