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I am ready to reenter the nursing profession after being away for 15 years. Where do I start?

Thursday September 27, 2012
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Dear Donna,

I’m an LVN and have been away from nursing for more than 15 years. The only experience I have is my years in nursing school. I am ready to reenter the nursing profession. Where do I start?


Dear Donna replies:

Dear Unsure,

Because you have been away from nursing and healthcare for so long, I suggest you start volunteering in a healthcare setting, as a nurse if possible, while looking for paid employment. Volunteering is an excellent way to transition back into the workforce. You'll build "work" stamina and confidence, hone old skills and learn new ones. You'll gain recent experience to put on a resume and discuss in an interview. Volunteering often leads to paid employment, so it's a good way to get your foot in the door. Contact a local public health department, blood bank, hospice or free clinic and offer to volunteer.

If there is a chapter of the National Federation of LPNs (www.nflpn.org) in your state, attend local meetings. This is a good way to reconnect to the nursing profession and get up to date with trends and issues. Attend local chapter meetings of the American Nurses Association (www.nursingworld.org) as a guest.

If you intend to seek a position in a nursing home, assisted living facility, hospice or something similar, you may want to look into an LPN refresher course. Although these positions can be few and far between. Check with your state chapters of the NFLPN and ANA to see if there are any in your area. You don't necessarily need a refresher course if you're going to work in an outpatient setting.

Contact all of your friends, family members, neighbors and other healthcare colleagues and let them know you are looking to get back into nursing. Ask for referrals, recommendations, introductions and leads. Everything happens through networking.

Start attending nursing and healthcare career fairs. These events are a great venue to meet many employers under one roof, gather a lot of information, make great contacts and hone your networking and self-marketing 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).

Transitioning back is a process, so be patient. Start putting one foot in front of the other 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