Has anyone taken the RN Return to Practice at Northern Virginia Community College?

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    I'm considering the RN Return to Practice program at Northern Virginia Community College. I live in Richmond, but I can't find any refresher classes here. The course at Northern Virginia Community College is on-line, but I'd have to go to northern Virginia for two IV/skills weekends. They say they can arrange for me to complete the 2 week clinicals here in Richmond at CJW. I'd looked at the refresher program at George Mason, but it sounds like lots of driving/hotels (4 Mondays, and 4 three-day weekends in northern Virginia.) Northern Virginia Community College costs $2400, while George Mason costs $1200. I'd love to get some feedback from anyone who has taken either of these programs, or knows of any similar programs closer to Richmond?
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  3. 8 Comments so far...

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    So, I'm actually looking at those two programs as well as a number of online programs (that don't include a clinical component)....did you decide which program to go with? I live in Fairfax, so the drive isn't the issue. I'm looking at the online- no clinical- because taking two weeks out for clinicals right now would be a little tough b/c of my current work situation.

    I was also wondering what employers think of these refresher programs...for $2400...I'd like them to think it was fan-damn-tastic!
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    I haven't signed up for a refresher program yet. It's definitely a lot of money and both programs would require taking time off from my current job for clinicals -- 8 Mondays (George Mason) vs. 2 weeks (Northern VA). If I was sure I had a job lined up, I wouldn't mind taking time off. However, I haven't been able to find anyone yet who would consider hiring me if I completed a refresher course.

    My last job in a clinical setting was 18 years ago, and I've been a nurse paralegal and claims reviewer since then. I'm also 58 years-old. The instructor at one of the refresher programs said most of the people in their class have been out 10 years and just want to return to their former jobs.

    I spoke to one recruiter who said she didn't know much about refresher programs -- but she thought I'd been out of nursing too long to be hired even with a refresher course -- things had changed too much, she said. Another hospital recruiter left me a voice mail message saying they don't have any fellowship/preceptorship programs. They do have a Pathways in Nursing program, but she said it's not something you can apply for -- I'd have to actually apply for and be hired for a specific job, then request to take the program.

    I'm not getting a feeling that I would be in great demand ... but I'll keep calling around. The law firms just love me, so maybe I should stay put.
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    Hi there-

    Thought I'd follow back up on this. I'm leaning towards an online course in Ohio (think ND has one as well) that includes a clinical component. The downside is that you have to arrange the clinical component, and the program coordinator was pretty honest when she said that some of her students have had difficulty doing that because the market is pretty tight right now so hospitals aren't as willing to be helpful. And, there isn't a skills lab component tied to it. It's $700-800 compared to even the $1300 of GMU.

    You probably noticed that NOVA actually offers a couple skills based courses- IV therapy, phlebetomy for health care providers (you do have to have a letter from a facility stating that you need the course to be able to take this one) and an online health assessment class. How you do an assessment online is a little foreign to me.

    IF you could arrange a strong clinical- maybe even more than the 40 hours required by a lot of the online programs, then the skills based stuff might not be as important.

    ALL that said, I took the liberty of emailing about a dozen nurse recruiters at local hospitals to ask about whether a refresher course was worthwhile. (In hindsight, I should have asked if they would hire someone right now if they had that under their belt, but I was looking for quick and dirty responses.)

    Most folks who replied said "sure, it would be great", one person also asked about any refresher courses I'd heard about because she gets asked for referrals to these programs frequently, and two respondents replied (honestly) that even with a refresher course the job market is really tight and they are turning away new grads and even experienced nurses in droves. One said she felt it would partly depend upon how much clinical time I had in before I went away from nursing- if I was working 10-20 years and then took time away that would weigh more heavily in their decision than if it was just a few. I did have one recruiter who responded today that said it was her hospital's policy that if a nurse has been out of practice for 5 or more years they MUST have a refresher course. I'm waiting to hear back on what the requirements would be for her hospital (# hrs, clinical or no, etc).

    I did have someone say she'd love to talk to me more about a job, but she's not in this immediate area!!

    I was considering asking the Mount Carmel coordinator if I could possibly do a couple different clinical sites- IF I could arrange them- instead of just 1 site for 40 hrs. I'm not intersted in working in acute care and don't really want to do a rotation in acute care. I've had a family member in the hospital for a couple weeks and I stayed overnight with her, and it was eye-opening seeing the RNs virtually practicing primary care for their patients- bedpans to meds, even though they had CNAs on staff they were few and far between. It's just not a good fit for where I am in life.

    I'm thinking if I tried a couple sites I could possibly use the opportunity to reach out to places/sites where I might be interested in working (if they are hiring and would have me). And, it would help me determine if I really want to go back to the clinical side of things or stick with health policy work.

