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After 15 years away, will taking a refresher course help my chances of finding a nursing position?

Thursday September 20, 2012
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Dear Donna,

I left nursing 15 years ago to raise a family and would like to return to the profession. I have a bachelor’s degree and my experience is in neurology, respiratory therapy and telemetry. Do you recommend taking a refresher course or to just start job hunting?

Job Hunting RN

Dear Donna replies:

Dear Job Hunting RN,

The job market for nurses has completely changed since you last worked. Care and jobs have shifted from the hospital to the community, the home and alternative care settings. The hospital job market has become very competitive — most hospitals will only hire nurses with current hospital experience and many want a minimum of a BSN.

There are jobs outside of the hospital. A refresher course might not be necessary for those jobs, but could help you to get up to speed with knowledge and skills. It won’t necessarily make you more marketable, though, depending on the employer and the position. I recommend you start volunteering in a healthcare setting now, as a way of easing back into nursing and the job market. Volunteering is a great way to build work stamina and confidence, learn new skills and hone old ones, expand your professional network, gain recent experience to put on a resume and get a foot in the door. Volunteering often leads to paid employment. Read “The Value of Volunteering” (www.dcardillo.com/articles/volunteer.html). Also, it is important for you to reconnect to your profession by being active in nursing associations, such as your state chapter of the American Nurses Association (www.nursingworld.org, Click on ‘Find your state’). This is a good way to get up-to-date information and trends in nursing and expand your professional network. Everything happens through networking.

Today’s nurse, whether new or experienced, needs to look in new directions for employment and needs new skills to find those jobs. Even though you’re not a new nurse, you’ll find additional information and advice in the article “New nurse, new job strategies” (www.Nurse.com/Cardillo/Strategies).

It would be good for you to attend nursing career fairs to see what’s available in your area — many nontraditional employers exhibit at these events and it’s a good venue to hone your self-marketing and networking skills. See what’s coming up at www.Nurse.com/Events/Career-fairs/. Read “How to get the most out of attending a career fair” (Nurse.com/Cardillo/Careerfair).

Re-entry is a process, so be patient. Start moving in a positive forward direction, one step at a time and you’ll eventually get to where you want to be.

Best wishes,

Donna Cardillo, RN, MA, well-known career guru, is Nurse.com’s “Dear Donna” and author of “Your First Year as a Nurse: Making the Transition from Total Novice to Successful Professional” and “The ULTIMATE Career Guide for Nurses: Practical Advice for Thriving at Every Stage of Your Career.” Information about the books is available at www.Nurse.com/CE/7010 and www.Nurse.com/CE/7250, respectively. To ask Donna your question, go to www.Nurse.com/Asktheexperts/Deardonna. Find a “Dear Donna” seminar near you: Call 800-866-0919 or visit http://Events.nursingspectrum.com/Seminar.