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Is there a mandate in the U.S. requiring nurses to take a refresher course if they have been out of the workforce for several years?


Dear Donna,

I graduated in 2010 from a community college, took the NCLEX and passed in 2013. I recently got my work permit and am officially legal to practice. I’ve been hearing that RNs who haven’t practiced in three to four years are mandated to take a refresher course. I have never practiced. Is this accurate and is this true everywhere or only in New York? Where would be the best place for me to start?

Delayed Start

Dear Donna replies:

Dear Delayed Start,

It is not true that there is a statewide mandate in New York or anywhere else requiring nurses take refresher courses if they have been out of the workforce for several years. What is true is most hospitals simply won’t hire nurses who do not have current hospital experience, with or without a refresher course.

The hospital job market is completely changing. As the delivery of care moves out of the hospital and into the home, the community, the ambulatory care setting and alternate inpatient settings, so too do the nursing jobs. Read “New nurse, new job strategies” ( to help you overcome some of the obstacles of finding a job when you do not have experience.

You may have envisioned your career starting in a hospital and you may have people telling you it’s a must to start in a hospital. It may just not be possible or practical for you right now in a hospital setting. But take heart; the nursing job market changes every 10 years or so, so things may reverse themselves in the future and provide a shot at acute care.

In the meantime, as the above-referenced article indicates, you need to look in new directions for employment and need to learn and use new skills to find jobs and get interviews. My book, “The Ultimate Career Guide for Nurses” can help you prep for getting a job (

I encourage you to attend my upcoming Career Alternatives for Nurses seminar for several reasons. It will update you on the changing job market and provide information, resources and even leads on where nursing jobs area. I will go into detail about how to write a winning resume (you even get sample forms) and interview like a pro. This is a seminar every nurse should attend regardless of her current position. I’ll be in New Jersey in March and New York in October ( Don’t wait until October if you can help it. This seminar also is available in a home-study version (

It is important you not remain idle while seeking your first nursing job. You should start volunteering as a nurse somewhere while you continue to look for paid employment. Volunteering gives you recent relevant experience to put on your resume, provides an opportunity to hone old skills while learning new ones, expands your professional network and builds confidence. It also is a good way to get your foot in the door somewhere as volunteer work often turns into paid employment. Seek these opportunities in your local public health department, a free clinic or blood bank. Be sure to have your nursing liability insurance up to date if you’re going to do anything hands-on.

Best wishes,

By | 2021-05-28T17:24:11-04:00 February 16th, 2015|Categories: Nursing Careers and Jobs|0 Comments

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