A Guide to Return to Practice

Your top questions answered
Nursing Clinical Simulation Centre

Here are the most frequently asked questions about the Return to Practice course (RTP). If you have any other questions, please attend the next Open Evening when you will have an opportunity to meet the course leader or contact us.

What are the entry requirements for the Return to Practice course?

You will need to provide evidence of lapsed registration of between 3-15 years. This is in the form of an
NMC Statement of Entry which you can get from the NMC. You will need to quote your NMC PIN and the name you were originally registered under.

Are there course fees?

There are no course fees. A bursary of £1,000 will be available to each nursing and SCPHN student, with £1,500 available for midwives. This amount should be paid to the student in three equal instalments by the education provider. Payments are usually made at the beginning, the middle and following completion of the course. You will also need to pay for a DBS and the DBS Update Service if you do not hold one currently. This is approximately £44, and you have 19 days from the certificate issue date to register with the update service. If you already hold a DBS through employment, you can provide us with a copy, providing you are signed up to the Update Service, otherwise you will need to undertake a new one for USW. We will contact you with further information about the DBS once you accept your offer.

Assistance with childcare costs
Returners can apply for means-tested assistance with childcare costs incurred whilst attending clinical placements and refresher training. Payments will be managed by the NHS Wales Student Awards Services, NWSSP. The childcare allowance is means-tested and is based on 85% of the actual registered or approved childcare costs up to a maximum amount. Payments will only be made on production of relevant receipts from registered childcare services. 

Application for assistance with childcare costs, for returners who have secured NHS Wales funding, should be made directly by emailing the following details to nwssp.wedsedcommissioning@wales.nhs.uk.

  • Institution studying at
  • Start date of course
  • Home address
  • Contact telephone number

The student’s name will be passed to Student Awards Services, NWSSP who will manage the process and liaise directly with the returner. Returners will be required to apply for childcare costs before the commencement of their course as childcare allowance cannot be claimed in arrears. If you have any queries or need further explanation then please contact your Programme Lead, local HR Representative or email NWSSP.WEDSEdCommissioning@wales.nhs.uk.

How many intakes are there? 

We have two intakes a year - March and September. 

How many students are on the course?

The Workforce, Education and Development Services (WEDS) confirm student numbers each year, but it is usually between 14-20 per intake.

How do I apply?

You apply as a direct applicant via the University website. You will need to write a 400-500 word personal statement which outlines why you want to return to practice, and your plans for when you complete the course. You will also need to provide a reference – this can be an employer or character reference; evidence of current DBS via update service and a successful occupational health screen.

Will I get a degree?

No, the RTP is a degree-level module, not a degree. 
Students can gain a non-honours BSc Professional Practice (Health Care Studies) degree, by completing the research module and enrolling on the award. They need a further 60 credits (including a practice project) to gain the honours degree. 

Is there an interview?

Yes, if your application meets the entry criteria, you will be called to a formal interview.
Alex Holmes, the course leader, and a practice facilitator or senior nurse will interview you. The interview will last around twenty minutes and you will have the opportunity to ask questions.

How can I prepare for the interview?

  • Familiarise yourself with current campaigns and up-to-date guidance such as 1000 Lives Campaign and NICE guidance
  • Consider current health issues for debate – e.g. antibiotic resistance, prudent healthcare 
  • Prepare for common questions such as 'Why has your registration lapsed?’; ‘How do you think nursing may have changed?’; ‘What do you plan to do after the course?’

Do students continue with jobs whilst undertaking the course?

Yes – the clinical hours equate to approximately 10 hours per week, following completion of the theory sessions. Times and shift patterns can be agreed with mentor in clinical practice, although you are required to get a full 24-hour experience of the clinical placement.

How many study days are there? 

There are 12 theory days on campus, plus three mandatory training days on campus and one Local Health Board induction training day. 

The three mandatory training days cover CPR, manual handling and breakaway training (violence and aggression). If you already have an All Wales Manual Handling Passport, please bring in your file as you may be exempt from some of this training.

When are the theory days and what will I study?

Theory days are every Thursday between 10am – 3pm on the
Glyntaff Campus. The theory days are designed to bring you up to date with what’s happening in the nursing profession. You will cover key areas such as NMC and Fitness to Practice; Introduction to Law and Record Keeping; Introduction to Pharmacology and Nurse Prescribing; Introduction to Public Health; Introduction to Quality Assurance; Clinical Governance Issues; Leadership and Change Management; Acute Illness; Chronic Illness; Infection Prevention and Control.

What are the requirements of the course?

You need to complete a 4000 word assignment, a short presentation, an online medicines management test, plus complete Clinical Learning Outcomes and a minimum of 200 clinical hours.

The 4000 word assignment is a reflection on how you achieve five field-specific competencies. 

The 15-minute presentation must be on a nursing related topic and presented to the student group and two lecturers. Topics this term included:

  • The role of the rapid response team 
  • Female catheterisation
  • Pain management 

For the online medicines management test, you’ll be given a training session on Authentic World – Safe Medicate. Once you know how to use it, we recommend you practice every week. 

How difficult is the theoretical side of the course?

The course is delivered at Level 6, which is equivalent to the third year of an undergraduate degree. For those who are returning to study after a long break or are nervous about the academic demands of the course, there is plenty of support. This includes:

How many clinical hours do I need to complete? 

A minimum of 200 hours for Adult, Mental Health, Learning Disability, SCHVN, and Child. If you are studying the dual qualification – for example Adult and Child – you will need a minimum of 200 hours and will be required to achieve clinical learning outcomes in both fields of practice. Midwifery requires discussion with midwifery leads, which you can do at an Open Evening.

If I am currently working in a clinical area, can I undertake the Clinical Learning Outcomes in this area, rather than a new clinical placement?
It depends on the clinical area. The clinical area needs to be suitable and have opportunities to achieve all of the Clinical Learning Outcomes. You can discuss this with us at the Open Evening.

Who organises the clinical placement and where will it be?
Clinical placements are organised by the University and could include Aneurin Bevan University Health Board, Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health BoardCwm Taf University Health Board, Hwyel Dda Local Health Board and Powys Teaching Health Board. 

We try and place you as close to home as possible, and in the area you want to work. However, please be aware this may not always be possible. On placement you will be working as a student nurse, and will wear the All Wales uniform (purple scrubs). You will work with your mentor to achieve the required Clinical Learning Outcomes. You are expected you to have a 24 hour experience of the clinical environment, so it is an expectation that you will engage with the different shift patterns.

Who will support me in clinical practice, and in my academic work?
On clinical placement, you will be allocated a sign off mentor (a registered nurse who is on the same part of the register). Your personal tutor will act as an academic support and provide pastoral care.

When will I be back on the NMC register?

For the March intake, the earliest date will be December/January. For September intake, the earliest date will be July/August.

Is there a certain amount of work experience you expect from an applicant, particularly if they are not working in a care field at the moment?

This needs to be assessed on an individual basis as it depends on your current role and previous experience. You can discuss this with us at an Open Evening.

Why should I study the Return to Practice course at USW?

  • Two intakes a year
  • Placements over a wide geographical area 
  • Very strong student support
  • Employability - upon successful completion of the course, the majority of our students manage to achieve a Band 5 role in their chosen area
  • Excellent success rate

More information
You can speak to Alex Holmes, the course leader, at the next Open Evening or contact her at alex.holmes@southwales.ac.uk - 01443 483886.