1. Blankenship, Jean S. MSN, RN, APRN,BC
  2. Winslow, Susan A. MSN, RN, APRN, BC
  3. Smith, Ann Underwood MSN, RN, FNP, CNOR


A refresher course developed in conjunction with a local community college has been successful in facilitating workforce reentry by inactive and retired RNs. Support of the program by the hospital, and exposure to the hospital during the clinical practicum, has reaped benefits as the majority of participants have sought employment upon completion of the course.


The current nursing shortage is being characterized as a national crisis, as increasing numbers of nurses retire or leave for other jobs and smaller numbers of nurses enter the workforce (Duff, 2002). The average age of registered nurses is 45.2 years, with 40% of the nursing workforce predicted to be over the age of 50 by 2010. Nearly 500,000 RNs are inactive or employed in fields other than nursing (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2002). Initiatives to entice inactive RNs back into practice or to delay the retirement of experienced nurses have been identified to alleviate the current nursing shortage (Buerhaus, Staiger, & Auerbach, 2000).


Recognizing the role that inactive or retired nurses could have in easing the nursing shortage, Martha Jefferson Hospital, a "Top 100" community hospital in Charlottesville, VA, conducted focus groups to explore the feasibility of designing unique roles for these nurses. Feedback from inactive RNs through facilitated discussion indicated that a refresher course would be useful in promoting workforce reentry. Initial discussions between hospital representatives and the dean of the local community college nursing program took place to determine interest and commitment to reentry initiatives.


As a result, Martha Jefferson Hospital collaborated with Piedmont Virginia Community College (PVCC) in the summer of 2001 to develop a refresher course for RNs. The six-credit course provides the opportunity for exposure to current nursing theory and practice and prepares the returning RN for entry into an employment-based orientation program.