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I live in the Czech Republic and would like to return to nursing after being away for three years. I'm also considering pursuing a master's degree or maybe nursing education. Any advice for me?

Tuesday February 5, 2013
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Dear Donna,

I’m a nurse but have not worked in the nursing profession for three years. I have missed nursing and have been considering returning to the field. I would like to find a hospital position, but am concerned because I only have one year of experience. I’m also considering pursuing a master’s degree. If I pursue a degree, I’m not sure if I should go into teaching, which I have some experience in, or become an ICU nurse. I live in the Czech Republic, but would pursue a nursing career in Ireland. I am desperate for a solution to my dilemma. What advice can you give me?

Czech Nurse

Dear Donna replies:

Dear Czech Nurse,

Although I don't know a lot about nursing in the Czech Republic, I do know there are more similarities than differences with nursing around the world. So I will tell you what advice I would give a U.S. nurse in your situation.

Transitioning back into nursing is a process. A great first step is to look for a volunteer position, as a nurse if possible, but at least something in a healthcare setting. This gives you recent experience, expands your professional network, builds confidence and helps you to build skills and knowledge. Volunteering often leads to paid employment and is a way to get your foot in the door. Consider a clinic, public health department, hospice or any setting that interests you.

Also get active in the Czech National Nurses Association (www.cnna.cz/). Attend meetings and conferences, get on a committee, run for office or take any opportunity to build skills and make professional connections. This also is a good way to stay up-to-date with issues and trends and get reconnected to your profession. Networking is known to be a great way to find a job. This also is a good way to find role models, mentors and advisors.

By all means make plans to get back to school. Healthcare is more complex than ever before and the educational requirements for all professionals are increasing around the globe. Furthering your education is a smart thing to do to stay competitive now and in the future. If you want to teach in healthcare and nursing, a higher degree will be necessary at some point. If it is not possible or practical to go to school and work at the same time, pursue whichever one is a priority for you right now. You can work on the other at a later date.

To return to hospital work, call hospital nurse recruiters or whoever hires nurses in the hospitals you are interested in. Ask what they require to work in the ICU or any other unit. This will give you more information about the current hospital job market and what you need to do to become marketable for that arena.

Transitioning back into the nursing workforce will take some time and diligence. So be patient with yourself and the process. Take the above steps and the right path will eventually reveal itself.

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.