James Savage completed BU’s Return to Nursing Practice course, designed to support adult, children’s and mental health nurses who no longer have a ‘live’ registration with the Nursing & Midwifery Council to return to the profession after a break. Here, he shares his experience of the course.

“It was an enormous support to undertake the Return to Nursing Practice (RtNP) course amongst a group of individuals where we were all a part of the same community. We had all been away from the profession for various amounts of time, and for various reasons. Some of us had been hospital trained, others like me had been graduates but away from academia for a long time.

“Having completed post-registration education in critical care in London, I decided to try nursing in the USA – suffice to say as a UK-trained nurse, I found it extremely ethically challenging. Returning to the UK, I decided to step away for a time to reassess and then, as my partner was diagnosed with MS, in many ways my career became a secondary priority.

“I began working in the aviation industry while caring for my partner, who died 18 months ago. In many ways, I never really stepped away from the profession, as I was looking after one person with progressively complex healthcare needs. I never fell out of love with nursing, but rather circumstances dictated otherwise. The Covid-19 pandemic spurred my desire to ‘do my bit’.

“BU delivered a supportive and nurturing academic environment. There was a real feeling of focus on behalf of the academic staff in supporting the cohort to successfully complete and regain entry. The course was a great refresher on healthcare legislation and clinical skills days proved to be a great confidence booster. Yes, I can still catheterize a patient and insert an IV cannula – hurrah!

“My biggest achievement happened while looking after a patient during placement. The individual had been given a terminal diagnosis and I made time to sit down with them and give them time to chat, offload, and cry. On discharge she asked to see me to say thanks. As her nurse, I gave her the opportunity to discuss and react to the news she’d just received. Everyone else had been superb on a practical level – but I made time and space for her to just chat, and help her process the information she’d received. She described me as a credit and asset to the profoession and a real nurse and a I cannot begin to describe how that made me feel. 

“Having completed the RtNP programme and gaining entry back onto the register, with a little thinking outside of the box, I’ve successfully secured a registered nurse post within the palliative care environment. This isn’t where I worked on my placement ward, but that experience gave me positive appraisals and enabled me to establish solid working relationships.

“For anyone considering returning to nursing, have faith in your ability! You’ll be surprised by just how much you’ve remembered and how quickly you will resharpen your skills. Embrace the technology – it’s nowhere near as scary as it looks – and be prepared for surprises. You’re re-entering the profession with additional life skills under your belt. The way we nurse has changed a little – but the core values have not.”