Getting back into scrubs

I think that every nurse I know has a story about jumping in to help during an emergency outside of the work setting. I’ve had several over the years, the most recent being this past summer while out with my kids. It was an evening out at the park, close to dinner time, so it wasn’t very crowded. Suddenly a young boy ran from the swings holding his head. His mom (or another caregiver – I’m not certain what the relationship was) was seated at the next bench, not very far from me. She started to scream and cry.

I could see the blood coming down the little boy’s neck and quickly ran over to help. Fortunately I had a towel in my bag since we had just come from the pool. As I approached, the mom/caregiver stepped away crying and fell into the arms of another woman who was there. I quickly assessed his head (it was a pretty big gash) and held pressure with the towel while lowering him to the ground where we sat and waited for emergency medical services (EMS) to arrive.

All the while, my own children were watching in fear. After the EMS team arrived and took over the boy’s care, which included a trip to our local emergency department, we collected our stuff and headed toward the car. I reassured them that the little boy would be okay and that he might just need some stitches. The conversation that ensued with my one son went something like this:

Me: “It’s a good thing there was a nurse around, huh?”

My son: “There was?”

Me (shocked): “Yes! Me!”

My son: “Oh yeah…I forgot you’re a nurse. You're more of a ‘typer’ than a nurse though, mom.”

The conversation went on a little longer, but I must say it was as if something just hit me right then. I’d recently been considering getting back to patient care, but hadn’t even begun to look into job opportunities or refresher courses in the area. This brings me to my reason for sharing this story…

I’ve been away from bedside nursing for more than 10 years and have a few questions for anyone else that took a similar “hiatus” and then returned to patient care.

1. What steps did you take to prepare for a return to bedside nursing?
2. Did you return to your prior place of employment or a similar unit, or did you start over in a new area or with a different patient population?
3. How easy or hard was it making the transition?

Please share your story! I look forward to any advice you may have for me!

Thank you :-)

Posted: 10/15/2012 2:04:26 PM by Lisa Bonsall, MSN, RN, CRNP | with 6 comments

Lisa Bonsall, MSN, RN, CRNP
Hi Nancy,
That is great to hear!
Thank you,
8/7/2015 2:08:07 PM

October 11. 2012 13:25
I was out of bedside nursing for about eight years while working as a case manager. When I decided that I wanted to get back into the clinical arena, I took a job working alternate weekend shifts in a small community hospital while maintaining my "regular" 9 to 5 job. Yes, it was hard, but I found that my clinical skills were not as rusty as I thought they were.
After about one year of doing this I returned to full time work in the hospital. It has been over seven years now and I don't regret making the change back to the clinical arena.
8/7/2015 2:07:49 PM

Lisa Bonsall, MSN, RN, CRNP
October 10. 2012 22:46
Thanks Amy! Best of luck to you!
Lisa Bonsall
8/7/2015 2:07:29 PM

October 10. 2012 06:27
I have been away from nursing for about 5 years now. I am hoping for May to take my refresher course. My situation is a bit different. I came out of nursing school and did not locate a job quite as easily as some of my friends did. I worked in an internship for 2 months and did not adjust too well with nights and all the "school" work this hospital made you do in conjunction with your orientation. So, that did not last long. I could not find another job at the time. I truly believe I am older now and can be a nurse more than when I finished college. I'm looking at my refresher course with a new perspective in starting over. In ways I am preparing to return before my refresher course are: volunteering and studying key elements of nursing in my spare time. I volunteer on a med-surg floor and have learned so much in the process. That may be a great idea for you if it fits your schedule. Good luck with everything. I hope it is a smooth transition for you and me.
8/7/2015 2:07:12 PM

Lisa Bonsall, MSN, RN, CRNP
October 7. 2012 01:24
Hi Penny,
Thanks for sharing your story! I'm a bit overwhelmed with the thought of starting over again, so reading your comment is very helpful and encouraging Smile
Thanks so much,
8/7/2015 2:06:52 PM

October 6. 2012 13:08
I returned to nursing after a 14 year hiatus (extended maternity leave, 4 children in 6 years!). I had taught Lamaze classes in the interim, but wanted to take care of patients again. I took my refresher course, and applied for a job with a Home Health agency, where I was able to step into a setting with home care pts instead of the "bedside". That is also where I learned I have a knack and love for hospice nursing, and eventually moved over to an acute care inpatient hospice facility. My previous area of work was ICU, so I complely changed course, and loved the challenge and change of focus (although many of our patients come to us from ICS, some vent patients, an occasional VAD!!!).

You have such education!! Go for it, Mom!!!
8/7/2015 2:06:12 PM