I've searched for the past two years for info on the nurse refresher programs in Northern VA and found very little info online and became very frustrated so now that I have re-entered the work force and taken a refresher program, I wanted to share my experience.
First of all, I took 13 years off to raise my children, my background was telemetry, ER and ICU. I took the nurse refresher course at George Mason University. It is the only program now that has a class time and a clinical portion (NOVA just recently eliminated their clinical portion) so GMU would be the one I would recommend.
There was no testing involved in the GMU program, very little online work (though they are planning to advance that portion) and the clinical instructors will give you a clinical recommendation at the end (assuming that you are safe to practice). There is an EXTENSIVE amount of reading involved so my advice would be to get ahead on that. (Also i would recommend the soft cover of the medical surgical nursing book
, which comes in two portions, because it makes it easier to bring to class.) It is an expensive book but it is VERY good.
We didn't use the second recommended book on assessments/skills....(sorry i can't remember the name of it)
(We had nurses that came from PA and southern VA to take the course). NOVA has an online portion and two weekends of training I believe. GMU is cheaper than the NOVA program and gives you bedside experience. The clinical portion is going to make it easier for you to get hired.....you will be able to say you have some recent 'bedside' experience and it allows you to network for a job. Our clinical was at INOVA on a telemetry unit. I have spoken to a nurse who took the NOVA refresher and had a much harder time getting a job.
Hospitals wouldn't even consider hiring me without the refresher course so if you are at the stage of wondering whether or not you need it to get hired (depending on how long you have been out), I would say you definitely need it. (I went to a nursing hiring event in DC and the recruiter wouldn't even take my resume since i hadn't taken a refresher course.) I took the refresher course and was quickly hired by INOVA (using the contacts I made there and by going to their open houses) and am now in a 16 week fellowship. It is awesome, and I highly recommend it !
Right now the demand for nurses is not sufficient enough for hospitals to pay for the 'complete refresher' so although it is hard to pay that kind of money, it really it what you have to do right now.
Good luck and I hope this helps!