I am an RN with a BSN. I have not worked as an RN for 20 years, but still have my license. I’d like to be involved in nursing again. Is a refresher course worth taking at age 58? I don’t find many suitable nurse volunteer opportunities available for someone like me. I want to be useful, but am not sure which way to turn. What do you think?
Wants To Be Involved In Nursing Again
Dear Donna replies:
Dear Wants To Be Involved In Nursing Again,
Whether or not you take a refresher course has nothing to do with your age. It would help you to get current with practice models and standards and give you a chance to hone some basic skills. However, it may not be necessary for you to take such a course in order to work in some ambulatory care settings, which is likely where you would find opportunities. If you have the time and financial resources to take the course, it certainly wouldn’t hurt, especially after being away from nursing for 20 years.
Volunteering is a great way for you to ease your way back into the work force and into nursing. When you say you don’t find suitable volunteer opportunities for “someone like me,” I wish I knew what you meant. I’m sure you can still take a blood pressure and pulse, give vaccinations with minimal instruction, do finger sticks to test blood glucose, take a medical history and so on. These are the types of things you would do in a free clinic, in a local public health department and at health fairs. These are the settings that I often refer nurses to for volunteer work.
You also can look into becoming a hospice volunteer for now. Hospice agencies provide extensive training for their volunteers. Contact the American Red Cross, the American Heart Association and similar social service agencies about volunteer opportunities. Volunteering gives you relevant experience to put on your resume, helps you hone old skills and learn new ones, and expands your professional network. It helps to build confidence and work stamina. Volunteering often leads to paid employment and is a way to get your foot in the door.
Also, you should attend local chapter meetings of the American Nurses Association (www.ana.org) and/or the American Association of Ambulatory Care Nurses (www.aaacn.org) as a guest for now. Attending nursing association meetings is a great way to get reconnected to your profession, get up to date on issues and trends and build your professional network. Networking is a very effective way to find a job and get hired.
Two additional ideas to help you jump start your career:
Contact some nursing agencies, those that do non-hospital placement. Occasionally, they have opportunities for nurses to work at health fairs and do similar things to those duties I mentioned above.
Consider attending my Career Alternatives for Nurses seminar in New York this fall
(https://www.eventbrite.com/e/career-alternatives-for-nurses-tickets-8773924043?ref=ebapi) where I cover a broad range of opportunities for nurses at every level of experience and teach effective self-marketing skills.