Return to practice (Nursing) frequently asked questions

Do you need a degree to undertake the module?

No, however as nursing is now only studied at degree level, the NMC require the Return to Practice module to be undertaken at level 6 (degree level). The Return to Practice module is worth 20 credits. You'll be given support in identifying your study skills needs when you start the module. As a part of the module materials and study skills packages are delivered through online learning resources, some familiarity with using a computer is useful.

Who will provide my wage or cover my expenses?

Normally there are no allocated wages for nurses returning to practice, however a bursary is currently available to cover study and other associated expenses. Please see the Health Education South West website for more details.

How many hours/week would I have to work during my placements?

The period of time for supervised clinical practice will be discussed and agreed at interview as this can depend upon the number of years that the returnee has been out of clinical practice, what employment history the returnee has, and if you have been working in an assistant or support role within the health care environment before application. A suggested guide for negotiating hours and days that are needed to be assessed as competent and confident to return to practice has been informed by the guidance published by the Department of Health (DH, 2011). The time span of the placement needs to correlate with the module for example June to December.

Years out of practice Guidance for hours for nurses Guidance for hours for health visitors  Guidance for hours for midwives
0-10 100 - 150 Minimum practice hours required is 150 (maximum 250) 450
10-15 250 Minimum practice hours required is 300 (maximum 400)   450
>15 450 Minimum practice hours required is 450 (maximum 550)  450 

Do I have to register with the NMC before commencing on the module?

No, but you'll need to provide evidence that you have been on the NMC register and that your registration has lapsed. The quickest way to obtain this information is to register with the NMC Online service and print a copy of your lapsed registration status to bring to your interview. 

Can I undertake the programme as an EN?

Yes, you can enrol on the module if you previously had a second level registration. We are able to accept second level applicants.

I currently work as a health care assistant and my employer is interested in supporting my returning to practice - is this possible?

All placement areas need to have an up to date educational audit and to ensure that the learning outcomes can be met and you will also need to access a sign off mentor. The University will be able to advise further if these are not in place.

If your organisation meets the above criteria, they should contact Health Education England to ensure they are allocated a commissioned place.

What is a Sign off Mentor?

In August 2006 the NMC introduced 'Standards to Support Learning and Assessment in Practice'. Within these standards the new role of Sign off Mentor was identified.

The NMC states that the 'Sign off Mentor' is the person who makes the judgements about whether a student has achieved the required standards of proficiency for safe and effective practice for their entrance to the register.

The mentor working with the Return to Practice student in their placement area is responsible for saying that the student is fit to go on the register. In addition, a returnee should work with a mentor for 40 per cent of their placement time.

What happens at the interview events?

The interview is an opportunity to meet with staff from the employing organisation and the University.

The interviews will include the following: 

1. An interview with a panel including a member of the Trust staff and also a member of the Plymouth University team to explore:

  • your past experience as a nurse 
  • why you left nursing and why you want to register as a nurse now?
  • your current role and future placement?

2. Maths test.

3. English test.

Is there a maths test?

Yes, in addition to the maths test that will need to be undertaken on the day of the interview, there is also a maths calculation test that must be passed as a part of the module.

My NMC statement of entry is in my maiden name does this matter?

You'll need to ensure that the names on your application form and on your NMC statement of entry are the same. As differences such as surnames recorded differently on your application form can delay the processing of your re-registration after successful completion of the module as we use this information to process registration applications with the NMC.

For further information regarding the module, please contact the Professional Development Unit: pdu@plymouth.ac.uk