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For love or money: registered nurses who return to hospital practice


  • Leslie N. Kent MS, RN-BC

    Professor II, Doctoral student, Corresponding author
    1. Palm Beach State College, Lake Worth, FL, USA
    2. Barry University, Miami Shores, FL, USA
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This commentary explores the value that returning nurses bring to the hospital setting.


Nurses who have left hospital practice, usually due to family obligations, often return once the children are older. They return because they love nursing or they need to make money. They are at a point in their lives where they want to make a difference and miss the nurse–patient relationship. During recessions, nurses return to hospital practice because recessions tend to affect male dominated occupations.


Research and policy literature on the returning and/or older nurse was reviewed with a focus on the benefits and challenges of having returning nurses in hospital practice.

Key issues

Returning nurses serve as role models to younger nurses. They also bring experiential knowledge to patient situations.


There is limited research on this group of nurses. Yet they are ready for reentry in short order during nursing shortages. When they return, they add value to the hospital unit.

Implications for nursing management

Returning nurses want shorter workdays, alternative roles, and less physically taxing work. This can be achieved by offering flexible scheduling and work hours, creating niche roles and providing a more worker friendly physical environment.