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What Nurses Need to Know About Unemployment

May 27, 2020
Lauren Mochizuki, RN, BSN

As a per diem emergency room nurse, I submit my availability to my scheduler at work, and I usually get 80-100% of my requested shifts. When I received the approved April schedule, I only received 30% of my requested shifts; I realized two things.  

One, this is completely unprecedented. Historically, I have never received so few shifts. Although it was unusual and unexpected, I’m very thankful to not be stressed because we have many financial safeguards in place just in case of an emergency like this.

Two, I learned that nurses nationwide are experiencing similar issues: per diem nurses not getting their usual amount of hours, full-time and part-time nurses are being sent home due to low census, nurses are being furloughed, and some nurses are being floated to departments they have never previously worked in. 

Many nurses are collectively experiencing a financial crisis, wondering how they will pay their bills.

If your income has decreased because of the current pandemic, then it’s important to start exploring different means of increasing your income. It’s also important to use this time to get organized with your finances in order to be able to withstand another pandemic or financial emergency that could affect your employment.  

man sitting on sofa bench with laptop looking for nursing jobs nursing unemployment laid off furloughed nurses covid19


What Should Nurses Know About Unemployment? 

Unemployment 

If you have recently been laid off by your employer, then unemployment may be an option for you. According to the U.S. Department of Labor: “Unemployment insurance is a joint state and federal program that provides compensation to eligible workers who become unemployed through no fault of their own, and meet certain eligibility requirements.” 

Partial Unemployment

If you are still working, but your hours have been significantly reduced, you may qualify for partial unemployment. A great example of those that qualify are per diem employees who had their hours significantly decreased.  

For example, if you are used to working two or three shifts a week, but you only received 2-3 shifts for the whole month, you may qualify.  

Who qualifies?

There are different qualifications that you can confirm with your individual state when you apply. The most consistent qualification is that you are unemployed or have had hours reduced through no fault of your own. You will also need to meet work and wage requirements established by your particular state.

How to apply

Consult with your individual state’s unemployment program as soon as possible. Depending on the state, you can file for unemployment in person, over the phone, or online. Complete the entire claim in order to avoid a delay in processing.  

It’s important to note that it can take several weeks to receive your first paycheck from unemployment.  

What if your unemployment claim is denied?

Refer to your state department of labor website, and take the steps to file an appeal while actively conducting a job search. As another example, in the state of California, an appeal must be filed within 30 days of the mailing date of their “Notice of Determination” with additional requested information.  
 

Job Options

If you have exhausted your unemployment options, or you simply don’t qualify, it’s pertinent to continue your job search.  

Telehealth

Telehealth is a burgeoning field in medicine. As defined by the American Telemedicine Association: “telemedicine is the use of medical information exchanged from one site to another via electronic communications to improve a patient’s clinical health status.”

There are many new job opportunities within Telehealth. Due to the increase in healthcare apps, and the current desire to seek medical care while maintaining social distance, Telehealth has the potential to provide low-stress, and flexible jobs for nurses.  

Telehealth is already being utilized in some home healthcare settings, and nurses can use telehealth to interpret data, collaborate with other healthcare professionals, and monitor patients' symptoms.

Telephone Advice Nurse

Consider answering calls as an advice line RN. Currently patients have more questions about whether or not they should be seen by a physician. Depending on the company, this job can be done remotely from your home.  

Infusion/IV Hydration Nurse

IV hydration therapy offices are becoming more popular. As an IV hydration nurse, you would be starting IV’s and administering specialty fluids and vitamin injections in collaboration with the physician.   

Infusion nurses also obtain IV access and administer IV fluids. These jobs are typically in association with hospitals and have great flexibility, as you can choose to work in a variety of inpatient and outpatient settings

Nurse Entrepreneur

Nurses have a wide variety of specialties that can serve us well when creating our own businesses. We can develop medical products, provide nursing services, become a consultant, educator, or simply fill a void that we see in our community. 

Regardless of your situation, it’s important to remember that you chose your career for more than just stability, and times like now are what allow you to show that!

If you’re still on the lookout for full-time positions out there, let us help you find your next nursing job!