Would you like to return to nursing?

It is easier than you think…

Many nurses have allowed their nursing registration to lapse, often for very good reasons such as bringing up a family or following a completely different path. During this time, they are likely to have acquired many skills which are really useful for working in General Practice or the community. General Practice can be a really good place to regain skills and learn new more primary care related skills as well as working within a small team.

Because there is a shortage of nurses Cambridge &Peterborough Training hub are offering support to help nurses to return to the nursing register by offering placements in General Practice in the area. The length of your placement will depend on how long you have been out of practice and it is possible to work as a Healthcare assistant while gaining some additional skills alongside the Return to Nursing course. Have a look at the short “Come back to Nursing” films with some examples of people who have returned to nursing.

There are two local universities where you can access Return to Nursing courses, Anglia Ruskin and Bedfordshire University. Bedfordshire are running a specific General Practice Nursing course.

Both universities also run Foundation or Fundamentals in GP Nursing courses to equip you with many of the core skills needed

Requirement to returning to Nursing Practice

Perceptions of GP nurses are often very outdated. GP Nurses now do a lot more than dressings and injections as a much wider range of healthcare is now being delivered out of hospital. There are many more opportunities to progress your career and still remain patient focussed. Nurses are able to become experts in disease management such as Asthma, Hypertension, Diabetes, Travel health or Wound care. GP Nurses also play a major role in health prevention by carrying out immunisations, cervical and health screening. They also promote healthier lifestyles by offering advice on smoking alcohol and weight. Nurses can also train to become prescribing nurses or Advanced Nurse Practitioners who are able to work more autonomously.

  • You need to have been a nurse registered by the NMC
  • You need to be willing to update your knowledge.
  • You need to have some basic IT skills.
  • You need to have an interest in working in General Practice.
  • You need to have an interest in Health Prevention.
  • You do not need to have worked in General Practice.
  • Having worked in the community would be useful.
  • Experience in most hospital specialities are useful. For example, Cardiology, Dermatology, gynaecology, A&E, Respiratory, Diabetes or Vascular.

Routes to RTP

For most people the difficult part is knowing where to find a practice willing to take you for a  practice placement.

The Training hub can help you find a GP surgery willing to provide you with a placement in a surgery somewhere near to where you live.

Having identified a practice the Training hub nurse facilitators can help guide you to a Return to Nursing course which meets you needs.

You would need to apply to register on a RTP course. (see university links below)

The practice will provide you with a mentor to facilitate all the appropriate skills training you need to regain your registration.


The length of your placement depends on how many years you have been out of Nursing.

5-7 years, 150 Hours (6.25 hrs / week over 6/12)

8-10 years, 200 Hours (8.3 hrs)

10-15 years, 275 Hours  (11.4 hrs per week)

15 years and over, 375 Hours 16.6 hrs per week over 6 month)


You will have to attend 7 study days at university over 6 months and carry out some online modules and write two essays.

You would have support from a university tutor and work placement mentor.

There is a small bursary to cover your expenses during training (£500)

Having completed all your assignments and fulfilled your placement hours you will be able to apply to be put back on the NMC Register and work as a qualified nurse.

For more information contact Jenny Aston Jennifer.aston@nhs.net

About the role

Returning to practice can be both exciting and daunting, so it is really useful to find about a bit about what GP Nurses do and how they can grow in their careers. One aspect of the role which many nurses find challenging is working in isolation so it is important link in with  other nurses in your practice and local area. The Training hub have local GPN Networks.

The six-month RTP course is a mandatory requirement if nurses want to regain registered nurse status and work as a qualified nurse.

As the RTP work placement is unpaid it may be useful to work part times as a paid Health Care Assistant during this period. It is a good way to find your feet, gain some clinical skills and build confidence. It is also an opportunity to look out for work opportunities in that or another practice in your area. There are various ways to gain some of the core GP Nursing skills, all which will help with your future employability. Some of the training is not limited to registered nurses. Eg Phlebotomy, Immunisations, ear care and Wound care. The Training Hub can help you to find such courses.

Health Education England have produced a really useful Career Framework to  give you an  idea of the career potential.  https://www.hee.nhs.uk/sites/default/files/documents/Interactive%20version%20of%20the%20framework_1.pdf

The Queens Nursing Institute have produced a really useful free online introduction to GP  Nursing which you can use to give you some background to GP Nursing.


Useful  resources

NHS England GPN10 point plan sets out how to address the current recruitment and retention issues in GP Nursing which includes RTP. https://www.england.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/general-practice-nursing-ten-point-plan-v17.pdf

Health Education England GPN Plan sets out some of the current challenges for GPNs.   https://hee.nhs.uk/sites/default/files/documents/The%20general%20practice%20nursing%20workforce%20development%20plan.pdf

Useful GPN Journals

Practice Nurse http://www.practicenurse.co.uk

Independent Nurse Journal http://www.independentnurse.co.uk

Journal for GPN   https://www.journalofpracticenursing.co.uk

Nursing in Practice Journal https://www.nursinginpractice.com