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Back to the Bedside; How to Refresh Your Skills and Get Back to Bedside Nursing

Back to the Bedside; How to Refresh Your Skills and Get Back to Bedside Nursing

So you have decided to go back to bedside nursing. In my nurse career coaching, I sometimes help nurses who want to return to the bedside. Common reasons for this situation are:

  • You were out of work for an extended period of time (voluntary or involuntary)
  • You have been doing non bedside nursing and want to pick up extra bedside nursing shifts
  • You have been doing non bedside nursing and feel you are losing your clinical skills and want to do something about it.

Whatever the reasons, there are steps to take to make a smart transition back to the bedside.

Barring you have not let your nursing license lapse, just like other nursing career transitions, this is about change. Plain and simple. I suggest you create a plan of action involving the following:

1. Decide on the Specialty

If you are returning to the bedside, this may be a great opportunity for you to choose a desired specialty. Perhaps you don’t want to return to the specialty you worked in before you transitioned from the bedside. Take some time to do research and choose your desired specialty wisely and then create a plan for entering that specialty. Be open.

You may not initially land a position in your desired specialty, but you may find another opportunity that is close to that specialty and that will give you experience needed to transition to the specialty you ultimately want to work in. Create a plan for entering that specialty and then start taking action. 

2. Refresh Your Skills

Regardless of the specialty that you choose (ie whether you worked in this specialty before or not), you will need to brush up on your skills. Here are a few suggestions for this:

  • Do you have any training/educational material from prior courses/inservices? If you do, pull it out and start reviewing.
  • Take a course. There are organizations that offer refresher/certification courses. Some of these courses are online and some are in person.
  • Do your research. Find out if local hospitals/colleges/private companies offer hands on courses.

3. Refresh Your Knowledge

Yes guys and gals, you may just need to dig out those books from the garage. :)
You also want to take some time to study new technologies/medications/procedures/etc (this all depends on your specialty).
You can also find a lot of information online, just make sure to find reputable sources.

4. Assess Your Computer Skills

My last nursing “job” was in Nursing Informatics. My title was the “Senior Clinical Analyst/CPOE ” at HCA Columbia Hospital. I implemented the CPOE (Computerized Provider Order Entry) system for the hospital. I tell you this because computers are here to stay folks. Like it or not. And believe me, many people do not like it.

Do not attempt to run away or avoid this. There is actual government regulation (HITECH Act) related to Electronic Health Records. This alone is one of the main driving factors for facilities to implement computerized data systems.

Nursing is constantly in transition. The best way you can deal with the transitions are to be open and willing to learn.If you are not too computer savvy, perhaps you can take a basic course at a local school. This may help you to feel more comfortable working with computers.

My #1 piece of advice regarding this is to RELAX. Computers are not “evil or stupid”.

If you go into this (or anything for that matter) with negative energy, chances are you will have a negative experience.


5.  Update your resume and make that baby SHINE!

Today’s job market is competitive. But you already know that right?

So what are you doing about it? Are you using a basic resume template you came across on a random website?

Did you take 15 minutes (or even less) to update your resume?

These are the actions that ‘most’ people are taking.

To stand out from the crowd of resumes that hiring authorities are receiving, you cannot do what everyone else is doing.

I know this sounds simple, but so many people ignore this.

My suggestion:

  • Really take the time to research what makes a stellar resume and then rewrite yours. Then rewrite it again. If you know someone who is great with resumes, ask them to take a peak at yours and give you honest feedback.
  • Hire a professional to critique it
  • Brush up on concepts like grammar, writing in the active voice, and using power words. If these concepts sound foreign to you, it may be a good idea to have someone help you.
Think about the time and energy as an investment. The better your resume, the better the result.

6. Brush up your interview skills

Do not blow a great opportunity by performing poorly on your interview.

You can download my free “Ultimate Guide to Completely Rockin’ Your Next Nursing Job Interview”.  It has over 20 pages of tips and specific suggestions for becoming a nursing interview PRO.

So what are you going to do next?

I don’t want you to feel overwhelmed. Pick just one action that you are going to take and then do it.

Write the action you have decided to take in the comments below.


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6 Responses to Back to the Bedside; How to Refresh Your Skills and Get Back to Bedside Nursing

  1. Amy Hagerup says:

    HI Alicia, This is my first time to this blog. Great advice here. I love your voice. I bet you are going to help a lot of people be great bedside nurses. I will definitely recommend you. Keep up the good work.

    • Alicia-Joy says:

      Hi Amy,

      Thank you for your kind words. It’s my goal to help nurses enjoy what they do, whether at the bedside or away from the bedside. I believe enjoying your work is super important.

      Thanks again for stopping by.


  2. [...] After all, technologies, policies, and procedures are always changing in medical facilities; but catching up may be easier than you think. These four refreshers can restore your confidence and help you brush [...]

  3. Love seeing other informatics nurses blogging! :)

    • Alicia-Joy says:

      Hey Brittney,

      Thanks for stopping by. I agree that it is nice when you see other nurse bloggers out there. Even more so nurses who work in same specialty. Nursing Informatics was my last nursing J-O-B and it was definitely one of the most challenging and at the same time rewarding. Lots of big projects with crazy deadlines. I think I got to know every single employee/manager/supervisor/physician in every department of the Hospital through all the implementations. :) I am sure you can relate. Nursing informatics was a HUGE reminder to me of all the different and varied options we have in nursing. It’s a fascinating field. And by the way I really enjoy your blog (http://thenerdynurse.com/). I too am a huge self proclaimed nerd. Always have been. I even have another site about my adventures in nerdom LOL. That site is more about learning, creativity, and virtual entrepreneurship.

  4. michelle webster says:

    I enjoyed reading your site information. I am in management for the last five years and would really like to know the links to where i can do refresher courses to get into icu nursing and get back to bedside at least on a per diem basis. Thanks
    Michelle RN, BSN

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