While Nursing is an excellent career, some nurses choose to take extended breaks from nursing for a variety of reasons. Some chose to have families, others pursue different career paths or interests but may decide to return to nursing after a period of six months or more off.

Provided is a step by step guide of what a nurse will need to do to re-enter nursing practice:

  1. It is very important for a nurse to maintain his or her credentials. This allows an individual to maintain their license and remain eligible for employment as a nurse, and includes completing continuing education credits. If a nurse fails to complete continuing education, they will fall into "inactive" license status. To change this, submission of continuing education requirements completed within the past two years is required. It is essential that the nurse check the regulations pertaining to his or her state. For example, in the state of California, a nurse that has had a CA RN license expire for eight years or longer without an active RN license in another state will have to retake the NCLEX exam.
  2. Once this is done, a nurse must ensure their Basic Life Support (BLS) is active. If it has lapsed, a quick search on the internet can help locate a local BLS renewal class. Most nursing jobs require a current BLS to ensure eligibility for employment.
  3. After updated credentialing is complete, some nurses chose to take a Nurse Refresher Course. Many of these courses are not endorsed by the Board of Nursing. However, they provide an extensive program with clinical hours to help reintroduce a nurse to the workforce. Nurses can search online to find courses offered in their area.
  4. The final step is to start applying! Some nurses chose to work in home care or at a long-term care facility to gain back experience and rebuild their resume so they can re-enter an acute care setting.

The most difficult obstacle nurses may face when re-entering the workforce is that healthcare practices change frequently, and they may be left with a knowledge gap. An employer typically recognizes that if a nurse has been out of practice for a long period, they may not be up-to-date on current evidence-based practice and will require additional training. However, if a nurse is persistent or takes a job that can open up opportunities, they can be fully capable of re-entering the workplace, even after a hiatus.

Amanda Bucceri Androus, RN, BSN
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