How to return to nursing
If you’ve taken a career break, rest assured there are plenty of opportunities to refresh your skills and knowledge and return to the nursing workforce. With an extreme shortage of nurses up and down the country, national bodies – not to mention local care providers – are very keen to make it easy for people who have previously practised to come back to the world of nursing.
How do I return to nursing?
If you’re no longer on the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) register, then you’ll need to rejoin before you can work as a nurse.
Should you have you’ve completed 450 hours of registered practice in the past three years, or 750 hours in the past five years, then you can simply reapply to join the register. You’ll also need to have completed 35 hours of continuing profession development (CPD) in the previous three years.
If you don’t meet these requirements, then you’ll complete a return to practice course. These are offered at a number of UK universities.
In England, the return to practice programme is run by Health Education England, which will pay course and payment fees and also offer a one-off £500 to cover childcare, travel and book costs. There is a special course if you want to return to work as a general practice nurse – and it is open to everyone, regardless of whether they previously worked in general practice or not.
How long the course lasts will depend on how long you have been away from the profession. It could be as short as three months, or continue for up to 12 months. The idea is to make sure you have all the skills and knowledge you need to return to the profession.
Once your course is complete, you’ll be able to reregister with the NMC and apply for jobs.
How do I find return to practice courses and placement opportunities?
All return to practice courses combine ‘classroom’ learning with clinical placements. You can either apply to a university which will help you find a placement, and/or contact a local healthcare organisation that offers return to practice placements. Often you can contact a local trust to talk through possible placements and register your interest. Remember there are private healthcare organisations that offer placements too.
Some trusts enable you to work as a healthcare assistant while you’re completing your return to practice course, meaning you have an income while you’re learning.
What happens when I begin a new job?
Returning nurses (just as with newly-qualified nurses) should have a period of preceptorship. This is a time during which in which you are supported, in a formal way, by a more experienced nurse who will help you regain confidence as an independent professional. This is true no matter which environment you’re working in – mental health, community, hospital or elsewhere.