In my previous two NHS nursing posts, I was bullied. My situation was very poorly managed and over four years, this wore down my self-belief and confidence to such a degree I couldn’t cope and eventually became physically ill. I couldn’t work for two years and, as a direct result of the stress, have been left with a permanent, though thankfully well-controlled, heart condition.
When my sick pay and limited savings ran out, I realised I’d have to go back to work. My confidence was so low by this point that just the thought of deciding what work to look for was extremely daunting, let alone going for an interview or starting a new job. I wasn't even sure I’d be able to work as a nurse again.
Being listened to
I’m in my early 50s and found it difficult to ask for help. There’s a perceived expectation, even if self-imposed, that if you’re older you should be able to just get on with things. Eventually I called the RCN and was directed to the careers service.
I was so surprised by the level of support provided. I was shown understanding and empathy right from the very start. My career coach really listened to me - and it was such a relief to hear someone say they weren't the least bit surprised I felt the way I did.
There’s an expectation that if you’re older you should be able to just get on with things
I was given as much time and space as I needed to explain what had happened and its impact, and I soon found myself trusting them. From there, I was gently reintroduced to the world of work, initially through some clever, simple-to-use tools exploring the basics of what’s important to me and how this might relate to my work, then looking at ways of rediscovering and drawing on previous successes and positive experiences. The sessions were set at the right pace for me, arranged at a time to suit, and my career coach was able to be flexible when unexpected issues arose.
My confidence grew quickly and after a few sessions I found the strength to apply for two posts, each completely different to my previous work. I secured an interview for both - and was offered the two roles. I’m now looking forward to getting back to the job I have been trained for: caring for patients.
The RCN careers telephone coaching sessions have been invaluable. Genuine support and an easy-to-use system have helped me out of a dark place and back into work. I’d recommend the sessions to anyone. However simple or complex your issues, you’ll be dealt with as an individual, professionally, and with genuine care.
A lot of members feel they’re alone and don’t want to ask for help, but if your career has come to a standstill and you need some unbiased help, look at our website or get in touch to arrange a careers coaching session
Developing your career
The RCN has recently revamped its online careers advice and members now have access to information specifically for nurses, health care assistants and students. You can also access advice on writing CVs, covering letters, interview techniques and much more.
For information on personal careers coaching, contact RCN Direct on 0345 772 6100.