Returning to nursing

Getting back to the job that you love may be easier than you think. The support you receive means you can return to nursing with confidence. 

Coming back

If you are no longer a registered nurse, there are a couple of ways you can return:

  • you could do a return to practice course
  • you could do a Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) Test of Competence (ToC)


Return to practice course 

Depending on how long you have been out of practice, the course can take between three and 12 months to complete.

By the end, you'll have the skills and knowledge to be able to return with confidence. 

Financial support

NHS Health Education England (HEE) will pay for your course and placement fees. You'll also be given £500 for childcare, travel and book costs.

If you decide to do the NMC Test of Competence, HEE will also reimburse any associated costs.  

"My biggest concern was my first day back on the ward. But I felt incredibly supported."

Read Willow's story on her journey back to nursing

What do I do next?

Use our course finder to look for return to nursing programmes and trusts that provide placements in your area. You can also use our course finder to look for return to practice - general practice nursing programmes.

Some NHS employers recruit nurses directly to return to practice courses. Just visit NHS Jobs and search 'return to practice' for live vacancies. 

Universities in Wales also run RTP nursing programmes. Visit the NHS Wales Shared Services Partnership website.

NMC test of competence

You may find that the test of competence is a more appropriate route back into practice.

It’s made up of two parts:


You can apply through the NMC website. On the NMC website there are also lots of preparation materials and essential reading to help you prepare for the test.

Financial support

There is a cost for taking the test and the NHS will pay this but you may have to pay up front. You can then claim reimbursement once you have registered with the NMC and are in employment.  

What next?

If you think this could be the route for you, you can email us and we'll put you in touch with someone in your local area who can offer tailored advice.

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