What to Do if You’re Laid Off From Your Nursing Job

It’s not often you hear the words “nurse” and “layoffs” in the same sentence. While there is a nursing shortage and nurses are in high demand, nurses still can get laid off.

There are several reasons why layoffs may occur:

  • The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted healthcare by permanently closing healthcare providers’ offices and outpatient clinics.
  • Employers may be downsizing because of the current economic climate.
  • Nurses are being laid off from women’s health and abortion clinics because of the overturn of Roe v. Wade.

You should be prepared if you ever have a conversation with your employer about layoffs. Keep reading to find out what you need to know if you are faced with being let go.

Layoffs vs. Furloughs

Layoffs and furloughs happen in healthcare when facilities are downsizing or going out of business.


  • Temporary or permanent termination from an employer
  • A way employers cut costs
  • Separation from an employer due to a decrease in work availability


  • Unpaid leave or a temporary decrease in employee work hours
  • Not enough money or work to make payroll
  • When an employee remains with the company despite not working and is expected to return

Many healthcare workers, including nurses, were furloughed during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. They were furloughed because elective procedures were canceled and outpatient clinics were closed. Many pediatric nurses were also on temporary leave since the pediatric population wasn’t hit as hard during the beginning of the pandemic.

Due to the overturn of Roe v. Wade, many nurses anticipate layoffs as clinics downsize or permanently shut down.

Getting Fired vs. Layoffs

Getting fired isn’t the same as getting laid off or furloughed. Being fired means you are terminated and no longer work for the company. Nurses can get fired for several reasons, including:

  • Misconduct
  • Causing harm to a patient or employee
  • Failure to update licenses and certifications
  • Social media mistakes
  • A nursing medical error

It is important to note that employees don’t get fired without a cause for termination.

How to Deal With Being Laid Off

Getting laid off can be an emotional and stressful time. Not only did you lose your job, but you’re also no longer working with familiar coworkers or in a familiar setting. You may be embarrassed. You also may be confused as to which steps to take next.

Everyone deals with layoffs differently. But being laid off is a great opportunity to take time for yourself and process what to do next. If you experience a layoff, it is important to:

  • Give yourself time to adjust.
  • Tell your family as soon as possible to prevent stress buildup.
  • If you have money saved, take time off before looking for another job.
  • Allow yourself to practice self-care for nurses.

It’s important to remain optimistic if you get laid off. Both nurse practitioners and registered nurses ranked in the top 10 best jobs of 2022, according to Indeed. Nurses ranked high because of stable pay and high job openings.

With the nursing shortage, you will find a new position in no time.

6 Things to Ask After Being Laid Off

Layoffs are far from your mind when onboarding into a new position. Sometimes layoffs come as a surprise, or you may know that layoffs are coming with changes in the company.

It is always a good idea to be prepared and know what to ask if you experience a layoff. If you get laid off, you want to ask your manager or human resources these questions:

  • When and how will you receive your last paycheck?
  • Will you be paid out your leftover paid time off, vacation, or sick days?
  • What are some resources to roll over your retirement plan?
  • When will your health insurance expire and how should you apply for the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA)?
  • Are you eligible to be rehired if another position becomes available?
  • What are some resources to help you apply for unemployment?

Asking these six questions will help prepare you in between jobs.

What to Do Right After You Are Laid Off

There are immediate steps you should take if you are laid off. Certain applications like extending your health insurance have deadlines. Don’t get caught on the phone for hours talking to different departments or miss a deadline.

Here are steps you should take immediately after your employer lets you go.

1. Apply for Unemployment

First, you should find out if you are eligible for unemployment. You can ask your human resources department. If you are, contact your state unemployment office.

2. Apply for COBRA

COBRA allows you and your family members to stay on your former employer’s health insurance for up to 18 months if you suddenly lose your job.

Your employer is not going to set COBRA up for you. You will have to set it up yourself. Make sure to:

  • Research any monthly out-of-pocket costs.
  • Do not miss the deadline for the application.

3. Ask About Severance Pay

You may or may not get a severance package from your employer. To find out, talk to your human resources department. You don’t want to leave your position without it. Severance pay may be a one-time payment or several payments over weeks or months.

4. Secure References

Getting nursing references after you leave may be challenging. Reach out to nurse managers or charge nurses right away. Ask them to write a reference for your next position or ask if they are willing to fill out a reference application online.

5. Take a Break

If you can take a break, take one. Take time for yourself and your family. Use this time to catch up on projects you’ve pushed down your to-do list or catch up with friends and family.

Getting laid off can be a shock to your system. But it happens, and, at times, it isn’t preventable. As long as you’re prepared, hard times may look like a blessing in disguise during a layoff. Remember, you are an asset to any company, and they should be happy to bring you on board your next nursing position.

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