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How do I get back on track with nursing after being out of it for a while? Are there ways for experienced nurses to train for new areas of nursing?



Dear Donna,

I left nursing a little more than a year ago to relocate, get married and give birth to my son. I recently started looking for a job without any success. I’ve applied to about 15 jobs for which I am qualified but have had only one interview. As part of the interview, I was required to take multiple-choice nursing comprehensive and IV tests. I passed the nursing test, but failed the IV test by a few points. It’s been about a week and they have not called me.

I had to look up a lot of things for both tests, leading me to the conclusion that I have lost a lot of my previous skills and knowledge despite having taken many CE courses well above state requirements to keep my nursing skills current.

Also, I’m only able to work one or two days on the weekend because my husband can take care of our son. We would put him in daycare if I found the right opportunity, which for me is working in a hospital.

Before I left my previous job, I had more than four years of experience in different areas such as, LTC, rehab, homecare and hospice.

Maybe I’m being impatient with the process. How do I get back on track with nursing after being out of it for a while? Are there ways for experienced nurses to train for new areas of nursing?

Needs To Get Back On Track

Dear Donna replies:

Dear Needs To Get Back On Track,

You don’t mention what type of positions you are applying for (settings or specialties) but, as you have discovered, the job market is very competitive. That being said, you can take steps to get back into nursing.

For starters, look for volunteer nursing work while you continue to pursue paid employment. This is a good way to transition back to work. It will give you recent relevant experience to put on your resume, help you hone old skills while learning ones and expand your professional network. Volunteer work often leads to paid employment as it helps get your foot in the door somewhere. Look for volunteer work with your local public health department, hospice, blood bank or free clinic.

Also attend local chapter meetings of some professional nursing associations such as the American Nurses Association ( or Association of Rehabilitation Nurses ( Attend as a guest if you are not a member. This will get you reconnected to your profession, keep you up to date on issues, information and trends, and further expand your professional network. Networking is one of the most effective ways to find a job. And when there’s something you want to do, it makes sense to rub elbows with those already doing that job.

Since you’re looking for part-time work right now, contact some nursing and healthcare employment agencies, especially those that offer non-traditional options for nurses. You can connect with many agencies (plus have face-to-face contact with other employers) at nursing career fairs. So see what’s coming up in your area (

If you are determined to work in a direct patient care area, then you may want to take an IV course, such as the one offered by See what’s coming up at

Although you’re not a new nurse, the article, “New nurse, new job strategies” has additional job finding tips for you including the use of social media, such as LinkedIn (

Transitioning back is a process, so be patient. Persistence and determination will always win out.

Best wishes,


About Author

Donna Cardillo, RN, MA, well-known career guru, is’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 and, respectively. To ask Donna your question, go to Find a “Dear Donna” seminar near you: Call 800-866-0919 or visit

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