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Tips for Returning to Nursing After a Gap

Career Article   (2,726 Views 4 Replies 710 Words)
by Tracy Saunders Tracy Saunders (New) New Educator

2 Followers; 1 Article; 409 Profile Views; 1 Post

Returning to work in nursing is different than other industries. Here are some tips to consider before launching your search.

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

Tracy Saunders is the CEO & Founder of a company which equips and empowers women to land better jobs at every stage of life by providing gender-specific resources, online tools, and expert support.

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Blue_Moon has 18 years experience as a BSN, RN.

1 Article; 478 Posts; 5,177 Profile Views

I took 10 years away from nursing to stay home with my kids. I was able to return to work without a problem. Of course, I live in a rural area with a high demand for nurses so that helped. I volunteered a lot with my kid's teachers. I then used those teachers as "professional" references and it worked. Also, I was able to secure employment because I never burned any bridges and reached out to nurses still in the jobs I was ready to return to. My local hospital had no problem re-orienting me just like any new nurse. I do like some of the way things are done better now, however, the stress is higher trying to get more done. I started out prn, then went part time, and then full. I definately recommend doing that if possible because it's hard to go from being at home all the time to being away from home. It helped me and my family slowly get used to me taking more time away from home and eased them into slowly learning to help out more. Trust me it's a big transition for everyone but it's doable!

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237 Posts; 10,567 Profile Views

On 2/12/2019 at 12:34 PM, Blue_Moon said:

I took 10 years away from nursing to stay home with my kids. I was able to return to work without a problem. Of course, I live in a rural area with a high demand for nurses so that helped. I volunteered a lot with my kid's teachers. I then used those teachers as "professional" references and it worked. Also, I was able to secure employment because I never burned any bridges and reached out to nurses still in the jobs I was ready to return to. My local hospital had no problem re-orienting me just like any new nurse. I do like some of the way things are done better now, however, the stress is higher trying to get more done. I started out prn, then went part time, and then full. I definately recommend doing that if possible because it's hard to go from being at home all the time to being away from home. It helped me and my family slowly get used to me taking more time away from home and eased them into slowly learning to help out more. Trust me it's a big transition for everyone but it's doable!

I'm impressed!  Also, would love to know how you set up your resume.  I currently do private duty nursing but am a bit bored and wanted to get back 'in' the game but never thought of using my patient/families or volunteer experience as 'professional references'.  Thanks!

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Blue_Moon has 18 years experience as a BSN, RN.

1 Article; 478 Posts; 5,177 Profile Views

I found a resume template that highlighted my skills and strengths as opposed to work history although that was on there at the bottom. Since you are currently working you can highlight your skill set of working well independently,  adeptly handling all aspects of your client's care, adeptly collaborating with your client, family, and doctors to provide the best comprehensive care, etc. I would just google home health or private duty nursing care duties to see how best to word things. Then I'd use your patient and their family as references because you are providing a service to them. They wont ask for references until they are pretty sure they want to hire you anyway. If they don't have someone apply with lots of experience in their dept, then they just want to see that you are willing to learn, teachable, dependable, work well with others, and don't job hop. Good luck!!

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237 Posts; 10,567 Profile Views

Thank you.  Great advice!

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