How many years away from bedside is too many?

Nurses General Nursing


I've been away from because nursing for 4 years. . .with about 5 years of med-surg/acute rehab prior to that.

If I am thinking about returning to bedside, would a refresher course be wise? Should I try to get into a new grad internship? (I've seen local ones say they accept new grads or those returning to acute care without recent experience).

Would love to hear people's experiences returning to bedside after time away.

Specializes in Critical Care and ED.

I was away for 4 years too. I was in critical care for years and then switched to informatics, but this is because I'm in school doing an NP program and needed something a little calmer while I was in school. I recently decided that I wanted to return to the bedside to maintain skills and so I can keep my CCRN certification so I took a per diem ICU job which gets my foot back in the door until I can graduate. I figured it would make me a more desirable candidate having recent ICU experience. Can you perhaps try to get a per diem job? It would make it easier to get a full time job in an area you really want to work in, and stretched facilities are more likely to snatch you up. I found that I still had most of my skills intact and it was only a few shifts until I felt truly back in the saddle.

Specializes in Critical Care; Cardiac; Professional Development.

I can't say how many is TOO many....meaning, if there is a great shift in practice or technology it can be a difficult transition back. I would think four years isn't bad. Most of nursing is like riding a bike. Once you know how, you pretty much know how and just need to be open to the potential for slightly different practices or equipment than was around the last time you were doing it. Good luck!

Specializes in Psych ICU, addictions.

From what I've seen, a lot of employers start considering 3 years as being away from a bedside/specialty too long. I say that because of the number of job postings I've seen requiring experience within the last 3 years. That doesn't mean landing such a job is impossible, but it could be an uphill battle and you'd really have to sell yourself in the job hunt. What would help is keeping your knowledge up as much as possible in that time: reading journals, doing CEUs, etc.

Specializes in Varied.
From what I've seen, a lot of employers start considering 3 years as being away from a bedside/specialty too long. I say that because of the number of job postings I've seem requiring experience within the last 3 years.

My area requires 1-2 years acute care experience in the last 5 years. Check into your area to see what hospitals state in their job descriptions/postings.

I've been out 4, School Nurse here. I just put out my resume and I was surprised that major hospitals still wanted me. I do have almost 25 years experience as an RN, and maybe it is also because I've kept my connections and dabbled in home care in the summer.

Personally, I would want a refresher after 2 years out, but more than 5, definitely.

Specializes in LTC, assisted living, med-surg, psych.

I've been out 4 years too. If I were to go back into nursing, I'd want to take a refresher because of what my son, an LPN, has been telling me about changes in the way things are done. Wound care, computers, different ways of doing things...I'm woefully out of practice and I know it.

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