Finding a Job as a Nurse In a Digital Age — and Keeping It

Will at Drawing on Experience manages to post a new comic almost every day. A regular theme is the progress of his career—having finished his accelerated nursing program, he’s now looking for a job. To the left is a thumbnail of a recent drawing he did about one of the more annoying aspects of the process (click the image to visit his blog and see a larger version).

A nurse returns to work at age 68 and finds her biggest challenge is computers.Of course, this isn’t the first downturn we’ve had in the U.S. economy; as AJN clinical editor Christine Moffa wrote back in May, newly minted nurses have struggled to find work before. Once you actually do get a job as a nurse, there’s the small matter of doing it for the first time. Or for the second or third time—but as if it’s the first time, at least in some respects. The October Reflections essay, “Paper Chart Nurse,” gives another perspective on the ways computers have changed the lives of nurses. It’s by an oncology nurse who returned to practice two years ago, at age 66. Her struggles with adapting to using an electronic medical record system were at times profoundly discouraging; she just wasn’t as proficient as the younger nurses at computer use, despite all her skills and experience. Have a look and please, tell us what you think.—JM, senior editor

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Senior editor/social media strategy, American Journal of Nursing, and editor of AJN Off the Charts.


  1. christine contillo December 29, 2010 at 10:12 am

    What makes a nurse good? Or what makes a good nurse? We can master all the technicalities (and it may take some much longer than others), but we shouldn’t lose site of our patient and the numerous, complex needs they may have. There has to be a place for smart, clinically savvy nurses who struggle with the every faster changes in technology and as a profession we need to help them find that place.

  2. Lulu December 9, 2010 at 6:37 pm

    This is greatly disheartening. I have experienced this myself for the last two years and despite my 20 years of diverse and competent nursing skills, this leaves one’s self confidence in the gutter. It is very frustrating to see younger coworkers flying through reams of information and data, while you are left in the dust with the feeling that your 20 years or however many years of experience just don’t matter any more. i feel strongly that computers have taken away a very valuable part of nursing; it has taken away that last bit of time that we used to spend comforting, educating, or just listening to a patient.
    I truly feel for the writer and wish her well. I am afraid that there is going to be an entire generation of well educated and experienced nurses that are going to be affected by this change. Can only hope that it won’t result in the loss of those valued nurses………. Hang in there!

  3. […] the Charts @ AJN has another article on nurses finding work and keeping it in this digital age! Not surprising the posts about finding jobs in this economy.  Though nurses in general have […]

  4. Loretta Myers November 3, 2010 at 9:03 pm

    This is my biggest fear!!! The electronic records system. Taking exams; I will hit an answer not intended and not discover it until too late. Dislectic since first grade, I did a good job of hiding it as long as I had kept active. Now I don’t know!!!

  5. Marcy Phipps October 26, 2010 at 9:32 pm

    While she may not feel technically proficient, the author of “Paper Chart Nurse” is obviously quite valued by both her co-workers and her patients. It’s nice to see a team adapt to take advantage of the strengths of its members.

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