Should an RN with a BSN, who has not worked as an RN in several years, take a refresher course to get a clinical position?

By | 2022-05-05T11:44:02-04:00 September 17th, 2014|1 Comment


Dear Donna,

I am an RN with a BSN, who has been looking for a nursing position for over a year now. I have six years of postpartum/nursery experience and five years of experience completing medical review audits for a Medicare contractor. My last nursing job was in 2007 with the Medicare contractor. I have worked temporarily for flu shot/wellness clinics for
private companies.

I also started a small business, worked with a couple of arts nonprofits, and published articles about the arts for an online media website. My position at the last nonprofit was eliminated a year ago, and I made the decision to come back to nursing.

During the last year, I have applied for an immunization/well-baby nurse position at the public health clinic, and I applied for a nurse home visitor position with a nonprofit. I have also applied for medical record review/auditing/utilization review-related positions in hospitals and with other contractors. Most of the recruiters tell me that my credentials and experience are excellent, but they choose
another candidate.

I really need a job. I can’t believe so much time has passed and I still don’t have a position. I could use some new direction with my job search. Do you have any suggestions?

My nurse friend suggested that I take a refresher course to gain some recent experience and then apply for clinical positions. Do you agree?

Ready for a Change

Dear Donna replies:

Dear Ready for a Change,

The nursing job market is constantly changing. All nurses need to look in new directions for employment, and they also need to learn and utilize new skills to find openings and get those jobs. I have several suggestions for you.

For starters, taking a refresher course and pursuing a clinical position such as a job in a hospital or nursing home is not the way for you to go as there is an abundance of nurses in the job market right now with very current hospital experience and inpatient care. Employers are being very selective about who they hire. Even new nurses often are not being hired by hospitals. Your friend is probably not aware of all the changes occurring in the nursing job market. Read “Nursing – a new paradigm” to get up to date on changes in the nursing job market (

An important next step for you now is to start volunteering in a health setting while you continue to look for paid employment. Volunteering gives you recent relevant experience to put on your resume, allows you to hone skills and learn new ones and expands your professional network. It is a way to get your foot in the door somewhere as volunteering often leads to paid employment. When you can’t get in the front door, try the back door. Look for volunteer work in a free clinic, blood bank, your local public health department, etc.

Get out and do more face-to-face networking. You cannot rely exclusively on sending out online or snail mail resumes. That is the least effective way to find a job. You should be attending career fairs and speaking to nontraditional employers and agencies at those fairs. Some agencies only do bedside placement but many do nontraditional placement, too. See what’s coming up in your area ( Read “Get the most out of attending a career fair” ( for tips and advice.

Telephone anyone and everyone you know both in and out of healthcare, especially former coworkers and supervisors. Let them know what you are looking for generally. You should also attend nursing association meetings in your area such as the American Academy of Ambulatory Care Nurses ( You can attend local chapter meetings as a guest. When there’s something you want to do, it makes sense to rub elbows with those already doing it.

Become active on social media, including LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Social media has become a very effective and popular way to make connections and learn of opportunities.

Reading and using the tips in my book, “The ULTIMATE Career Guide for Nurses”
( would be very helpful in getting your networking, self-marketing, and job-finding skills up to date and help you transition back into the nursing job market.

If you can attend my Career Alternatives for Nurses seminar, it would be worthwhile. You will learn what jobs are hot today and what’s not, identify transferable skills and get specific company contact
information. See where I’ll be speaking (

When what you’re doing isn’t working, it’s time to try a new approach. In a competitive job market, you need to be much more proactive in your search. Use the suggestions in the above post, including the referenced articles and start generating some positive momentum in your job search. Read “Ten steps to successful job search” (

Best wishes,


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One Comment

  1. Avatar
    Kara April 10, 2020 at 4:40 am - Reply

    I received my bsn 2013
    Took boards failed
    Life happened never did retake of test
    Now its 2020 I would like to finish what i started
    Retake test
    I have always worked in hospital setting
    I live in Washington DC
    Told o need refresher course
    But not given too many options
    Where can i go for refresher course?

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