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How to Get Back Into Nursing if You’ve Dropped Out

How to Get Back Into Nursing if You’ve Dropped Out

Angie Strawn, MSN, RN, Associate Dean, University of Phoenix College of Nursing

As an RN with several years’ experience in acute care nursing and supervision, along with more than two decades of experience in community health and education, my best advice to current nurses considering a leave from the field—for whatever reason— is to stay current with their license and skills. Even if that simply means working per diem one weekend per month, it is much easier to keep your skills and experience current than to attempt to re-enter the workforce.

If you are a nurse who still has an active license, but has been out of patient care for less than five years (in most states, five is the maximum number of years a nurse can be out of the field without consequence), a nursing refresher course may be mandated by the perspective employer. If you are a nurse who has been out of the patient care field and allowed your nursing license to become inactive, a nursing refresher course is often mandated by the individual state boards of nursing licensure. These refresher courses can be costly from a time and monetary standpoint. A quick review of available courses ranged from 46 hours (28 theory and 18 clinical) to 240 hours (80 theory and 160 clinical) and from $500 to $940. Be sure to check with your state board for specific requirements. And to perform the clinical component of the refresher courses, a nurse will have to acquire professional liability insurance and find a preceptor, both of which may be difficult from a “risk” perspective due to the gap in experience.

Despite the reportedly significant shortage of nurses in most states, simply taking the refresher course may not make a nurse who has been absent from the discipline an attractive hire for many hospitals or health care systems. An inactive nurse may find it difficult to adapt to the significant changes in the delivery of health care. For instance, technological innovation has increased the use of electronic patient records, patient monitoring and the like. And nursing today is a much more evidence- or research-based practice. For example, a more mature nurse might say, “We do it that way because we’ve always done it that way;” whereas the new thinking is “We do it this way because research indicates this will bring the best result.” There is also a much greater need to understand diversity—whether ethnic, religious, gender, sexual orientation or geographic—in terms of both the people needing service and the providers with whom nurses work.

However, for an inactive nurse who is ready and willing to do the work required to update his or her knowledge and skills, there are opportunities both in and outside of the hospital setting.


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    ugotitright

    12 months ago

    2 comments

    Unfortunately there are so many nurses now if you did not find a job within 6 months of graduation or you have been out of nursing for 6 months even with more education you may never find a job. It is just every kind of nursing wants someone skilled to come in the door and that is just the facts.

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    fosamaxattorneys

    almost 2 years ago

    2 comments

    As what I have heard from medical courses, if you are dropping out, you are not considered as a nursing student's anymore. Because that status represents the kind of students you are and the performance you give as well. On the other hand if you are an RN, your job it depends your patience working for. You have to know to do your job competently. Negligence is never tolerated. http://fosamaxclassactionattorneys.weebly.com

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    LSG

    almost 2 years ago

    2 comments

    One thing about nursing that hasn't changed since I left 10 years ago - the powers that be do NOTHING to help RNs advance. If you've been away from the bedside for over 3 years you've lost your employability. I worked 15 years (ER, ICU, CCU, Surgery). Applied at a short term care facility (think glorified nursing home) and was told that "Short term care is a specially area. You're not qualified." That was the last straw. Told the interviewer that she wouldn't survive one day in a real specialty area. Then I walked out. A nursing license is a bad thing to waste. If I had a job, I would go back to school for NP.

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    MARGAR99

    almost 2 years ago

    2 comments

    SAME here!! I have been out for 12 years, kept my license active and taken 2 refresher courses. NOBODY will hire me even for the most menial nursing position. I was told student nurses had priority over an experienced nurse who has been out of the field and the recruiter even got unnecessarily defense when I was only asking what should someone in my position do to be considered for hire. She said she didn't know! My only option, I believe, to return to the career that I love so much is to go back to school which I am doing. Getting my BSN then possibly on to MSN. I had NO idea it would be this difficult, especially, with a so called "nursing shortage". I'd be willing to do anything to be hired but nobody has any answers so going back to school seems to be the answer to me so I can become a "new nurse" again.

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    bluesy51

    about 2 years ago

    2 comments

    yes.. it is a depressing world out there for nurses who took time off to raise a family. I have been trying to get back in the acute field and I have pretty much given up.. I feel so bad . I really loved nursing . Now the only place I can work is in a nursing home if i want to do clinical nursing. And I dont like working long term care. Nursing is not very family friendly and this myth about the nursing shortage.. yup...there is no real shortage.. The only nurses that are getting high pay and are getting the decent jobs are ER< ICU , etc. I know more than the new grads but , that does''nt seem to matter to the nurse recruiters. And if you want to know , just because I am an older nurse does not mean that I can't learn something new. As far as "evidence based" practice. Nursing has always been evidence based. Just because they have a name for it now does not mean that how nurses practiced in the 80s didnt not have scientific merit. New discoveries are always improving health care. and will continue for years to come. I resent the assumptions that older nurses practice their nursing as " we always have done it this way so why change." .. that is totally false. I am now in school again getting my Masters in Nursing .. hope that will help.. I will have to resign myself to working behind a desk in case management. No wonder nurses are leaving in droves.. We are being driven out of our profession by academic beuracrats.!!

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    gwynnorris_1955

    about 2 years ago

    2 comments

    MY R.N. license has been on inactice status for about 10 years, I remain in good standing with the S.C. LLR board. However I would like to return to nursing, but am having difficulty obtaining information r/t what needs to be done to get back into nursing? Can someone help me. Have been to the website S.C. LLR board and no luck finding information specific to the information I need.

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    tishlott

    over 2 years ago

    2 comments

    came back into the field after being out 14 year, Im 51, and retested for the lpn exam first, no confidence about the rn nclex. Passed the LPn exam and have worked for 3 years as an lpn. I had no idea how much I didnt know, really, glad Ive worked this much . Now trying to decide if Im ready for the rn exam

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    flyawayk

    over 2 years ago

    4 comments

    Had to relocate 5 times due to husbands job promotions so I went into Home Health for flexibility. Now I want to return to the Hospital. Got the call yesterday from hospital recruiter that my resume would not even be reviewed because I have been out of the clinical setting for 5 years....Sorry! It is truly frustrating to realize that you won't even be considered......not your years of experience or knowledge has any value to open doors. We are only electronic submissions anymore.....ughh!

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    flyawayk

    over 2 years ago

    4 comments

    I went into Home Health because my husbands job promotions & 5 relocations was the only flexible way to stay employed. Now we are settled and I wanted to go back to hospital work. Got the call yesterday from hospital recruiter that my resume wouldn't even be submitted for review because it is more than 5 years since I was in that clinical setting. How dissappointing....and they wonder why older nurses leave the profession??!!

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    almost 3 years ago

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    about 3 years ago

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