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I just became licensed in the U.S. after working as an aide for two years. Do I need a refresher course to get back into home care nursing?

Tuesday February 12, 2013
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Dear Donna,

I am a trained nurse from the U.K. with about one and half
years of experience. I have been living in the U.S. for two years and working as a home health aide while sorting out my transcript, waiting for approval from the board of nursing and studying to take the NCLEX. I passed the exam and received my license. The agency I work for is willing to send me on RN assignments right away, but I feel I need some type of orientation and refresher course first —especially because U.K. nursing is different and I have been out of practice for two years. I am looking into many CE courses relating to home care nursing, which is what I would like to do. Now that I am licensed, I plan to do volunteer nursing at a hospital. Does it make sense to pay for an RN return-to-work online course and an IV therapy clinical course? Would I need this to be a home health nurse? What advice do you have?

Transitioning Back to Nursing

Dear Donna replies:

Dear Transitioning Back to Nursing,

Consider talking to your supervisor at the home care agency about working with an experienced nurse for several months to get acclimated. It never hurts to ask. That might be enough for you to continue in the home care setting. If you were going to be seeing clients with ports, heparin locks, etc., then the IV therapy course would be a good idea. You also can ask your home care supervisor or field RNs for their advice on whether or not the IV course would be helpful in your role as an RN.

Because your education and practice have been in another country, taking a refresher course would not be a bad idea. Although taking an online course is an option, I hope it includes a local supervised clinical experience. You also might look into live, classroom-based refresher courses in your area.

Online CE courses are good to keep you up-to-date, but something more intensive might be the right place to start. Your volunteer work will be good too.

I suggest you join and participate in your state chapter of the American Nurses Association (www.nursingworld.org). It is important to immerse yourself in the community of nursing. This is a good way to stay up-to-date with issues, trends and information, to build a support system and to expand your professional network. Attend meetings as a guest for now, if you are not a member yet, but I do urge you to join. The more you put into any association, by attending meetings and events, getting on a committee or running for office, the more you will get out of it. Read “Getting the most from professional associations” (www.Nurse.com/Cardillo/Professional-Assns).

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.