A group of doctors discussing the process of returning to nursing after a long absence.

How Can You Return to Nursing After 10 Years?

Returning to nursing after a 10-year break may seem daunting, but with proper planning and preparation, you can successfully re-enter the field. Here are the steps you can take to make your transition smoother:

Understanding the Current Nursing Landscape

Getting Up-to-Date with Modern Nursing Practices

Nursing practices and techniques may have evolved during your time away from the profession. It is crucial to familiarize yourself with the latest advancements and best practices in nursing. Here’s how you can catch up:

  • Read professional nursing journals and publications to stay updated with current trends and research in the field.
  • Attend workshops, seminars, or webinars to gain insights into the latest nursing techniques and technologies.
  • Join nursing associations and online forums to connect with other professionals and learn from their experiences.
  • Consider volunteering or shadowing opportunities to observe and learn from practicing nurses.

Familiarizing Yourself with Technological Advances in the Field

Technology plays a significant role in modern healthcare, and as a returning nurse, it is essential to familiarize yourself with the latest tools and systems used in the profession. Here are some steps to help you get up to speed:

  • Take online courses or tutorials to learn about electronic medical records (EMRs) and other digital healthcare technologies.
  • Practice using simulation labs or virtual reality programs to enhance your clinical skills.
  • Familiarize yourself with telemedicine platforms and remote monitoring systems, as these have become increasingly important in healthcare delivery.

Evaluating Your Prior Experience and Skills

Reflecting on Your Past Nursing Career

Take the time to reflect on your previous nursing career and identify the skills and experiences that are still relevant. This self-assessment will help you leverage your prior knowledge and build upon it. Consider the following:

  • Recall the areas of nursing you excelled in and enjoyed the most.
  • Assess the patient populations you worked with and the types of healthcare settings you were involved in.
  • Reflect on any leadership or management roles you held and the skills you developed during that time.

Identifying Transferable Skills

While your nursing skills may need refreshing, you likely acquired valuable transferable skills during your time away from the profession. These skills can enhance your employability and make your return to nursing more seamless. Here are some transferable skills to consider:

  • Communication: Strong communication skills are essential in nursing, and if you’ve honed these skills in other roles or personal experiences, highlight them.
  • Problem-solving: Nursing often requires quick thinking and problem-solving abilities. Reflect on instances where you successfully resolved complex issues in your previous career.
  • Leadership: If you held leadership positions in non-nursing roles, showcase your ability to manage teams and make critical decisions.

Pursuing Further Education or Training

Exploring Degree Completion or Bridge Programs

If you feel the need to update your nursing education, consider enrolling in a degree completion or bridge program. These programs are designed specifically for individuals who want to re-enter the nursing profession. Here’s what you can do:

  • Research universities and colleges that offer programs tailored for returning nurses.
  • Check if these programs offer flexible schedules or online learning options to accommodate your other responsibilities.
  • Speak with program advisors to discuss your specific needs and determine the best fit for your situation.

Considering Specialized Certification Courses

Specialized certification courses can help you acquire new skills or update existing ones in specific areas of nursing. These certifications can make you stand out as a candidate and demonstrate your commitment to professional development. Consider the following:

  • Research certifications that are relevant to your intended nursing specialty or the areas you wish to pursue.
  • Look for courses offered by reputable nursing organizations or professional associations.
  • Evaluate the requirements, costs, and time commitment associated with each certification to ensure it aligns with your goals.

Stay tuned for the next two responses to complete the answer ## Updating Your Credentials

Renewing Lapsed Nursing Licenses

If your nursing license has expired during your time away from the field, it is crucial to renew it before seeking employment. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Contact your state’s nursing board to understand the requirements and process for license renewal.
  2. Complete any necessary continuing education courses or exams to fulfill the renewal criteria.
  3. Submit the required documentation and fees to the nursing board within the specified timeframe.
  4. Keep track of the renewal date to ensure you stay current with your license in the future.

Pursuing Additional Certifications as Needed

Depending on the specific requirements of the nursing position you’re interested in, you may need to obtain additional certifications. These certifications can enhance your knowledge and make you more competitive in the job market. Here are some steps to consider:

  1. Research the certifications commonly desired by employers in your target area of nursing.
  2. Determine the eligibility criteria, application process, and exam requirements for each certification.
  3. Prepare for the certification exams by studying relevant materials and taking practice tests.
  4. Once you have obtained the certifications, update your resume and professional profiles to showcase your new credentials.

