Earned license 3 years ago and now looking for work. Where should I apply?

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Earned license 3 years ago and now looking for work. Where should I apply? Should I take a refresher course?

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Specializes in Tele, ICU, Staff Development.

Take a refresher course. Here's why :

Considering a Refresher Course

A refresher course can be highly beneficial since you've been out of the workforce for a few years. Here are some of my reasons why:

  • Update clinical skills. Medical practices and technology evolve quickly. A refresher course will ensure you're up-to-date with the latest standards of care and equipment.
  • Boost confidence. Returning to work after a break can be daunting. A refresher course can help rebuild your confidence by providing hands-on practice.
  • Continuing education credits. Many states require continuing education for license renewal; a refresher course can help fulfill these requirements.
  • Networking opportunities. These courses often provide opportunities to meet other nurses and healthcare professionals, which can help you search for a job.
  • Employer preference. Some employers prefer or even require nurses who have been out of practice for a while to take a refresher course.

Where to Apply

  • Hospitals. Major hospitals often have structured orientation programs for new or returning nurses, although you are no longer eligible as a new grad. Look for acute hospitals or large health systems in your area. Whether or not an exception will be made depends on your area's job market and its competitiveness.
  • Clinics and private practices. Smaller settings might offer more personalized work environments and can be a good way to ease into the field.
  • Long-term care facilities such as nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, and assisted living facilities always need qualified nurses. Sub-acute may be the best option for landing a job without experience and starting to build a work history and resume.
  • Home health agencies are a growing field that can offer flexible hours and various patient care experiences. However, it is not a first-line recommendation, as home health nurses need experience to work autonomously.
  • Public health. Government health departments, community health centers, and nonprofit organizations offer community and public health nursing opportunities.
  • Schools. School nursing can be rewarding, with regular hours and a focus on preventive care and health education.
  • Telehealth. Telehealth offers opportunities to work remotely, providing care and advice via phone or video calls.

Steps to Take

  • Check licensing requirements. Ensure your nursing license is active, and check if your state has any specific requirements for re-entering practice.
  • Research refresher courses. Look for credited programs, either online or in your area. Community colleges, universities, and professional nursing organizations often offer these courses.
  • Update your resume and cover letter. Highlight your nursing education, previous work experience, and the refresher course (if applicable).
  • Start applying. Use job boards, hospital websites, and professional networks to find job openings. Consider reaching out to potential employers directly.
  • Prepare for interviews. Be ready to discuss your time away from nursing, what you've done to stay current (such as taking a refresher course), and why you're excited to return to the field.

American Nurses Association (ANA). Offers resources and information for nurses, including career advice and continuing education opportunities.

National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN). Provides information on licensure and certification requirements.

My book, "How to Land Your First Nursing Job...and Your Next!" was written by a nurse manager with insider hiring knowledge to help new nurses and those needing essential insider tips.

Local nursing associations. Joining your local or state nursing association can provide support, resources, and networking opportunities. The major benefit here is networking.

You must persist. You are ca able. Apply the same determination that helped you finish nursing school to your Job Search. By taking these steps, you'll be well-prepared to re-enter the nursing workforce and start a fulfilling career in nursing.

Good luck! 

Nurse Beth