5 Tips for Nurses Returning to Work

If you’ve been away from nursing for a while, but are looking to resume your career, it’s certainly not too late. We’re in the midst of a decade of growth for nursing — the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has forecasted a 15 percent increase in nursing jobs between 2016 and 2026 — and future trends hint at more of the same.

If you’re looking to return to a nursing career, here are five specific actions you can take to prepare.

1. Survey the Field

There are many opportunities out there, and doing some research at the outset can help you determine which positions best fit your education, experience and specialization. If you’re open to moving or traveling, that will expand your options even further. But, even if you are focusing your job search to one locale, consider how far you’d be willing to commute within your area. Don’t limit yourself to job search websites like Glassdoor or Monster; you should also go to the sites of hospitals and other healthcare providers on your wish list to see what’s available.

2. Be Able to Explain Your Work History

Know that pursuing education or a different career track or taking time to raise a family are all reasonable explanations for the gap in your resume. A prospective employer will likely ask about it, though, so you should be prepared to talk about your activities during those times. If you did anything to keep up with nursing education while you were away, make sure to talk about that.

3. Get to Know Other Nurses Through Networking

We live in an age in which networking can happen both in the real world and online, and it’s a good idea for you to connect with nurses in your community as you’re preparing to re-enter the job market. By talking to nurses who are currently working, you can get a sense of what they’re experiencing on a day-to-day basis as well as in their careers. A December 2016 Nurse.com article, citing a 2008 Gallup survey, noted that more than two-thirds of respondents found networking an essential element in being hired.

4. Be Patient

A Monster.com article on returning to nursing notes that even upon finding a job — a process that could last a while — it can take as much as a year to fully readjust to your role as a nurse on a healthcare team. While it’s possible to find a fast track to a nursing job, don’t be discouraged if it takes some time to get an interview, or if the first interview doesn’t lead to a job.

5. If You Don’t Have a BSN, Get One       

Healthcare providers are increasingly favoring RNs with BSN degrees over RNs who don’t have them. BSN-prepared nurses bring more knowledge and a more comprehensive understanding of best practices for 21st century nursing. And, as a 2014 study based in a Philadelphia teaching hospital demonstrated, there’s a positive correlation between the number of BSN-prepared nurses on staff and patient outcomes. Mississippi College’s RN to BSN program is a pathway to a BSN degree that allows you to “elevate your caring practice in as few as 12 months,” and it was designed to develop compassionate and knowledgeable nurse leaders who will help transform healthcare.

Making the investment in the RN to BSN program can pay dividends in the job search as well as in the career-long development of a nurse.

Learn more about the Mississippi College online RN to BSN program.


U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Registered Nurses

Monster: Return to Nursing

Nurse.com: Essential Tips for Returning to the Workforce

Nurse.com: Ratios of BSN-Prepared Nurses Affect Patient Mortality Rates

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