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Return to practice: nursing

Experienced nurses who want to come back to the profession have much to offer patients, employers and society. Coming back to the profession has never been easier with courses and training on hand to ease the transition and build skills.

If you would like to find out more about returning to nursing please visit the Health Careers website

The #ComeBacktoNursing campaign was commended by the judges in the Best Public Sector Social Media Strategy category of the Social Buzz Awards 2015.

Everyone's journey is different. Fiona takes you through her journey and why she decided to come back to nursing.

Back in 1982 I started my journey to become a nurse, the profession I had always aspired to be a part of. With particular interest in rehab nursing I directed my studies and my career path in that area and developed a real passion for it.

Unfortunately a few years into my career my personal circumstances changed and in order to look after my children I was forced to give up nursing and take on any work that suited my circumstances. When the children grew older and were settled at school I looked for opportunities in the healthcare sector as this is where I felt most at home and I was lucky enough to secure a job as an occupational health assistant. I really enjoyed this and it suited my family life but after a while I needed a new challenge. As I had let my registration lapse I took a different direction and studies business administration at university. Following this I did secure a job in management however that came to an end when the companyceased trading. At that point I was invited back to the occupational health department where I had worked to take up a role as technical instructor.

This was all when I lived in Scotland. When I moved to the north east I applied for a role as a physiotherapy technical instructor on the Hume Unit and was successful. This was a revelation to me – this is how stroke rehab was supposed to work. I loved every minute of it. The nurses were an excellent example of what a rehab nurse should be and I wanted to be a part of it again. I realised that the ward was my natural environment, I felt comfortable and confident there.  A colleague suggested that I should do my return to nursing practice and I jumped at the chance.

The application process for the RTP course was very straightforward. I was nervous when I was selected for interview but everything went smoothly and I was accepted onto the course. I was by far the eldest on the course and I felt as though I was starting my training all over again but once I got back into the swing of it and accepted that things had changed, and improved, it was all very interesting and stimulating.

If you are thinking about returning to practice take a look at Kathryn's journey for inspiration. 

After 10 years out of practice I was extremely nervous about returning however it has been inspirational, informative, fun and exciting. I have absolutely loved it.

I originally trained in The Royal London in 1985 and did my ITU course at Guys, London a few years later. After a couple of hospital ITU posts I landed a job in aviation medicine which was a great experience, travelling the world transporting ITU patients back the UK for treatment. Despite this being exciting and rewarding because of the intensity it’s evidently a job for a younger person. Personal reasons brought me up north where I worked in the Friarge Hospital as a Sister in ITU for four years. As family life developed it was time to give up nursing and concentrate on my children and the family business.

The passion to be a nurse was still with me when the children grew up and became independent, so I jumped at the chance to do the RTP course at Teesside University and was accepted onto the course in October 2014. With support of Dr Pat Bramble, Senior Lecturer on the RTP course and her team, I have been brought up to date to nurse in the modern world both practically and academically. I missed out on doing my degree as I finished nursing just as I was about to start it so I was nervous about going in at such a level and at a reasonably mature age I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to write to the required level. And yes I have had to work hard, however I was led with great expertise and the sense of achievement once reaching near to the end is immense.

I feel that I have a lot of my old self back that has been lost. I know that I have a lot more to give and at a mature age I have a new drive and want to learn each day.

Pending completion of this course I have secured a job in cardiology. I hope to go into cardiac rehabilitation in the near future but know that I need to have a good amount of time back on the ward before doing so. I also have been funded to do my degree which I’m grateful to my trust for and I plan to proceed with my degree and focus on cardiac medicine.

RTP has been a wonderful experience for me. I am so fortunate that I have been able to dip in and out of my career as my life has needed me too and I’m looking forward to the future.

Nicky takes you through her reasons for coming back to nursing.

My name is Nicky and I am married with three grown up children. I began my training as a state registered nurse in 1979 based at Freeman Hospital in Newcastle upon Tyne and after qualifying in 1982, I worked there as a staff nurse on a general surgical ward. Following completion of my district nurse training course in 1985, I worked as a district nurse based at a practice in Gosforth.

I left nursing to have my first child in 1987 and my second in 1989. At the time it was not deemed good practice to job share for reasons of continuity of care, so I decided to leave the profession. However I returned in 1991, initially working unpaid for a few weeks at the Freeman Hospital, until I obtained a district nursing position, working twilight shifts for a practice in Ponteland.

It was a short return as in 1992 for reasons relating to my husband’s job, our family spent a year in Australia. My third child was born in 1993 and I made the conscious decision to stay at home to bring up my three children. I always wanted to return to nursing at some stage and after a break of over twenty years I successfully completed the return to practice course at Teesside University in March 2014.

For someone who had been out of nursing for such a long time, I found the course fairly intense, with a lot of academic work condensed into a short period of time. It was initially very hard studying again and getting to grips with research, referencing, information governance and in particular understanding the concept of critical analysis. Thankfully I was given plenty of support and encouragement along the way.

My practical placement was based at Bishop Auckland Hospital where I completed around 200 hours working on a medical ward. I really enjoyed the experience; it gave me a good insight and developed my practical skills in the workplace. My desire though was to return to community nursing but I needed to maintain some degree of flexibility because of my other commitments. I felt my best option was to find a position as a community bank nurse.

I knew I needed to obtain some experience and as a result of conversations with Dr Pat Bramble, Senior Lecturer at Teesside University, I was encouraged to contact one of the Community Practice Placement Facilitators. This led me to a day shadowing one of the district nursing sisters in my locality.

I am now working as a bank staff nurse in the community for Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust and have just been successful in obtaining a similar position with my local trust in Durham.

I would recommend the return to practice course to anyone who wants to get back into nursing. I wouldn’t be in the position I am now if I hadn’t completed it, but if I were to offer one piece of advice it would be to warn that it is very time consuming and demanding but if you have the drive and are surrounded by support as I was, then you can do it.

Returning to nursing

You may need to undertake a return to practice programme if you've previously been a registered nurse and wish to return to the profession.

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