Nurses keen to return to nursing in 2020 are encouraged to sign up for ‘Return to Professional Practice’ course at the University of Northampton

Ann Walsh

The University of Northampton is encouraging nurses interested to return to nursing to sign up for their next return to professional practice course starting in February 2020.

NHS England[i] has a target of 1,500 to 2,000 nurses to be supported to return to work over the next two years, as part of their plans to grow the frontline NHS workforce. Since 2014 more than 4,200 have the commenced return to practice programmes and over 2,400 have completed and entered NHS employment[ii].

The University’s 16-week return to practice course enables nurses who have had a break from practice to rebuild their knowledge and skills and confidently return to professional practice. After successfully completing the course, they can re-apply for registration with Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) and start applying for nursing roles.

One nurse who recently completed the return to practice course at the University of Northampton is 48-year old Lynn Hoppenbrouwers, who gave up nursing in 2010 to take care of her disabled daughter.

Lynn started her nursing career at the age of 17 in 1989 and trained in Eastbourne. After qualifying, she worked in various nursing roles in Brighton and Hove, including at Brighton General Hospital, Hove Hospital and in various Community Nursing Teams.

In 2003, she moved to Bedfordshire and continued nursing. She worked in various Band 5 and 6 roles, including at NHS Direct, as well as a local hospice and in Northampton as a community nurse. However, she was unable to progress her career as much as she would have liked because of her caring responsibilities.

Lynn’s daughter sadly died in 2013. It was some time after this that Lynn decided to explore career options to return to nursing and she came across the return to practice course at the University of Northampton.

Lynn found the course straightforward although it was sometimes difficult juggling it along with her other commitments. She explains, “It was difficult working part-time and fitting in the logistics of travelling to the course and my placement, as well as the course work, but it’s only for a short period so it was definitely manageable.

“I really enjoyed the course and it was great to be back working with other nurses. I had really missed being with other likeminded people since leaving nursing, so it was lovely to be part of a nursing team again.  I was comfortable taking the course and I found my skills returned naturally. I did my placement in a local hospice which I really enjoyed. I have a keen interest in palliative care, and this is the area of nursing that I would like to specialise in.

Lynn recommends the return to practice course and says, “I loved working as a nurse, especially the interaction with the patients. I’d realised I had missed this. I thought my nursing days were behind me, so I am glad I found out about the return to practice course.

“The course has given me the option to get back into a career that I love. Doing my placement in the hospice reignited my interest in palliative and end of life care and I really enjoyed working there. This is the area I’m looking to start working in soon and I have recently applied for a full-time nursing post.”

Another nurse who recently complete the course is 56-year-old Ann Walsh. Ann trained as a nurse in Leicester and worked her way up to District Nursing Sister. However, she left nursing when she was in her late 20s as she decided to work part-time as she had a young family, which at the time wasn’t easy to do as a Sister.

For the past 15 years Ann has worked as a Practice Manager at Heath Lane Surgery in Earl Shilton in Leicester.  She decided to retire at 55 as she could take her nursing pension. But soon after retiring she knew she wanted to return.

Ann explains, “Working as a Practice Manager can be high pressured. I decided to retire as I wanted to take a step back. However, I that found that I missed being with patients. I loved nursing because of the patients, and I knew I wanted to return. I’m at a stage in my career where I’m not looking to rise up through the ranks, I just want to use my skills and experience as I was originally trained to do.”

Ann is currently waiting for her registration PIN with the NMC to come through and plans to apply to become a GP nurse in a local practice in Leicester once she has this.

Ann highly recommends the return to practice course. She says, “The course is excellent. The tutors are supportive and do an excellent job in facilitating the course and bringing us all together as a team.

“There was quite an age range on my course, from a young mum of 27 through to people of my age and it was great to connect with other nurses doing the same thing.  All the staff at the university really put themselves out in encouraging us all. I also had an excellent placement at a GP practice at Hockley Farm in Leicester.

“I recommend to anyone thinking about going back to do nursing to just get on and do it. The NHS is crying out for nurses and everyone that passes will be able to secure a job. It’s a really positive experience to be able to use the skills and experience I have built up over many years to help care for people.”

The University of Northampton is one of the partners in the ‘Best of Both Worlds’ recruitment campaign. It is the first campaign of its kind to address the national shortage of doctors and nurses by highlighting the many benefits of relocating to Northamptonshire, including the varied career opportunities and better quality of life.

The campaign unites the University of Northampton, Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, Northampton General Hospital, Kettering General Hospital (KGH), St Andrew’s Healthcare and Northants GP.

For more information on the return to practice course at the University of Northampton visit