Return to nursing after more than a decade?

  1. Hi all,
    I'm new here and looking for advice. I got my BSN back in 1992. Worked for about 4 years in a hospital pediatric unit then went to prn status for awhile. Then worked for about a year for an adult daycare center. Got married had kids and eventually put my license on inactive status in 2001 to raise my kids (one of which has autism). I've been at home since 2001 and have considered reactivating my license since my kids are now in jr high/high school.
    For the past year I have worked part time as a PCA for a home health agency just to get my feet wet again in the working world. I've really enjoyed it and am now considering taking the Nurse Refresher course to get my license back. I have a few questions, if anyone has the time to reply.

    1: I'm looking at the refresher courses . I'd love some feedback on how you felt the courses were. My fear is that I have been out of the field so long that even a refresher course couldn't bring me back to a comfortable skill level.

    2: Is it worth it? I really need a somewhat flexible schedules, which is why the home health pca job has worked out well for me this past year other than the fact that it doesn't pay hardly anything. I do not want to work in a hospital anymore, to be honest, and I only want to work part time. Is it worth getting my license back? Is it realistic to think there are any jobs out there that have flexible hours for a nurse?

    3: I've even considered just getting my home health nurse aide certificate and doing that, rather than the longer course to get my license back, but I feel I would be wasting my nursing degree. But I've been told by a nurse I work with that nurses aide home visits are flexible and you get paid by the visit. Has anyone ever gone from RN to nurse aide? Does that sound just like a ridiculous idea?

    4: Has anyone gone through the trouble and expense of doing the nurse refresher course and then not been able to find a job? My fear is I'm too old to start over (I'll be 43 soon).

    Any advice or thoughts are welcome.

    Thanks for reading!
  2. Visit notsurewhattodo profile page

    About notsurewhattodo

    Joined: Nov '12; Posts: 30; Likes: 21


  3. by   somenurse
    i don't have any knowledge to share with you on these very valid questions, but, wanted to post so i could follow this thread myself. I am out of work for five years now, and also feel very nervous about going back.

    if it helps, if you scroll back in this area of the forums, there are some other threads on some refresher courses.

    wishing you the best of luck!!
    ~jean marie
    Last edit by somenurse on Nov 29, '12 : Reason: to click on "follow" thread
  4. by   notsurewhattodo
    Thank you, Jean Marie, and best of luck to you too.
  5. by   kcmylorn
    I found your post very interesting and am also going to keep reading your post as I am also interested in this. From every thing I have read- a refresher course doesn't always guarentee the ability to attain employment. I guess it's up to the individual on how iportant the expense is( some courses cost over $2,000) and whre you apply for a job. But then you have done come PCA work since which could be looked at as current skills. I think I recall when I let one of my RN licenses lapse because I was working in the neighboring state, I had to explain what I have been doing since the last time my license was active. That may be a sticky point because of the PCA status employment. For me it wasn't because I was still working as an RN so it was not a big deal. It was just a matter of cost to reactivate- which was almost $500.00( you pay the application/renewal fee plus for all the years it was inactive, that's in my state) You may want to check that out before you officially write it down and apply. You could say your were volunteering? to take care of some one. You may still be held accountable as an RN if something happens working as a PCA. I would ask one of the more nursing legal saavy nurses on this site this question or post it it on "nursing spectrum's "Dear Donna" or nusing spectrums' nurse lawyer- Dear Nancy"(Brent)
    I will stay tuned here for sure.
  6. by   Curious1alwys
    Hey, good for you on deciding to return! Couple things:

    Don't even worry at all about the return. Refresher courses are not hard and you will quickly be back in the full swing of things. I had less clinical experience than you did and was fine.

    That said, finding employment, especially if you live in a saturated area, will be a definite uphill climb. By far the hardest part. Just know that going in. If you need or desire any additional info you can PM me. I did manage to get a very part time agency job but it is not for me and a hospital is a near impossible nut to crack (around here).I hope you have better luck than I did, here's hoping nursing will come back one day....I'm going to school in the meantime....

    Yes, look into your liability as a PCA....they will hold you to the level of your highest license so that job will become hard for you to keep once you have your RN license back....

    Good Luck!
  7. by   Bubbles
    You have your BSN and you have experience so look at those as positives! As far as being almost 43 that is young! Many people go back to college when they are older than you! When I went back to college most of us were around age 40 and the only person who was really worried about going back to school at such an 'advanced age' was only 25! Personally, I did the refresher course twice - once I completed the clinicals at an acute hospital on two different floors - med surg and orthopedics. I was working full time as a nurse consultant and knew I would be dealing with orthopdic cases which I felt was my weakest area. I had been out of nursing about 8 yrs. The second time I also had been inactive in nursing about 8 yrs. and completed the entire refresher program. Because I could not do hospital nursing (neck and back injuries from MVA) and because it seemed hospital nurses were really unhappy I was not sure what I wanted to do. But there are so many opportunities in nursing that did not exist when I first graduated from a three year hospital based diploma program. I would go for the refresher course and focus on your positives. Listen to the others about working as a CNA - it is not going in the right direction. School nursing, hospice on call, and insurance medical record review might be of interest or working part time for agencies. Just my thoughts. Wishing you success.
  8. by   notsurewhattodo
    Thank you all for your kind and honest replies. It's really given me a lot of things to think about. One complicating factor for me personally is my youngest boy has autism and the change of me working at all has been hard on him. I worry about the time to do Refresher then what kind of job could I get that would be flexible and not a lot of hours. He still needs me even though he is 14 now.
    It's so hard knowing what to do that would be best for myself and for my family. I still have a lot of thinking to do.
  9. by   Curious1alwys
    I don't know the details of you situation but in my opinion family always comes first. If you can afford it, why not make that your priority?