Preparing for Job Hunting

Revamping Your Resume with New Skills and Experiences

When returning to nursing after a long break, it is essential to update and tailor your resume to highlight your most relevant skills and experiences. Consider the following tips:

  • Create a summary statement at the top of your resume that highlights your nursing background and emphasizes your commitment to returning to the field.
  • Prioritize your nursing experience, including any clinical rotations or internships during your education.
  • Include any new certifications, training, or education you have acquired during your time away from nursing.
  • Highlight transferrable skills gained from non-nursing roles and link them to nursing competencies.

Networking with Other Healthcare Professionals

Networking can be a valuable tool in your job search, especially when returning to nursing after an extended absence. Here’s how you can expand your professional network:

  • Attend nursing conferences, job fairs, and industry events to meet and connect with other healthcare professionals.
  • Join online nursing communities and forums where you can engage in discussions and build relationships.
  • Reach out to former colleagues, professors, or mentors who can provide guidance, support, or potential job leads.
  • Consider joining professional nursing associations or organizations that offer networking opportunities and resources.

Navigating Interviews and Answering Questions About Your Absence

During job interviews, you may be asked about the gap in your nursing career. Be prepared to address this question confidently and emphasize your commitment to returning to the field. Consider these tips:

  • Be honest about your reasons for taking a break from nursing, whether it was for personal growth, family commitments, or other valid reasons.
  • Highlight any relevant experiences or skills you gained during your time away that can contribute to your success as a nurse.
  • Discuss any steps you have taken to update your knowledge and skills, such as continuing education courses or certifications.
  • Emphasize your passion for nursing and your dedication to providing quality patient care.

Returning to nursing after 10 years may require effort and preparation, but with the right mindset and a strategic approach, you can successfully re-enter the field. Stay motivated, stay updated, and leverage your past experiences to make a smooth transition back into the nursing profession.


Q: How can I build confidence in my nursing skills after being away for 10 years?
Building confidence in your nursing skills after a long break is essential. Here are some strategies to help you regain confidence:

  1. Review and refresh your knowledge by studying textbooks, online resources, or attending refresher courses.
  2. Practice your skills in a controlled environment, such as simulation labs or skills workshops.
  3. Seek mentorship or shadowing opportunities with experienced nurses to observe and learn from their practice.
  4. Gradually increase your exposure to real-world nursing situations, starting with less complex cases and progressing as you gain confidence.
  5. Reflect on your successes and celebrate your achievements, no matter how small, to boost your self-confidence.

Q: How can I address the potential age gap between me and other nurses?
Addressing the potential age gap between you and other nurses requires an open and inclusive mindset. Here’s how you can navigate this challenge:

  1. Focus on building relationships based on mutual respect, collaboration, and shared goals.
  2. Emphasize your experience and expertise, highlighting the value you bring to the team.
  3. Be open to learning from younger nurses, as they may have insights into new practices and technologies.
  4. Seek common ground and find ways to connect with your colleagues outside of work, such as participating in team-building activities or social events.
  5. Show a willingness to adapt and embrace change, demonstrating that you are committed to continuous learning and professional growth.

Q: How can I balance my personal life and nursing career after returning to the field?
Balancing your personal life and nursing career is crucial for long-term success and well-being. Consider the following tips:

  1. Set clear boundaries between work and personal life. Establish designated times for work-related activities and prioritize self-care and family time during your off-hours.
  2. Communicate openly with your family and loved ones about your career commitments and the support you may need from them.
  3. Delegate responsibilities and ask for help when needed. Utilize resources such as childcare services, meal delivery, or housekeeping assistance to ease the burden of daily tasks.
  4. Practice self-care regularly. Prioritize activities that help you relax and recharge, such as exercise, hobbies, meditation, or spending time with loved ones.
  5. Be flexible and adaptable. Understand that there may be times when work demands more of your attention, but also make sure to carve out quality time for personal life to maintain a healthy balance.

Q: How can I address potential gaps in my clinical skills after being away from nursing for 10 years?
Addressing potential gaps in your clinical skills is essential to ensure competent and safe nursing practice. Here’s how you can bridge those gaps:

  1. Consider taking a clinical refresher course or participating in a clinical internship or preceptorship program to update your skills.
  2. Seek opportunities to shadow or observe experienced nurses in clinical settings to familiarize yourself with current practices and protocols.
  3. Engage in self-directed learning by reading industry publications, research articles, or textbooks that focus on the areas where you feel less confident.
  4. Leverage online resources, such as webinars or virtual simulation programs, to practice and enhance your clinical skills.
  5. Seek mentorship from experienced nurses who can guide and support you as you work to regain your clinical proficiency.