By Amy Stewart, MSN, RN, DNS-MT, QCP-MT, RAC-MT, RAC-MTA
You arrive at your long-term or post-acute care facility and find you’ve been summoned by the administrator to meet in his/her office. Once you get to the door, you see the human resource director present, too. You’re wondering, what is this about? Minutes later, you are shocked to hear the administrator say, “We have to let you go. You’re just not a good fit.” Your mind is whirling because you can’t imagine what you’ve done to get fired. You have come in early, stayed late, picked up multiple vacant shifts, worked over 60 hours the past few weeks, and now this! You ask, “Why? What did I do?” You are told it just isn’t working out and aren’t given a lot of details. You’re escorted out of the facility with your belongings and not allowed to talk to anyone. As you drive home, your anger continues to build. If this story resonates with you, you are not alone. LTPAC staff get fired every day for many reasons; however, what you do next is very important. Here are some tips to help you get through this unfortunate situation, pick yourself up, and start anew.
1. Just say no to social media
It would be easy to jump on social media and blast your previous employer or your boss on your own feed or the various nursing groups you are a part of, but don’t do it. Negative posts on social media may be seen by a future employer, hiring manager, or recruitment firm. Phone a friend or spouse, someone close to you, but avoid putting out feelings on social media, especially when you are angry. Get your support from close friends and family. These are your trusted confidants who personally care about you and your success.
Once the initial shock is over, take time to grieve the loss of your job. Grieve the loss of your daily routine, the loss of your colleagues, and the sense of purpose you had in this particular nursing home. Whether you have been there months or years, whether you loved the job or hated it, the pain of being let go is normal. Process your emotions without spending too much time sulking. Don’t curl up in the house in sweats and wallow in misery for weeks. Set a time limit and move forward. Nursing professionals are strong, and so are you!
3. Process what went wrong
Take time to process what went wrong and what you might do differently in the future. Think about the reason you were given for being fired. Look for opportunities for improvement. If you weren’t provided with specifics about why you were fired, ask a trusted former supervisor about your strengths and weaknesses. Let this information empower you and develop a corrective plan of action.
4. Update your resume
Eventually, you will need to get out there and find another job, so you will need to update your resume. Your resume should include your former employer even if you were fired. It is better to be transparent than withhold information just because you are embarrassed. This is also a good time to consider possible skills you might want to add to your resume. While waiting for a new opportunity, consider taking a class to learn a new skill or get a certification so you can boost your appeal to potential employers.
AAPACN offers the following best-in-class certifications for nursing professionals:
- Resident Assessment Coordinator – Certified Program (RAC-CT) Certification
- Resident Assessment Coordinator – Certified Advanced (RAC-CTA) Certification
- Director of Nursing Services – Certified (DNS-CT) Certification
- QAPI Certified Professional (QCP) Certification
5. Be honest during interviews
It would be easier to avoid having to answer questions about your former employment, but that probably won’t happen. Be prepared to answer questions during interviews about why you were fired. Don’t speak ill of your former employer or boss. Practice how you will respond to these questions before the interview. You want to show the potential employer you are honest and trustworthy. Once you’ve shared that you were fired and why, discuss the skills you will bring to this job and why you believe you are a good fit.
Being fired is a terrible experience, but it is also possible this event might open doors that you hadn’t imagined possible. Everything that happens to you in your career, good or bad, make you into the nurse you are today and tomorrow. Don’t waste time being angry and upset. Instead, focus on rebranding yourself and find the job that is the perfect fit for you.
Are you a MDS professional or nurse leader looking for a new position? You can find great job opportunities through the AANAC and AADNS job centers. The job centers also offer free assistance and feedback on creating or updating a resume and cover letter.