Return to midwifery programme
For registered midwives who have had a period of leave from midwifery practise, these frequently asked questions may be useful if you are considering returning to practise (RtP) as a midwife in the UK.
Do I need a RtP course?
If you were a registered midwife but have had a break and are thinking about returning to practise, you may need to undertake a period of updating of your skills and knowledge through a RtP course before you can apply to rejoin the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) professional register.
- In order to rejoin the NMC register, you must have completed 450 hours of registered practice (with a notification of intention to practice) and 35 hours of learning activity in the last three years within the UK. If you cannot meet that requirement, but can meet 750 hours of practice in the last five years and 35 hours of learning activity in the last three years, you may be eligible to apply to be readmitted to the professional register and should contact the NMC directly for an application pack. See: nmc-uk.org
- Practice can include supervisory, teaching, research and managerial roles, as well as providing direct patient care. However, practice hours completed while you were lapsed or not registered, for example if you were working as a healthcare assistant, cannot be counted towards the practice requirement.
Practice could have changed considerably from when you last practised. In recent years we have seen an increase in births in England, and complexities in health needs associated with women have increased the care needs they may experience as a consequence. Recent statistics are now demonstrating a fall in the numbers of births to women throughout all regions in England, however, NHS England remains short of around 3200 midwives.
How long is a RtP course? How do I find a course?
Depending on how long you have been away from practice will determine how long your update may need to be in order to return to the NMC register. If you do need to do a course, it must be NMC approved. Details of all approved RtP courses can be found on the NMC website here. You may find that while the NMC database shows that a university has a course in approval, they are not running one. You may have to make enquiries to more than one university to secure your academic placement.
I trained in Europe, have NMC registration, but am unable to secure employment as a midwife. What can I do?
Currently, midwives who have trained and qualified as a midwife in either the European Union or European Economic Area have a right to have their qualification recognised in the UK and registration with the NMC. If you have NMC registration as a result of a midwifery qualification through this route, but are having difficulty in successfully gaining employment as a midwife, then you may find undertaking a RtP course will help you gain more insight into models of midwifery practice in the UK.
I trained in Europe but the NMC say I must complete some additional practice to register. What can I do?
The NMC may apply some conditions for registration that must be completed before registration can be given. These often include midwifery specific competencies. These must normally be completed within two years of the NMC decision. A RtP course can be one route to achieving these in addition to helping you understand the context of midwifery practice in the UK. You will need to include a copy of your NMC letter to the university you are applying to, so that they can help you meet any conditions.
How do I find a clinical practice placement?
You will need to find and secure a RtP vacancy. You may see these advertised on the NHS jobs website, advertised locally or you may need to contact heads of midwifery directly.
The universities that you contact for information regarding their RtP course may be able to help secure a clinical practice placement, although this is becoming more difficult, so you may need to spend considerable time securing this and the mentor support for your course. This may be achievable if your course placement does not coincide with commencement of pre-registration midwifery education programmes. These are often between September and October each year.
Is there any financial support to do the course?
Your local education training board (LETB) may have monies to fund tuition fees and pay bursaries to potential employers. For information on how to contact your local LETB, see the Health Education England website.
You may have to consider self funding. Each university cost their own course, so fees do vary between universities.
What is the RCM RtP midwifery course?
A free standing course that is approved through the NMC and London South Bank University. It is not attached to service providers, so it is open to anyone throughout the UK. While the five face-to-face study days are delivered in London, this does allow you to find and secure a clinical practice placement and support local to you. Further course dates will be released in due time.
Additional useful information
NMC. (2011) The Prep handbook
NMC. (2012) Midwives Rules and Standards
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