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I've been out of nursing for ten years and would like to get back. Am I wasting my time or is it possible?

Monday February 4, 2013
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Dear Donna,

I graduated with a BSN in 1994. I worked at a long-term care facility for a year after graduation, then as a camp nurse for the summer. After that, I worked as an immunization nurse. I live in a small community and couldn't find work in a hospital, so I have been working as a veterinary technician for the past 10 years. I would like to get back into nursing, specifically in home health. I still have an active license. Am I wasting my time or can I get back into nursing after all this time?

Wants Back In

Dear Donna replies:

Dear Wants Back In,

No, you are not wasting your time and you can get back into nursing with some patience, diligence and determination.

Start by getting a volunteer position as a nurse or at least in a healthcare setting, even a few hours a week. Consider becoming a hospice volunteer as that is connected to home care. Also contact your local public health department or a free clinic. Volunteering is a great way to get your foot in the door, gain recent experience, build confidence and expand your professional network. You should have nursing liability insurance, even for volunteer work, if you'll be doing any hands-on patient care.

Also, I recommend you take an RN refresher course. This will make you more marketable for a home care position. Find a course by doing an Internet search for an RN refresher course in your city, county, or state.

Additionally, join and participate in your area chapter of the American Nurses Association (www.nursingworld.org). This is an excellent way to get reconnected to your profession, get up to date on issues and trends and build your professional network. Networking is a very effective way to find a job, especially when you have obstacles to overcome. Attend some local chapter meetings as a guest, even if you choose not to join right away.

Work on getting your CPR certification and take an IV training course, if you can find one. All of these things will prepare you to reenter nursing and make you more marketable. Persistence and determination will always win.

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.