    Sometimes I think it would be nice to have a "career" or even make a few bucks but I am eeking out as long as I can with my young ones. Like they say, they are only young once! Financially we are really hurting but as long as I don't have to live in a box I am OK, lol... For me to work full time and utilize full time daycare it would very much have to be a dream job!

    Problem with the jobs is.....when u come back after a long period of time out almost every employer willing to give you a chance (if that does indeed happen) will expect you to work full time. I've been working very part time but it's almost been harder since you just are not there often enough to really get back in the swing. To be honest, if I were you, I'd just put the refresher off and keep working as you are for extra money until you can really give the career your all. I'm pretty sure it is what I should have done. Fortunately, if I need to take yet another refresher, I get a discount!
  10. by   notsurewhattodo
    ^ Thank you for that. I have always put my family first. That's why I've been out of nursing for so long. When my second son was diagnosed with autism, my career went by the wayside and all focus for the past 14 years has been on that. I've spent these years taking him to speech therapy, occupationaly therapy, neurologists, psychologists, social skills classes, special sporting programs. etc etc etc.
    My husband says I still have a lot of mothering to do and I think in his heart he really doesn't want me to go back to school and get my RN license back, and I certainly do not want to leave my son as he enters highschool next year, so that's why I took this little PCA job. It's very flexible and I can pick and choose the hours. It doesn't pay hardly anything but it helps. I just miss being a nurse I guess.
    But I do thank you for reminding me that family has to come first. You are right.
  11. by   Curious1alwys
    I totally understand where you are coming from about missing being a nurse. I had a hard time becoming a stay at home mom for that reason. I felt like all I could compute anymore was dirty diapers, lol. I craved learning, knowledge, and feeling like an intelligent, productive member of society! But remember, as it was in my case, the grass is always greener. Yes, get back to learning and earning....a refresher course, a BSN program, a part time job....I traded time with the kids, time for myself, and increased stress in the form of learning the job, passing tests, writing papers. School is manageable but the job.....I want to puke before I even go there every shift, still so stressed as new grads are (since essentially I still am one). The only way to kick that is to pass through it but that is much, much, easier when you are very frequently exposed. With school and kids I wasn't working enough for that to happen. The job wasn't in a hospital so it was not going to get me anywhere. I was treated like an outsider by some of the other employees because, after all, I barely worked. Worse, some were judgmental that I could even afford to work part time. It really is like you feel like you have your big toe dipped in a little bit here and a little bit there but you are not doing a good job at anything! Maybe it would be different with a really stellar orientation and a big hospital system (or full time!)but again, you won't get that unless you are working full time. At least not in my parts of the world.
    That said, we are all different. You could do what I did and just looked at the refresher as a risk. I just had to do it even though I did not know how it would all turn out for me. For me, it renews my license at least in the next 5 yrs. When I enrolled I could look at trends but I did not know 100% if I could get a job or not. So I had to go for it. But with two kids under 4 and amidst the sick season, it is easy for me to see why so many moms do whatever they have to do to stay at home at least until their kids are school age. Daycare is so expensive and finding sick child care is so hard. And if you are like me and have almost no family help, it gets even harder. This is why I say I'll keep plugging along in school, at least it keeps my mind in it a bit, and maybe the nursing field will once again experience a mild shortage and there will be jobs out there. I am hoping by then my kids will be in school, at least.
    I don't want to discourage you. Just know the refresher is doable and it really could get you a job if the market is better where you are. You are working part time now as a nurse aid, which is a hard job, so it's possible you would not find it as challenging as me, especially since you have more clinical experience. You need to value your family but don't forget yourself either. We moms are good at that. If not pursuing nursing will leave you unfulfilled and dissatisfied, you need to look at that too......
  12. by   somenurse
    OH, yes, i so so understand and hope that any parent raising kids, who wants to, or can find a way, to stay at home, or only work very part time, i can so understand that urge, very much. I did not have that option, and did work full time, and raise my kids part time, which was not ideal for my family, but, i did the best i could at the time, but, an exhausted mom is not always able to do her best. On bright side, for the bulk of that time, their father was home with them, if i was at work, so i was lucky that way.

    In later years, my best pal/next door neighbor,
    took my kids in the early morning hours before school started,
    and i was home to get her kids and mine off the bus each day, after school. No cash, we just traded hours, i did after school, and neighbor did before school. Also cool, we had keys to each other homes, in case either kid said "oh no! i forgot my violin!" or whatever.

