The day after: I guess I would have to say the day after was not as eventful as the day of the lay off. I knew the layoff was coming so I was somewhat emotionally prepared. My position had already been seized by another nurse with more seniority the week before.

I was the least senior nurse at United Hospital and had only two options: I could take the only open hospital position that I qualified for, which was a less than ideal schedule and not my shift of choice, or I could accept a voluntary layoff and lose my insurance benefits at the end of the year. I opted to take the position in order to buy more time.

I knew that there would be another round of nurses with more seniority bidding on open positions and relieving less senior nurses of their jobs the following week. The layoff was inevitable. There would not be enough positions to employ all the United Nurses facing layoffs.

On December 18, one week before Christmas, I was scheduled to again meet with the Minnesota Nurses Association representatives, United Hospital human resources and my nurse manager. I had obviously been bumped out of the newly acquired position or I wouldn't be scheduled to meet with them again. This day, I just knew that I would no longer be employed by the hospital. My manager was pretty certain as well.

I was so nervous that I could hardly think straight as I was passing morning meds to the patients. I decided not to take a patient assignment that morning and just pass meds for another nurse's patients. My meeting was scheduled shortly after the shift started and I was pretty certain that I wouldn't be returning to the nurse's station.

The meeting went as expected, and I -- along with several colleagues -- was left with separation of employment forms in hand and a list of current open positions for other Allina Hospital and Clinics facilities. I walked back to my locker with my nurse manager, turned in my name badge and cleaned out my locker.

With teary eyes and a bruised ego I shuffled down the hall and headed home. The first thing I did was call my husband and tell him the news. We were both prepared that this would be the outcome, but I still had to hold back the tears. This was the first time in my career I had ever lost my job. I felt very tender the remainder of the day, like I would crumble if I had the opportunity to let down my guard.

I just couldn't wrap my head around it. I questioned God, why this had happened. I felt so sure that he told me that this was the job to accept. I had had two other interviews that same week, I was offered this position, but I felt that this is the one I was supposed to take. I couldn't understand why I was led to take this position, only to lose it in a few short months.

By no means had it been an easy transition for me. I have spent most of my career in pediatric home care and preferred to continue working in pediatrics, but no hospital opportunities were available. This drastic change from home care to the hospital along with changing my patient population was more than difficult. It was one of the most challenging times in my career.

It takes time to rebuild the skills necessary to do bedside care, especially in this age, when patients are more complex and acute than in past years. Learning electronic medical records was overwhelming. I battled with feelings of incompetency and second guessed my abilities as a nurse. I felt like a brand new nurse. I had to push myself hard to keep my spirits up and allow myself grace during this transition. Now it seemed all for nothing. I was unsure why I had to go through it all.

All this puts into context the unusual feelings that I felt the day after the layoff. It was a bittersweet event. On one hand I was surprisingly relieved to no longer face a difficult transition, and on the other hand I was uncertain about the prospects for a job.

I knew the situation around the Twin Cities and it wasn't good for nurses. It would be especially bleak for me, since I had not had at least a year of recent hospital experience. Being a nurse for 17 years did not carry as much weight as having recent hospital experience.

I wasn't too anxious though, because I truly believed that God had a plan and this layoff did not take Him by surprise. I knew that I had to do my part and try to look for a job, and that I couldn't change what happened. I decided to make the best of the situation and enjoy having time off with my kids and family during the holidays.

Now: I did not procrastinate my job search. I immediately looked online at the web sites for all the major area hospitals and put in applications, however slim the chances might be. I had even begun to do this before the official layoff. I contacted recruiters and managers that I knew to see what opportunities were available as well as to get the climate of hiring in the area. I also worked with recruiters from Allina to try to find placement in other locations. Most jobs were so far from my house and the ones that were within reasonable distance had more experience requirements than I could offer. I don't feel deeply hurt by a rejection letter anymore. I have had more in this last year than in my whole life.

After searching for a job all summer, before landing my position at United in October, I understood how tight the market had become. I had very specific criteria for a job that I felt would make my complex schedule and multiple demands allow for a successful balance.

But, nurses have to make compromises these days, whether it is a long commute, working second and third shifts or working more or less hours than they would like. This market has caused me to reevaluate what I can and am willing to do to find a job.

This past year, for the first time in my career I have had to work night shifts. For this job search I may have to make more compromises that will further strain my work-life balance. I may have to work evening shifts and not see my children as much. I may have to work more hours than I think is humanly possible with all the demands on my time. I may even have to give up my 12 hour shifts, which make the delicate balance between work, family, personal time and being a college student a reality. I don't know how it will end up, but I do have faith that it will end up and not down.