How to make re-entering nursing easier after a hiatus

By | 2016-12-01T02:52:20-05:00 November 30th, 2016|Tags: , , |7 Comments

Nurses may choose to temporarily leave the profession for any number of reasons. Perhaps it’s to raise a child or recover from a temporary disability. Perhaps it’s to try another profession or pursue another goal. Regardless of the reason for the hiatus, nurses who return to the profession are likely to find that re-entering the profession can be a challenge — unless they have prepared for the possibility. If you’re a nurse who must temporarily stop working, it’s important to remain as engaged as possible during your time away. Here are three tips for doing so:

Maintain your credentials, knowledge base

Fulfilling the requirements to maintain your license and certifications helps you remain eligible for employment as a nurse. This includes keeping track of your continuing education, especially if you live in a state where you are required to earn a certain number of CE credits. 

Conferences and seminars also are helpful in keeping you in the loop on current trends in patient care, healthcare policies and so on, and are great for networking. Many excellent online learning opportunities exist for those who prefer to learn remotely. Nursing care and medicine are constantly changing in relation to evidence-based practice, research, treatments, technology and pharmacology, and it’s important for nurses on a break from the workforce to invest some time for their edification.

Stay involved

Continued membership in state, local, regional and national nursing organizations can keep you connected to colleagues and thought leaders. Membership also keeps you up to date with new challenges within the profession and legislative and other changes affecting nurses. You also have access to useful information via nursing organizations’ websites and can attend their local and national conferences. If you have time, serving on committees or boards is a powerful way to network and serve the profession.

Take advantage of social media and the internet

Through the skillful use of social media and by reading online articles by reputable organizations, nurses who are not active in the workforce can keep abreast of the latest news in the profession. Twitter and Facebook are platforms frequented by many individuals and organizations within nursing, medicine and science. Blogs, articles, professional journals, videos and podcasts all are viable means for remaining educated and informed. 

Myriad methods exist to remain engaged. Doing so can be part of your career strategy, especially if you plan to return to the nursing workforce. Consider devoting a certain number of hours per month to maintaining your credentials and license and staying connected and educated, while on a nursing hiatus. Keeping current on changes in the industry can make your return to nursing a lot easier.

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About the Author:

Keith Carlson, BSN, RN, NC-BC
Keith Carlson, BSN, RN, NC-BC, is the Board Certified Nurse Coach behind and the award-winning blog, Digital Doorway. A widely published writer, Keith is the author of “Savvy Networking For Nurses: Getting Connected and Staying Connected in the 21st Century.”


  1. Avatar
    Linda Dillon Rydman December 6, 2016 at 9:08 pm - Reply

    Previously it was required that if you were not engaged in clinical practice in a preceding 2 year period, you had to take competency CE to ensure this prior to reactivating your career. Has this changed, now, with access to CE and social media educational sources?

    • Heather Cygan
      Heather Cygan December 7, 2016 at 11:03 pm - Reply


      Thank you for your inquiry.

      In the United States, we have state requirements for license renewal, and those requirements vary from state to state. In New York, for example, an RN must take a CE module on infectious disease every three years (upon license renewal), and a child abuse course once in his or her lifetime as an RN. Above and beyond the required CE modules on specific topics, some states require RNs to complete an additional specific number of CE credits per license renewal, and those numbers vary from state to state. Some states have no CE credit requirements for license renewal.

      When an RN returns to work after a job hiatus, the facility where she or he chooses to work will have their own set of requirements which may include a clinical refresher within the facility or one offered in the community or at a university. All facilities offer an orientation program for newly hired nurses, which has clinical, pharmacy, IT and human resource components. Some facilities provide preceptor programs, where newly hired nurses work directly with experienced nurses for a specified period of time.

      • Avatar
        Debra December 25, 2016 at 12:48 am - Reply

        Muchas gracias por tu amabilidad. Más allá de mis retos y circunstancias profesionales, me mueve la necesidad de comunicar de forma eficaz los principios de la ley de la atracción porque tengo el firme contnecimienvo, abalado por mi experiencia, de que es una fuerza increible para transformar nuestras vidas. Siéntete libre de continuar leyendo mis contenidos y, si lo crees oportuno, invita a otros a leerlos. Te deseo la mayor de las suertes en todo cuanto necesites.J. Rosals

  2. Avatar
    Jerry P Gonzales, RN, BSN, MHA, LTC (Ret) December 7, 2016 at 2:51 pm - Reply

    Liked your article Keith! I have a predicament where I don’t have recent bedside nursing experience for the last 2-3 years yet I have about 40 years post BSN experience 20 of which was military. I attend many nursing conferences and maintain lots of CEUs but most San Antonio hospitals, clinics, etc. want younger bedside RNs. My Masters is in HCA so I have about 18 years in leadership and managerial roles of which CNO at Brooke Army Medical Center was my last military osition. Thus, they see me as an administration with not much recent bedside experience. I prefer only part time Out Patient RN roles so that may be part of the problem. There are so few related positions.

  3. Avatar
    Wanda Gibson February 1, 2017 at 3:23 pm - Reply

    I left nursing in 2004 for medical reasons…is it too late for me to reenter the field in Texas?

  4. Avatar
    Joan March 30, 2019 at 1:07 am - Reply

    I am renewing my license for LPN and it has been since 2015 since I worked as an LPN. Are there places that would even consider hiring me after that many years? Also do LPN’s need any CE credits to return working as an LPN?

    I am quite nervous about going back into nursing but when I realized I was going to renew I started feeling more confidentn than I have in a long while.

    Any suggestions how to start catching would be appreciated. I am a resident of Pennsylvania.

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