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Should an RN without recent experience, who cannot take an RN refresher course due to its distant location, take a CNA course instead?


Dear Donna,

I have kept my RN license current, but have not practiced for many years. Since traveling to take an RN refresher course is not possible at this time, do you think I should consider a CNA course? Would a CNA course be considered CE credit?

Stay at Home Mom

Dear Donna replies:

Dear Stay at Home Mom,

You don’t mention how long you’ve been out of the workforce. But the most important thing for you to know is the nursing job market, along with the entire healthcare delivery system, has changed dramatically in the last 10 years. The old model of taking a refresher course and getting back into a hospital bedside position is not currently relevant or practical. Hospitals are downsizing and for the most part are only hiring nurses with current hospital experience. So even if you did take a refresher course, it would not likely help you get a hospital job. But you do have other options.

Regarding taking a CNA course, which I can only assume is a Certified Nursing Assistant course, there is absolutely no point in it. It will not have CEUs associated with it. Plus it is way too basic for an RN, even one who has been out of the workforce for some time.

What you do need to do is start volunteering in a nursing role as you transition back into the paid nursing workforce. Volunteering gives you recent relevant experience to put on your resume and discuss on an interview. Plus it helps you to build work stamina, hone old skills and learn new ones and expand your professional network. It also is a way to get your foot in the door somewhere and often leads to paid employment. Look for nurse volunteer positions in your local public health department, a free clinic, the American Red Cross, American Heart Association or a blood bank.

Also contact some nursing employment agencies about nontraditional positions to get you started. You might be able to get some paid work at flu shot clinics this time of year.

I also recommend you join and get active in your state chapter of the American Nurses Association ( Attend local meetings as a guest for now. This is a great way to get reconnected to your profession, get up to date on issues and trends and further expand yournetwork. Networking is known to be a very effective way to hear about leads and get interviews. I always say when there’s something you want to do, it makes sense to rub elbows with those successfully doing it.

Even though it’s a few months off, I suggest you consider attending my Career Alternatives for Nurses seminar in NJ in March 2015. There are so many nontraditional options for nurses these days. Find out more (

While career fairs slow down this time of year, they will kick into high gear sometime in early 2015. So watch for 2015 dates and locations as they get posted here ( Career fairs also are great opportunities to learn about nontraditional opportunities, hone self-marketing and networking skills and chat with employers about their needs. Read “How to get the most out of attending a career fair”(

By | 2014-11-17T00:00:00-05:00 November 17th, 2014|Categories: Blogs, Nursing careers and jobs|0 Comments

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