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'It’s never been easier to return to the nursing profession'

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Revitalised return to practice programmes make it easier for former nurses to come back to the profession, says Janice Stevens

Across the country a new campaign, Come Back, has been launched to support nurses in returning to practice. What makes this special is that it differs from previous campaigns on a number of levels.

Back in June, I wrote about a review of the return to practice (RTP) programmes available and the experiences that returning nurses have had previously. That review, and the stories returning nurses have told us, inspired us to bring together the nursing community to reinvigorate the programme.

We have undergone a period of research, developed processes, supported the programme with funding and worked with RTP leads, nurses and key partners to ensure we made the right decision every step of the way.

Nursing RTP programmes have now been refreshed and refocused, based on nurses’ feedback and their needs. We’ve addressed financial issues by confirming that course fees will now be paid. We’ve identified where support was lacking and developed a toolkit to ensure every organisation involved in the programme has guidance. We’ve developed the Come Back campaign to support those looking for a course. From a practical point of view, it has never been easier to return to nursing.

The Come Back campaign sees us connecting directly with the nursing community through the use of social media and the abundance of health professionals and key partners already having conversations about nursing online. Led by nurses, who have returned to practice and have great stories to tell, the campaign addresses the key reasons that prevent people from returning, particularly the emotional reasons.

We’ve been overwhelmed by the sheer volume of nurses who have been in touch about their RTP experiences. From Penny in Kettering, who returned after bringing up her eight children, to John in Manchester, who has returned to the ward 28 years after he stepped away, all received a really warm welcome back into nursing.

No matter how many years have passed since returning nurses last practised, the fundamentals haven’t changed. Compassion, understanding and commitment are still at the heart of care. We want to reassure those looking to return that there are fantastic opportunities available for them and that we will support them in their return. That’s what this campaign is all about.

Once nurses are on the refreshed RTP programmes, they can expect to have a supported, flexible and varied experience that eases them back into nursing life. This is a great start to what we hope will be a change in attitude towards RTP, where we see nurses returning and staying because we continue to look after them and continually ensure we have the right processes in place driven by their personal and professional needs.

I know I’m not alone in believing that no matter where you are or what role you are in, once you’re a nurse, you’re always a nurse. We’re really looking forward to welcoming nurses who decide to come back.

Janice Stevens CBE is managing director, Health Education West Midlands.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • I returned to practise last year after a 20 year break. The most frustrating thing was that although I had passed and completed my exams in September, it was December before my paperwork was complete... then I broke my arm.
    Having finished the course I was aware that I needed to continue building my knowledge and that I needed to be at work to do this. There is so much paperwork now that if you do not do this everyday you start to loose your momentum. I have been slowly returning to work since April and realize that at my age people expect me to know what forms relate to different things. Then you also need to understand that alot of forms are now held in the computer and you need to find them. Add to that the need to be able to work the Patient Administration System to find results, order tests like MRSA screens and you start to understand that it is hard to find the time to be with the patients.
    My favorite part of the job is patient , not paper centred. I believe it is important that the Health Care Assistants work with qualified staff in delivering care so there is a chance to develope their skills and knowledge . I try to be at the bedside as much as possible, especially with anyone that is particularly ill . I do see some staff nurses giving out drugs and then sitting down to do their writing. I can understand why it becomes a compulsion as this seems to be the part of the job that is audited.
    I prefer to use the shift hand over to organise and arrange discharges ,but this is not always possible. The paperwork involved in sending a patient home or to a new care setting is immense and there is rarely enough support to help you to do this well. The Care Plans relate to risk assesment systems such as MUST and Frase and appear to have to be active for everyone, even if what you enter each shift relating to this care plan is not necessary . I attempt to write up anything important as I go along and complete the mindless rubbish entries when I have time or at the end of the shift. I do not recall having to do anything like this in the past as we developed our own care plans , relating to risk assesment tools, not using the tool in the way it is today.
    Having said all of that, I come home feeling really satisfied as essentially the patients are the same and need the same compassion and kindness that they did 25 years ago. They still need a glass of water poured, a meal placed where they can reach it, pressure area care and pain relief. Add to that the chance to listen to their stories and to help them feel 'cared for' and you should have a good shift. But I wish the paperwork could be reduced to a meaningful level.

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