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Tracy Saunders

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  1. Tracy Saunders

    Tips for Returning to Nursing After a Gap

    There's a saying that goes: "Once a nurse, always a nurse." If you trained as a nurse, left to have children and now wish to return to the clinical setting, the good news is, you are in demand. There are many opportunities for nurses today, as well as a shortage of skilled professionals. The USA will see 500,000 experienced nurses retire by 20242 and anticipates a workforce shortage of 1.1 million posts according to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics. There is a lot of choice out there and your skills are in demand. Since you have been gone there have been many changes in the field as well. Here's how you can return to a nursing job after a career gap. Update Your Skills Whether you have had a gap of a year or 10, you'll find that things have changed. The health sector is constantly changing, even for those who have continuously worked in the nursing profession. No matter how long your time away, you'll find that things are different from the last time you worked in a hospital. Don't be discouraged, and take each day as it comes. One of the big things you'll notice is the amount of technology in use, from tablets to online records. You can prepare for these changes by taking a free online course in basic computer skills. Your employer will train you in the use of equipment and technologies that are new to you as well. Another thing you'll notice is the complexity of patients' conditions in hospitals. Due to the increase in life span, you'll likely find more older people with multiple long-term health concerns. Most hospitals offer a return-to-nursing program for nurses reintegrating into the clinical environment. Such programs will help you adapt to challenging, yet potentially rewarding, developments such as these. Get Work Experience If you are thinking of returning to nursing, you'll need to demonstrate some recent work experience. Return-to-nursing programs can help you gain experience and supervision from a qualified professional. You might also be thinking about changing to a new clinical specialty or environment. Spending a day shadowing someone in a new field or different setting will give you an idea of what their work is like. Don't forget that there are also jobs in research and clinical areas that will be different from your previous work. Think Transferable Skills It can be daunting to return to nursing, especially when you find that many senior staff are younger than you. Don't let that dissuade you.You'll have that gift of practical experience from your days on the wards. When you are compiling your resume or looking for interview tips, take some time to think about the skills you do bring. Good communication skills, empathy and compassion will always be needed. If you once led a project, you'll have change-management skills. Once you have been in a department or a ward for even a day, you'll be surprised how much you recall from your previous career. Think Work-Life Balance When you are planning a return to nursing, don't forget to negotiate your hours with your new employer. You may want to work part-time so you have more hours for your family. Some employers allow staff to work during school-term time only due to family needs. And above all, be sure to make time for yourself once you have a job, as you'll need to have a healthy work-life balance too. Focus on the Right Job for You With so much change in nursing today there are lots of different areas to work in from pediatrics to emergency care and research. Take time to look at several specialties and the type of work you'll be doing. Think carefully about your hours, the intensity of the work and the team you'll be working with when you work there. Check out new areas as well as those you think you'll enjoy. Returning to a nursing job is easier than you think. There are many choices and resources available for nurses who want to get back to their career. American Nursing Association
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