Nursing Return to Practice Experience – Lisa Pidgeon
“I left nursing in 1998 and my Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) PIN had lapsed in 2005. It was always in the back of my mind to return to nursing, but I just didn’t have the capacity to do this until I was confident that my children were set on the path to a stable future.
At the start of the pandemic, my eldest at University and my youngest becoming an independent teenager, my thoughts about returning to nursing returned, especially after seeing all of the media coverage of the demands being place on NHS staff. However, I was approached and encouraged to apply for funding (which was successful) to deliver arts for health work online for people at risk of social isolation and mental health decline resulting from the restrictions placed by the pandemic. I was proud of the work I did during this time reaching so many people and helping them though this unprecedented period. By the end of the pandemic, around about Feb 2022, though my thoughts drifted back towards the possibility of returning to nursing.
I did some research about the best route for me to return. I discovered there were different pathways and I opted for a Return to Practice (RTP) taught course at Northampton University. The course, which I started in May 2022 after an application process, was 16 weeks long and involved a mixture of attending lectures and completing e-learning modules. Alongside this, I needed to complete a minimum of 150 hours placement on a local hospital ward, so that I could be assessed for competency. I was allocated to Ward 29 at Glenfield Hospital, very handy for me as I live just over 3 miles away. Also, as part of the RTP course we had to complete 3 reflective practice assignments. It had been a while since I had written an academic piece, and I had trepidation as I am dyslexic. However, the support given by Northampton University was excellent and I was soon taking it in my stride.
Whilst on placement I was advised, by one of the matrons responsible for recruitment, to put in an application for a job even though I had not yet had my NMC PIN activated. The deadline was short, I had just 24hrs to get the application in, another challenge as I had not applied for a nursing post for many years. But I did it and was offered an interview a week later, and subsequently offered a Staff Nurse position, including a 12-month preceptorship period. A few weeks after my offer I was sent a list of available places to choose from and I was thrilled to be offered one of my first choices CCU at Glenfield Hospital.
I started on CCU on 5 December 2022, just 7 months after starting the RTP course.
It was quite a surreal moment putting that uniform back on. I feel that I have made a massive personal achievement and am proud that I have been able to jump numerous hurdles and am now settling into role on CCU Glenfield. I feel I am at the beginning again with the excitement and trepidation of a new start. But I am optimistic and see my development and learning as an ongoing process, focussing on being the best nurse that I can be.”