Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more


My journey back to nursing practice


Nursing Times blogger Jane Jennion takes us through week one of her return to nursing after 23 years away.

It has been a long time coming.

Good for you!

Are you sure?

23 years away from nursing and these are just some of the responses I have had from my nursing friends when I said I wanted to return to practice.

In answer to you all: it HAS been a long time coming, good for me indeed and, YES, I am sure!

My name is Jane, and I have been working in the pharmaceutical industry for 23 very happy years. I have now reached a time in my life when I would like to return to my first love - working as a nurse.

I have roughly 20 years left in my career, and would like another bite of the cherry; to be able to work with patients and their families and really make a difference, rather than working at arm’s length from them as I have been doing recently.

I wanted to share my experience over the next few months with other readers, get your views and maybe help others facing the same decision. I could not find a great deal of information out there. Well, to be fair, this could just be my “searching” skills – a definite area for development.

I will share with you my highs, lows, challenges and key learnings. I tend to live in a very pink and fluffy world – people are always telling me that sometimes my expectations are just a tad high of people and situations and that at some point I am bound to be disappointed.

By this rationale, my view of the NHS may not be in line with the reality; for what it is worth, my view is that the NHS is still a very exciting - and above all, caring - place to be. I remain mindful and sensitive that in certain situations staffing numbers are not as great as they could be and concerned that some specialist nursing roles may not be as well recognised as they should be. All of this taken into account, I am still delighted to be coming back!

So here goes….week 1, and so far so good. I met my return to practice colleagues, all of whom shared the sense of apprehension and excitement to begin our course, revalidate our PINs and get back to work. Clutching our coffees and shiny new folders in a group session we briefly shared our motivations to return to the nursing profession. We have all had very different life journeys and experiences and everyone is bringing so much with them. It felt a real honour to be back in that safe learning environment and so good to be back with like-minded people. Isn’t there something special about nurses?

It transpired that we had all applied to the course in various ways and if there is something I can say to anyone contemplating a return (tip of the week) - don’t give up! There is always a way, if you really want it. Keep a small book with all the contact details of people you speak to as you ask for advice on your potential journey back. It is quite a minefield out there and you need to keep your wits about you.

From my personal experience, the best person to make initial contact with to start your investigations about the course is the learning and development team at whichever organisation you would like to work for; they have been so helpful to me. In my experience, they have been able to liaise with the university and the recruitment department to ensure interviews and contracts are in place - a massive help. Alternatively, you can apply via the university (details on the NMC website). This will cut out a lot of red tape and may even lead to some sponsorship - always a bonus.

Is primary or secondary care right for you? An important question. I used to work on a gastroenterology ward but this time have opted for the community. It is so refreshing that nurses can now opt straight for community nursing and not have to wait to be seconded as they did in the 80s. By all accounts, this is going to be an increasingly dynamic place to work. Also, by all accounts, more nurses are needed.

Back to us in the classroom: so much has changed: more legislation, government white papers, clinical governance, risk assessments, safeguarding, CQC - I could go on. Our heads were spinning on our shoulders by lunchtime.

This week we are in the simulation labs and it’s basic resus - which has also changed massively. I will let you know how we get on.

Oh, and please indulge me by taking on board just one more tip this week: keep on top of your CRB check.

You can track yours online at the CRB Home Office page.

Remember this and call them – they are very helpful.

I can safely say that I will be opening the champagne when mine comes.

Until next time, Jane


Readers' comments (11)

  • I have just read your article on returning to practice and noted your statement that you have roughly "20 years left" to your career this has cheered me up no end that you still feel the NHS has a lot to offer. As a mature student I was beginning to believe that I may have left it too late but your passion has stirred my confidence and determination to continue. Thank you.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment


    Awww Good Luck Jane,

    I look forward to hearing how u have got on, I have just mentored a BTN student and she had been out of practice for 20 years and she did just fine and is now working part time in the community...

    Hope it goes well, Enjoy it xxxx

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Martin  Jones

    Hi Jane.
    Great to read your enthusiastic first blog.
    Unlike you I've never left nursing since I joined the July '83 set at Addenbrooke's Hospital. And as I blogged myself:
    I was drawn to Mark Radcliffe’s blog a couple of weeks ago in which he stated that nursing ‘challenges our capacity to know, do, feel and be’. HIV nursing is what I do, what I know and what I am. I’m as vocationally driven and as motivated as ever.
    I look forward to your next blog.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Congratulations as a mature student nurse I was worried but it is 9 years qualified as a psychiatric nurse I am still excited about my job. All I can say being older in the work place can be very positve at times.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Catherine Lambie

    Hi Jane, It is so good to read your blog, I look forward to the next installment. I have been working in Social Care for the last 20 years and am about to embark on my journey back to nursing. I have finally come to the conclusion that I want to get out of the managerial rat race and remaster some of those skills taught to me in the 80's although I am sure a great deal has changed! It was interesting to read your 'tip of the week' I have just made contact with the Uni locally re their return to professional practice 12 wk course, I am hoping I may get onto this soon. Cheeky question byt have you had any funding success? Anyway, the very best of luck and good on you for taking what I know is a giant leap :)

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Hi, Just wondering if there is an update to this blog ? I am interested as I am about to start a RTP course . I have obtained funding from the Strategic Health Authority, and managed to get placement at my local hospital. I was advised to contact the head of learning at my local hosp to find where the courses were being run, as my local Uni did not have a course this year. I will have a 1 and 1/2 hr journey to Uni , but it only for 9 days , so its well worth it, good luck everyone. :)

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I am trying to get back into nursing but I feel I am hitting my head against a brick wall. Universities will accept me, but i need to find my own clinical placements to which I am finding very difficult.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • HI Jane

    I'm a return to practice nurse and it has taken me almost a year to secure a post as a staff nurse but hey i got there in the end. I'm a little nervous as i'd lost my confidence in myself but i think that is natural. Good luck with the RTP Course as it goes too quick. Enjoy and good luck with the future.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Anonymous 17th Nov - Please do not give up on finding a course. I went through the NMC website as they have a link for all universities running the course, I then contacted all that were local to me. The one that i was successful on was a 45 minute drive away but as it was short term it was worthwhile. I also had to secure my own placement, i was previously a community staff nurse but wanted to go back in to the acute hospital setting so i contacted my local hospital and spoke to their Practice Facilitator who organised me to undertake my practice hours on a ward that accomodate me. It took time and patience, i gained my PIN back in Jan 2012 and i have only just secured myself a staff nurse post. So please don't give up and do not get disheartened - YOU CAN & WILL get there. Just perserve. Good Luck, i wish you well.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Hi -hope this line is still running. I have just completed a RtP course in central London and had similar experiences in organising placement. I would like to do some informal research in RtP and wondered if people would be willing to share their experiences?
    You can contact me at

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Show 1020results per page

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.