    As for your current position, maybe you could sell it to your employer that they should not only let you take the course and have the time off, but pay for it as well! It can't hurt to have fresh clinical skills in your position.

    Anyhoo- love to know what you end up deciding!

    Thanks,
    Jolie
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    I think Jolie's point about using the clinical for networking is key. I was told by the nurse manager of the unit I had worked for that if I had the refresher, I could get a job there. But, that is at least in part because they know me. Is anyone from your old job still in the system? I think that right now it's more about who you know. Figure out what job you want first and then work specifically toward that job by volunteering, networking, and meeting the specific requirements of that job, kwim.
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    Yes, I'm finding that it's definitely "who you know" that is key to finding a job right now -- especially if you've been out for any length of time.

    I decided to enroll in the NOVA refresher -- even if I continue working for law firms or reviewing claims, a refresher will be very helpful. I requested CJW for the two week clinical component here in Richmond.

    Before I could enroll in the class, I had to get a physical, TB skin test, MMR/Varicella titres and Hep B shots. I also had to renew my BLS, get professional liability insurance and order a background check (including criminal/sex offender.)

    The instructor has been great. The on-line component consists of reading a med-surg textbook, watching on-line modules and taking a graded open book test each week for 4 weeks. There are also two skills weekends at NOVA. If I maintain a passing grade, I'm eligible for the clinicals.

    Additional Information:

    Here is another refresher course that the Virginia Nurses Association told me about -- http://www.learningsvc.com. Here's some interesting information on the complexities of finding a clinical rotation (including contracts, fees, insurance, etc.) http://www.learningsvc.com/finding_a..._rotation.html as well as http://www.learningsvc.com/clinical_requirements.html Very interesting reading...

    North Carolina seems to have a very organized RN refresher program. Virginia RN's can take the on-line self-paced theory component for $625 through UNC, but the clinical component appears to be for NC residents only. http://www.fridaycenter.unc.edu/cp/catalog/nursing.html
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    I'm a little jealous!!
    I'm so on the fence on taking the course- it was the 2 week clinical component that comes at a prime time for my current job that held me back.

    Can you choose where @ CJW you do your clinicals or does it have to be Med-Surg?

    I would LOVE to hear your commentary as you progress through the course or when you finish. I'm sure it'll be great- just wondering if it'll be $2300 great. I would love, love, love it if someone would actually do a review of the content of a bunch of different programs that can be done online and post a review. It's so tough to make a decision and just hope that the content is worth the money.

    I had looked at the course recommended by the Va nurses association but they won't allow you to do a clinical rotation unless you are taking their course as a requirement of the Board of Nursing for re-licensure, and to be honest their website looks low rent compared to most of the other programs. Maybe the content is great, but it just doesn't present itself very professionally- and it sounds like they mail you stuff, not necessarily an online course.

    Anyhoo- look forward to hearing more!! Good luck and have fun.
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    According to NOVA's website, the two week clinical experience is on a med-surg unit. I'll let you know if I find out there's some flexibility with the actual unit assignment.

    CJW was the only option for clinicals in Richmond. She did say if I was willing to travel, there were other options. I asked about flexibility with the timing of the clinicals because of a conflict with my job (which may not be a problem now.) I was told there was some flexibility, but they try to schedule clinicals as close as possible to the final skills weekend. Clinicals are full-time and based on the preceptor's actual schedule (days/evenings -- either three 12 hr shifts or ten 8 hour shifts.)

    The required textbook is "Medical-Surgical Nursing: Critical Thinking in Client Care", and so far, most of the on-line modules/videos/animations seem to go along with chapters in that textbook (many appear to also be included on the DVD in the back of the text.)

    I also had to go on-line and purchase a separate $44 on-line access code which is available for this textbook. I made the mistake of buying the text from Amazon -- if I'd bought the text through the campus bookstore or the bookstore's website, the access code would have been included in the price of the book.

    The class is accessed on-line via www.mynursinglab.com. I have assignments which need to be completed by a given deadline each week, but everything is self-paced within the week. Weekly assignments include reading 5 to 8 chapters from the textbook, completing on-line modules, watching some on-line animations/videos, and taking a one hour weekly test. I've been told it should take anywhere from 25 - 40 hours each week to complete the required independent study. The reading takes the most time.

    The "IV Infusion Therapy" two day skills weekend is not mandatory, but it's already included in the cost of the refresher class -- if enrolled in separately, it costs $400. The second skills weekend is mandatory, and is scheduled for the weekend prior to clinicals.

    The instructor and the coordinator have been absolutely great so far, and that's been invaluable. I'll let you know how it goes.
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    I'm curious about the NOVA program. Is there a good pharmacology review? How about wound care?
    Thanks!


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