Why You Should Keep Your License (aka Meet Rene)

Maybe you are burned out, maybe you believe that you made a mistake in choosing a career – for whatever reason, you are considering letting your license lapse. Without a doubt, you can never imagine wanting to work again in a clinical capacity and know that you will never need your license again. Before you let your license lapse, I’d like to introduce you to Renee.

I met Renee last week as she checked my family onto our cruise ship. She noticed that we were from Charlotte, a town where she had lived during a pivotal juncture in her career. When the computers malfunctioned we had a chance to talk – and she asked that I somehow find a way to tell her story.

Renee had a master’s degree in recreational rehab. She had worked in various rehab facilities and had advanced to a director’s level position. Then she and her pediatric resident husband had a baby. They were moving to Charlotte for his fellowship year and she had a job in place as director of recreational therapy for a large rehab facility. She ended up resigning from a job she never started because she wanted more time with her newborn. She thought she was going to take a brief sabbatical and then return to work. Within 3 years she had another 2 children and her return to work never occurred. In the midst of dealing with 3 children under the age of 4, she did not have time to take the continuing ed courses she needed to keep her license so she let it lapse.

Her husband finished his residency and began his career as a pediatrician. Together, they decided that Renee should continue in her role as a stay-at-home mom. Although he made a good salary, he had undergrad and medical school loans that precluded saving for retirement. He and Renee agreed to pay off his loans and then once the kids went off to college they would begin to save for retirement.

And then her husband died suddenly. Renee had not worked in 20 years and she and her husband had not saved any money. She looked for a job but was unsuccessful. She no longer had a license which precluded her ability to get a job in vocational rehab. The worst part was, the license she had had long ago been grandfathered into another license. She didn’t even have the opportunity to reactivate her former license. With no license and no recent job experience Renee was unable to find a job in her field.

Today she works 2 days a week checking in people for cruise vacations and then 4 days a week at the Publix grocery store as a cashier.

She thought her life was on one trajectory – the wife of a successful physician – and now she is working 2 minimum wage jobs to try and make ends meet. She still does not have any money saved for retirement. She doesn’t care if she would be burned out or if she had made a mistake in her career choices. She just wishes that that she had kept her license current and had options.

My advice as a professional in career services is to always maintain your license – find a way to get your continuing education, find a way to pay the licensure fees. You worked hard to obtain your credentials. Don’t lose something that is difficult or impossible to regain. You never know what life holds and the job that burns you out might be the job that saves you from a lifestyle that burns you out.

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