Nurses '99: Welcome Back to the Wards; HELP WITH THAT BOLD FIRST STEP

Article excerpt

A HUGE welcome awaits former nurses crossing the threshold back to the bedside - and to newcomers starting out on training for the first time.

Never have nurses been more needed or appreciated. The welcome is there both for those considering nursing as a career and those who have taken a career break - perhaps to be a full-time mother - or gone into other types of work.

Whether you are male or female, embarking on a first career or returning, enrolled or registered, young or not so young, the patients and the health service need your abilities and skills.

A better deal has been designed to reflect the value the NHS puts on nurses and the jobs they do. It is also designed to reflect the fact that returning to work can seem an awesome step after a period of absence.

Easing the path of returners so that old skills can be regained and new ones learnt is part of the process. So is the recognition that there may be concerns about child care.

Nursing is more than a job, it is a passion. But could you do it now?

You may be concerned that your skills are rusty, but the health service will retrain you. Unfamiliar new technology will become familiar during training, as will more family-friendly methods of management.

Nurses who have successfully returned often say they suffered fear and trepidation before making the first overtures - and then afterwards wondered why they had worried so much. Lack of confidence after years away is a common part of the picture. But once on board, this rapidly changes as memories of nursing practice flood back and enthusiasm and skills mount.

Over the next three years, more than pounds 18 billion is being invested in an ambitious programme of modernisation in the NHS in England.

Staff are the key to delivering modern and dependable services. An extra 6,000 nurse training places are being provided and funding is being made available for up to 15,000 more nurses.

It is designed to attract more nurses back into the NHS - encouraging family-friendly working arrangements and funding more return-to- nursing initiatives.

Nursing is about enabling a person to achieve physical, psychological or social well-being, because it affects all those three aspects of people's lives. It could mean nursing a child through cancer treatment or encouraging a stroke victim to do everyday tasks that will bring back dignity and self-esteem.

It could involve counselling someone who is suicidal or helping a psychotic patient to come to terms with the voices in his head. It could mean putting up drips and changing dressings.

Inevitably, in our ageing society, it will mean increasing opportunities to care for the elderly.

There are many connected strands to nursing. The profession is organised into four specialisations: adult, child health, mental health and learning disability. There are the distinct professions of midwifery and health visiting. Considerable career choice is available within the initial choice of nursing or midwifery.

Nursing can be hard work, but it is rarely dull or repetitive. It helps if you are not squeamish about the sight of blood, but, once qualified, many nurses never have to dress a wound again.

Nurses do not become hardened to suffering. They develop the skills and strength to provide support where it is needed.

The door is open. Come in.

FOR more information on an NHS nursing career, you can call the NHS Careers line on 0845 6060655 or look at the Department of Health website at

Rhoda, 37

Returned to nursing

after fifteen years

MOTHER of three Rhoda Healey has returned to nursing after a 15-year break - and is enjoying every minute of it.

She is working as an enrolled nurse on a busy surgical ward at Wexham Park Hospital in Slough, Berks, after taking a three-month return-to-nursing course. …