Getting Back into the Nursing Field
Hollis Forster, RNC-NP
If you have been out of the nursing scene because of a lapse in your license or a status of inactive, you will need to take a refresher course before working again. If you have thought about starting another career as a nurse, you can be sure your community needs you. Welcoming nurses back to the field is a way to help relieve the nursing crisis that is affecting American hospitals and health care systems.
But, how do you start the process of finding a refresher course? First, call the nursing practice board in the state where you wish to practice. States have different requirements for the time that needs to be spent in theory and clinical practice before entering the field as an RN again. Actually the requirements vary widely. Some require 160 hours of study, and the hours can be a combination of theory and practice in a clinical setting. However, others require 240 hours with 120 hours of clinical practice required. The clinical practice time is set up with a nurse mentor on a temporary license after the theory portion of the course has been completed.
So, call your state to see what the requirements will be. Then begin looking at courses. There are many possible. You can get the refresher course with the theory section on-line, at a campus or in a hospital educational institution. Costs vary from $500 to much more. But you might be able to find a hospital that can offer the course without cost if you sign a promise to work there after you have completed the course. Many courses are self-paced, although they may have a limit on how long you can take. And also, when thinking of this path, remember that along with the cost of the refresher course, you may face other costs. These include:
1. The cost of a CPR certificate
2. HIPAA Training, OSHA training
3. Immunizations, TB testing, Hepatitis B vaccine
4. Malpractice insurance
5. Uniforms or scrubs
These refresher courses include many great classes. One school that I found outlines their objectives which cover the scope of modern nursing practice. You will be able to increase your knowledge by gaining these skills:
1. An understanding of current social and cultural implications of nursing practice.
2. A review and enhancement of your previous skills.
3. Individualized nursing care plans and assessing patient needs in order to develop these.
4. Knowledge of medical and surgical conditions, therapies, procedures, current diagnostic and treatment measures.
( from South Dakota State University, College of Nursing, Program Overview, 2008.)
Many nurses who have been out of the work force for years are nervous about returning, and anxious about being with patients again. The courses included in these refresher programs are developed to help re-orient you to the current trends in nursing practice and re-introduce you to your bedside manner. You had a strong nursing foundation, never be afraid that the basics are well planted and with a little brush-up on new ideas and techniques you can readjust well to the nursing field. Re-enter the field and know that many people are behind you to help you be successful in your new endeavor.