    Again, another super lucky set up to have best pal next door. Lol, our kids would have been back and forth between the 2 houses, whether us moms were working or not, ha ha.

    on the other hand, i know a young nurse who is a parent, who works parttime, cuz she wants to, and has that option to only work part time. She really could stay at home if she wanted to,
    but, she chooses to work, to stay sane.
    For her personally, being home 24/7 with a bunch of rowdy kids is more stressful to HER personally, if she does NOT get breaks from it. Lol, she often says, she goes to work to relax, hee hee.
    (but, she HAS been in work force steadily, so she IS now comfortable being at work, which is not the same as what we are talking about----nurses who have been out long enough, that we've lost our confidence about working).
    She says if she stays home 24/7, she goes nutzzzzz, and feels she is less patient with her children, when she is with them 24/7.

    guess it shows we are all unique individuals, and what works best for one person,
    might not be best answer for another.

    Imo, whether a person is a mom or not,
    if someone has been out of the workforce long enough that they have lost confidence (maybe that feeling is appropriate, OR, maybe for some who havent been gone that long, maybe for some it is overly large in their minds than it should be)
    going back will be challenging, especially at first. Maybe is the optimist in me, or maybe it's just the lovely coffee i am sipping on, or the lovely mood i am in right now with the sun streaming in the window,
    but, i feel like, if/when we go back,
    that we will find our way again. That our confidence will come back, slowly and appropriately, as we see our own selves doing it well again.
    nope, not at first, is how i picture it. Nope, my guess is, at first, we'll all be terrified, unsure, nervous, clumsy, and worse, somewhat inept. That fear is probably a good thing. I kinda think, i'd be a bit worried about any nurse who has not been working for a long time, and says, "oh no big deal, no worry, i'll do fine"
    cuz, i think our fears and concerns ARE appropriate. NO doubt, there are things we will have to learn, and catch up on.

    but, i also think this fear, however appropriate, IS logical, and appropriate, BUT that it will pass as we either take refresher courses or get a job with a great mentoring set up, or however we get back on the horse,
    i do think, with time, and education we'll probably slowly re-gain our confidence and skills back. that's my guess, anyway.
    Last edit by somenurse on Dec 4, '12
  13. by   notsurewhattodo
    You guys really rock. Thank you for giving me so many things to think about. You are right, my confidence is pretty much nil.
    At this point I don't think I am going to do the Refresher course. Maybe sometime in the future. My husband and kids want me at home and I guess that's where I need to be for now. Some days I do feel as though I am wasting my training though. ugh. But I do remember the stress of hospital work and that part I definitely do not miss. Raising an autistic child is stress enough.
    Sounds like you ladies have worked out what works well for your own situation and your own families. I'm sure I'll figure this out too in time. I just do not want to be 50 years old and going back to get that Refresher course (if I am ever going to). So I feel like time is ticking.
  14. by   somenurse
    Quote from notsurewhattodo
    You guys really rock. Thank you for giving me so many things to think about. You are right, my confidence is pretty much nil.
    At this point I don't think I am going to do the Refresher course. Maybe sometime in the future. My husband and kids want me at home and I guess that's where I need to be for now. Some days I do feel as though I am wasting my training though. ugh. But I do remember the stress of hospital work and that part I definitely do not miss. Raising an autistic child is stress enough.
    Sounds like you ladies have worked out what works well for your own situation and your own families. I'm sure I'll figure this out too in time. I just do not want to be 50 years old and going back to get that Refresher course (if I am ever going to). So I feel like time is ticking.

    Yes, i have an autistic nephew, a very severe case of autism, too, and no denying that IS a huge challenge. His mother, my sisinlaw, is pretty much a saint, nicest most devoted mom you can find,
    but, even she says, she has to have time away,
    whether it is part time job, or some group/activity she is involved with, whatever, as doting and dedicated as she is, she can't do it 24/7. I don't think i could either.

    but, my nephew, despite being very severely autistic, goes to some type of school, mon-fri, and so she is free during those hours to do whatever. And she does DO whatever! YAY for her, and whew!

    If your community offers a similar program for children in need, perhaps your son could also join in, too, and thus, freeing you up for many hours per week,
    to focus on other things you are interested in??

    just a thought. I do think moms of special needs kids need a lot of support/outlets/etc. For some, working (even part time) or going to school (even part time) might provide a much needed respite from the sometimes overwhelming frustrations faced by parents of special needs kids (or even parents of 'normal" kids---i think parenthood is challenging, period!! imo. Evne "normal" teenagers can make a mom wanna pull her hair out, mmHmm.),
    and even going part time, might alleviate some of your concerns about not using your training. There are many less stressful forms of nursing,
    than hospital nursing, btw. Lots of other ways to nurse.

    but yeah, we are all unique individuals, and what helps one parent cope,
    might not work for another parent. BEST OF LUCK!!!
    Last edit by somenurse on Dec 4, '12