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'We encourage others to consider returning to practice'

Bev Matthews
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The NHS is a challenging place to work but equally rewarding and energising. Return to practice gives an amazing opportunity to reconnect with our passion for the profession for those with a lapsed PIN. In this blog, Bev Matthews and Chris Jones share their experiences as student and tutor.

Bev’s story

I am a transformation associate with NHS Horizons and currently works on transforming perceptions of nursing and midwifery, leading the 12 30-day challenges.

Before this, the work I was doing at the time, although still within healthcare, focused on improving care for patients and did not meet the clinical requirements of the NMC.

bev matthews

bev matthews

Letting my NMC registration lapse was not an easy decision as I felt I had worked hard to gain it and to maintain it over the subsequent years.

It is a very emotional decision and I can still remember now, how sad it left me feeling, even though it was the right decision then. That said, over the last 10 years I have never stopped being a nurse in my mind.

When I first heard about this course, it was described to me as “return to nursing” and my back went up just at the title. Even my kids, not so proudly, often used to tell their friends that because their mom is a nurse they will never have any sick days from school.

Just the title stopped me from looking into it, and even now with the much more appropriate title of ’return to practice’.

I still think it’s hidden and even misunderstood, resulting in missed opportunities for those who would benefit from doing it, for example, some may feel that they are too old to return. 

There may be confusion around course fees or whether it’s a difficult course, condensed into a short timeframe.

The course is not set up to catch students out, but to broaden their knowledge and thinking. For some, it is a different approach from when they first trained, but essential nursing care remains essential nursing care.

There may be different tools, resources and technology available, but students are supported to learn to use these alongside their own skills and initiative around critical thinking and situational analysis.

This course is very flexible and students can fit their clinical hours around other jobs or dependents that rely on them – as long as it is completed within 12 months.

Chris Jones’s view

I am programme lead for return to practice at Birmingham City University and I moved into education having worked as a childrens’ emergency department nurse. For the last two years I was deputy programme director for undergraduate students and has now been in this post for eight months.

I can honestly say that I have found this to be an incredibly positive experience, I have met some truly inspiring students who have overcome many obstacles to return back to our fantastic profession.

There are usually two key concerns I hear from people enquiring about the course:

  • “Am I good enough?” – usually because they have been away from the front line for a period of time but with knowledge and skills comes confidence – a confidence to overcome shyness and insecurity to become fantastic leaders;
  • Being terrified of technology – but by the end of the course they are fully engaged, whether it is in the clinical area or on social media; setting themselves up on Twitter, trying to get their head round hashtags, follows and tweet chats, or actively blogging.

chris jones

chris jones

Chris Jones

Because return to practice students come with a broad range of clinical and life skills, what works for teaching and support for pre-registration students does not always work for post-registration students.

Return to practice students often need to develop their stamina and confidence while also needing guidance initially with setting boundaries to best support them balancing the demands of study and outside responsibilities.

We are both keen to encourage others to consider returning to practice and jointly agree that the course is a ’can do’ environment that aims to push you to be the best that you can, bringing you up to date with current innovations, techniques and approaches.

You will be encouraged and supported if you find something difficult and have your passion for the profession re-ignited.

if you have let you registration lapse and would be interested in a return to practice course, take a look at about course and opportunities near to you: https://comeback.hee.nhs.uk/Find-Out-More1

Bev Matthews is transformation associate at NHS Horizons; Chris Jones is senior lecturer, child health, Birmingham City University

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