Returning to Nursing In Later Life

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Going back to nursing after having time off to raise a family can seem like a daunting idea. Things will have changed, depending on how long you have been away from the profession. However, there are a number of things that you can do to ensure that you have the best chance of getting the right job for you.

Return to Practice Programs

These programs prepare you for re-entry on to the professional register and you cannot return to work without it. Return to Practice programs are usually run by NHS Trusts and university schools of nursing jointly. There is no guarantee of a job at the end, but you will have the knowledge and skills to return to work, no matter how long you’ve been away from nursing.

You can choose between part-time or full-time training, which will usually take between three and six months, depending on the program.

You can find information on the courses in your area with the NHS course finder.

You can expect your course fees to be paid, as well as additional financial support towards travel, childcare and book costs. You will receive theory and clinical-based training, and get to practice skills. You have access to a mentor and after you’ve got a job, you’ll get preceptorship support. This means that your return to practice program is tailored to you and your needs.

Your suitability is usually assessed by an interview, a CRB check and occupational health check and NMC verification as well two references from your last employer.


After Re-Registration

Once you have re-registered, then you can start your job search. If finding permanent work is proving difficult, temporary or part time work will give you recent experience where you need it. Get in contact with old colleagues, local nursing homes and recruitment agencies such as Nursing Personnel to give yourself the best chance of a new job. Let people know that you’re returning to nursing, and try to be flexible in where you will consider working.

Keep Up To Date

If you’re worried that you haven’t kept up to date with progression in nursing, then there’s no need to worry. However, you can get up to date with nursing magazines and websites such as The Nursing Times.  They have articles on all the latest news and research for you to get back up to speed with, as well as providing a community to question and involve yourself in.


If you are looking to return but you’re not quite ready for the Return to Practice course, then consider volunteering. You can brush up on your skills, and help build your confidence back up in a low risk environment, as well as meet people in the professional. On top of this, there could be a chance that your volunteer position will put you in a good place if a full time paid position were to come up.


Become Computer Proficient

It’s important to be able to use a computer as a nurse in this day and age, so depending on how long you have been out of the nursing profession, you may want to take a course to make sure that you’re up to date with data entry, internet searches and basic word processing.

Don’t Sell Yourself Short

You have had time off, yes, but there is no need to apologise for it. Think about how your maturity and other life skills that you’re bringing back to the position, and use this to your advantage.

Going back into nursing is a daunting prospect, and it can take a long time for you to fully adjust, so don’t be too hard on yourself. It takes a lot of courage to re-enter nursing, and you may find it difficult to get used to your working environment.



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