How to Go Back to a Nursing Career

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Written by Ayana Dunn, BSN, RN Content Writer, IntelyCare
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Nurses take breaks from the profession due to a variety of life changes. It’s understandable to feel nervous about returning to nursing after a career break, but remember, plenty of people manage to resume their nursing careers successfully. You can too. Interested in applying to available nursing jobs? Here’s some advice on how to go back to a nursing career.

Make Sure Your License Is Still Active

This is the first practical consideration on the journey of how to get back to nursing. If you’ve maintained your license, you’ve likely saved yourself some steps. If you’ve allowed your license to become inactive, you may have to complete additional tasks such as extra continuing education, a refresher course, or pay a larger fee. Check with your state board of nursing for the requirements.

Obtain Required Continuing Education and Certifications

Regardless of your license status, you’ll have to obtain nursing continuing professional development (NCPD) hours. You might be up to date if you’ve maintained an active license. If not, fulfill your state’s requirements for licenses that have been inactive. You can also tailor your choice of NCPD to refresh yourself. Update your basic life support certification and any others that will be of use to you. Check out the courses at IntelyEdu that can help you update your skills.

Update Your Resume

Updating your nursing resume is a given, just make sure it includes all the recent changes you’ve made. If it’s been a long time since you’ve practiced, it would be helpful to research current RN resumes to make sure your resume format is up to date. If you feel unsure, you can always work with a professional to refine it.

Take a Refresher Course

If you feel the need, take a course to brush up on your skills. Refresher courses are key for nurses figuring out how to go back to a nursing career after many years out of practice. They review common nursing skills and theories, and are available online and in-person. This boosts your chances of employment and increases your sense of safety and confidence. Check with your state board of nursing for approved courses.

Pick Up Where You Left Off vs a Fresh Start

Nursing’s many options give you the opportunity to change the direction of your career. Would you return to a facility at which you were once employed? Do you want to resume the specialty you left? Are you better off starting at a lower acuity before returning to high acuity patients? Do you still want to work directly with patients?

Confidence in your answers to these questions can give you a better sense of direction in your return to healthcare. Keep in mind, there are many career change opportunities opportunities where nursing knowledge is valued but won’t be used for patient care, such as health writing or a position within the pharmaceutical industry

Learn From Your Past

This is an important step when navigating how to go back to a nursing career. Recollect past workplaces and create a list of positive and negative qualities for each facility. Are there patterns they share?

This step is useful regardless of your situation, but especially if you left the profession due to burnout. You don’t want to be placed in the same position that prompted you to leave in the first place. This list also provides inspiration for the workplace you want and deserve.

Review Common Interview Questions

Prepare yourself for the interview and be ready to discuss why you went on a hiatus. If you’ve worked in another industry, try to find ways to tie that knowledge into your nursing practice. Don’t feel nervous. It’s normal for nurses to take breaks from the profession. Take a look at some common RN interview questions and prepare your answers in advance.


Get in contact with professional peers, but be mindful of how you go about this. Some people wouldn’t mind your reaching out for an opportunity, others may take some coaxing. You can start with quick well wishes for birthdays or holidays so that you’re more top of mind by the time you inquire about opportunities.

Attending networking events can help you meet people who can connect you to opportunities that wouldn’t be readably available among your past colleagues. This is especially important if you’re wondering how to go back to a nursing career with a new direction or focus.

Another option is to join a nursing organization. This increases your networking opportunities, and keeps you informed about industry changes. It also shows your dedication to the profession.

Find Great Per Diem Opportunities Today

If you want to take the next step after you’ve thought about how to go back to a nursing career, consider easing yourself back in by picking up some per diem shifts. Need some help with that? IntelyCare lets you choose when and where you want to work. Take a look at all the per diem nursing jobs available right now to get started.