Life is full of unexpected surprises. Whether good or bad, these surprises may require people to take time away from work. Some may need to take time to start families, take care of children, help aging loved ones, or even take care of themselves. Life happens, and that’s okay.
But what do you do when you have taken some time off from work—whether it be months or years—and are now ready to get back into the workplace? As a nurse, there are a variety of ways you can ease the transition. Here are some key tips for nurses that plan on returning to work.
Update your nursing license and any certifications
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Nurses are required by state law to keep their licenses up to date. It can be expensive to reinstate a license that is out of date.
For Registered Nurses and Licensed Vocational Nurses in the state of California:
- Your first RN or LVN license is issued for two birthdays. From then on, it is valid for two years after renewal.
- The California Board of Registered Nursing mails renewal notices about three months prior to the expiration date.
- You are required to complete 30 contact hours of continuing education for license renewal plus a renewal fee.
- If you have paid the renewal fee but did not complete 30 hours of continuing education, your status is inactive. To start working again, you will need to complete your CE credits.
- Renewal also requires fingerprinting and reporting disciplines/convictions.
- If you have failed to renew your license within four years of the expiration date, your license is delinquent. You are expected to pay all accrued and unpaid renewal fees in addition to any fees due upon renewal of a delinquent license. You also have to provide proof of CE credits and a conviction statement.
- If your license is delinquent for over four years, your license is officially expired. You cannot renew it. You must reapply and successfully complete licensing examination.
To learn more about renewal for a RN license, visit the Board of Registered Nursing (rn.ca.gov).
To learn more about renewal for a LVN license, visit the Board of Vocational Nursing (bvnpt.ca.gov).
Aside from maintaining your license, it’s a good idea to keep up certifications such as the Basic Life Support certification (BLS). There are a wide variety of organizations that offer this certification.
The majority of nurses are required to have their BLS before they begin working as a nurse. Keeping your license and any certifications you need up to date will make you much more attractive to potential employers.
Participate in a refresher course
One of the greatest ways to brush up on your skills is to participate in a nurse refresher course. These programs are developed for RNs and LVNs who have been out of the field for an extended period of time (often three years or longer) and are typically offered through local colleges and hospitals, or online.
Some individuals are required by the state to take a refresher course if their license is out of date or if they have been out of work for too long. These courses range in cost from under a thousand to nearly three thousand dollars and can take anywhere between a week and three months to complete.
Update your resume
You’ve renewed your license, your certifications are up to date, and you have brushed up on the necessary skills to feel confident entering the job market again. Now, it’s time to update your resume.
While your resume should include updated skillsets, you may also want to consider any changes in interests.
If you have been out of work for a number of years, you have the option to format your resume in different ways. For instance, a functional resume lists your skills and certifications first, instead of your work history, to show hiring managers what you have to offer.
Understand the schedule and benefits which are best for you
As you prepare to enter the job market again, it’s important to take a step back and think about what type of schedule you are prepared for. If you took time off for family or children, you may want to consider whether you are ready for a full-time role, or if you still need flexibility.
Consider other benefits that are important to you. Does your job need to be hyper local, or are you willing to drive far? What compensation are you expecting? Will you need support from your working environment, or are you able to work independently?
All these questions and more will help you choose the employer that is the best fit.
Hopefully, you stayed on good terms with your old employer before you took your time off. If so, check to see if they’re hiring when you decide to return to the workforce.
Keep your options open—you never know who may pass a great opportunity your way! Talk to friends, old coworkers, and past bosses in the healthcare space to learn about job openings.
Above all, stay positive
It can be challenging to put yourself back out there. Remember to stay positive and take one step at a time. By being proactive about renewing your license and certifications, updating your resume, participating in refresher courses, and networking, you will be many steps closer to finding a job.
While hands-on experience is highly valued in the healthcare industry, there are plenty of opportunities for nurses across California.
At NurseRegistry, we have a wide range of opportunities for nurses looking to return to work. Our clients range from private patients for care at home to facilities, such as skilled nursing facilities, surgery centers, infusion clinics, and more. You can choose from a variety of assignments to find the ones that best fit your preferences.
Flexibility. We’ll match you with the opportunities that best fit your skills and preferences—you choose which ones you accept. Start gradual, and take on more assignments as wanted.
Experience. Get back on your feet and work specifically in the skill set/nursing avenue that you are most comfortable with.
Location. We have opportunities across Northern and Southern California. You can decide how far you’re willing to commute.
If you’re interested in exploring assignments with NurseRegistry, call (650) 462-1001 to learn more. Or, apply online at NurseRegistry.com/applicants.