Should I take a refresher course?

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by Nurse Beth Nurse Beth, MSN (Columnist) Educator Columnist Innovator Expert Nurse

Specializes in Med Surg, Tele, ICU, Ortho. Has 30 years experience.

Dear Nurse Beth,

I am a nurse with 18 years varied experience; pediatric acute care to family practice clinic. I am a military spouse and I was about to go back for my BSN because it appears that is the direction of the nursing field when my dad passed away. I got bogged down with home ownership (of course not in the state I lived) and estate stuff, followed by an overseas duty station. I have not worked in 5 years.

We are returning to the US and I am looking at going back to work, probably getting into a BSN program. I do have a current license but not in the state I will be living in. SO, should I invest prior to the BSN thing a nurse refresher course? They are quite an expense and time, delay in starting BSN. I saw mixed reviews about availability, cost, and if they actually do any good on a resume. What are your thoughts? Sorry so wordy!

Dear Bogged Down,

A refresher course will help update your knowledge and skills and some recommend nursing refresher courses for those who've been out of the workforce 3 years or more. Having said that, there's no guarantee how much it will help you land a job. It really depends on the hiring manager and job market in your area.

So you have your ADN and no work experience for 5 years. I would not put off applying for jobs to attend a month-long refresher.

If your goal is to start working as soon as possible, start applying for jobs. Consider public health, sub-acute, clinics, perhaps dialysis. Your goal at this point is to get back in the field, even if it's not your dream job.

If you absolutely cannot land a job, ask recruiters/hiring managers if taking a refresher course would make you more eligible. Then you'll have your answer.

From there you can enroll in a BSN program and work your way back to where you want to be.

Best wishes,

Nurse Beth



Specializes in Leadership. Has 17 years experience. 1 Post

Dear Nurse Beth,

I have been in leadership the majority of my nursing career with the exception of when I first graduated where I worked med/surg and ortho. I want to transition into hospital leadership but I'm finding most job descriptions say they want 2 years of current bedside experience. I feel confident that I can refresh my skills quickly, but finding a hospital to take a chance on me is more difficult than I imagined it would be. 

Any suggestions on what might help me in my quest to transition back to the hospital environment?