- 27 November 2018
- 7 min read
How to return to professional nursing or midwifery practice after a career break
If you’ve had a career break from nursing or midwifery, you may decide you want to return to your profession. Here’s how to get back on the NMC register.
As a qualified nurse or midwife you are always entitled to return to work after a career break, but if your registration has lapsed you may need to follow the NMC process for returning to the register.
Nursing jobs in the UK are only available to NMC registered nurses, and unless you are currently registered with the NMC (or soon to be) you will not be able to apply for any vacancies.
In order to legally work as a nurse or midwife in the UK, you must have an active NMC registration.
If this registration lapses for whatever reason, it is a criminal offence to continue to practice as a nurse.
An NMC registration is valid for 3 years as long as the annual retention fee is paid and the notification of practice form is returned with at least 15 days before the renewal date.
There are a multitude of reasons why a nurse or midwife’s registration may lapse; from simply forgetting to renew it as the appropriate time to not having undertaken the required number of practice or CPD (Continuing Professional Development) hours or not being able to meet another required standard for successful revalidation.
Another reason why a nurse or midwife may have a lapsed registration is if they have not practiced for enough time for their registration to have lapsed, either through working abroad or through a career break.
Being readmitted on to the NMC Register
In order to be readmitted to the NMC register, there are several criteria any nurse or midwife needs to fulfil.
They boil down to:
• Sufficient practice hours undertaken
• Requisite continuing professional development (CPD) undertaken
• Health and Character – basically a declaration you are fit and healthy and have no impairments to being able to practice effectively
• Professional indemnity arrangement (basically malpractice insurance) – the NHS insures its staff to practice, but if you’re in the private sector this is something you will need to sort out yourself.
• References – if required
• English Language requirement – you must be able to prove you have the necessary command of the English language.
Requirements to rejoin the register as a Midwife
The requirements for rejoining differ according to whether you are a nurse or a midwife.
If you are returning to midwifery job after a career break, the requirements are considerably less specific than returning to work as a nurse.
In order to begin practising as a midwife again, you will need to complete the intention to practise form for the current supervisory year (1 April - 31 March) and have a named supervisor of midwives who, along with your employer, will support you back to work.
There are Return to Midwifery Practice courses available, which may be of benefit to you if you have not practised for a considerable time.
Every nurse and midwife working in the UK is contractually obliged to renew their registration in order to maintain their employment.
Requirements to rejoin the register as a Nurse
If you are a qualified nurse, you will need to complete some rather specific requirements.
You will need to show that you have complete 750 hours of registered practice in the 5 years previous to your request to rejoin.
You will also need to give evidence of 35 hours of learning activity within the previous 3 years.
Practice experience can include supervisory, teaching, research and managerial roles as well as direct patient care jobs. However, you may not include hours accrued when you were lapsed or not registered (eg, HCA experience).
If you can meet these requirements, you just need to contact the NMC for a readmission pack, which will need to be completed in conjunction with two nominated referees.
There is guidance available to show who is eligible to be a referee for you, and you should contact the NMC directly if you require this.
There is an alternative option for qualified nurses that cannot show the require hours of practice, and that is to complete a returning to practice nursing course.
There are many universities throughout the UK that offer this type of course, but they are all very similar in content.
Course intakes usually happens in either September or February / March, and consist of a combination of academic study and clinical placement experience.
Arranging your placement is usually your responsibility, and most universities will ask you to supply details of your placement when you apply for the course.
What happens on a Return to Practice Nursing Course
You will attend a university campus on a part time basis to complete an academic theory module, and in conjunction with this you will also attend a clinical placement for the duration of the course.
The academic portion of the course will focus on a student centred approach to learning and will cover some common themes, whichever university you choose to study with.
You will cover topics such as:
● Reflective Policy
● Health and Social Policy
● Research Awareness
● Teaching and Learning
● Professional Issues - Ethical and Legals
● Health Promotion
● Communication Skills
● Drug Administration
● Clinical Issues - inc. wound management, diabetes and infection control
● Manual Handling
● Study skills, critical reading and referencing
Your clinical placement experience will give you the opportunity to put your refreshed academic knowledge into practice.
You will work closely with a named mentor who will re-introduce you to working at registered nurse level.
You will achieve specific learning outcomes and your mentor will validate your learning experience.
Once the course is completed you will send evidence of your learning achievements along with your application to re-register to the NMC, and once the renewal is paid you can expect your NMC pin number to arrive within 4-6 weeks, although it has been known to take both less and more time than this!
How to apply for a Return to Practice Course
All Return to Nursing or Midwifery Practice courses are run through universities, but you don’t apply through UCAS as with other university level courses.
You should enquire directly to the university you want to study with for an application pack.
It’s unclear whether any NHS funding is available to cover course fees, but you can enquire when you apply for the university when you apply.
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