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Return to practice midwifery courses

Return to practice midwifery courses

Return to practice midwifery courses are for registered midwives who have had a period of leave from midwifery practice.

The following frequently asked questions may be useful if you are considering returning to practice (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 practice, 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 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. The number of babies born each year has been much higher in recent years than at the turn of the century, and complexity has risen too. Overall, the RCM’s latest estimate (for 2016) is that the NHS in England is short of the equivalent of around 3,500 full-time 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.


Additional useful information


NMC website

NMC. (2016) Standards relating to Return to Practice

NMC. (2015) The Code: Professional standards of practice and behaviour for nurses and midwives

NMC. (2009) Standards for pre registration midwifery education

NMC. (2016) How to Revalidate with the NMC

NMC. (2011) Registering as a nurse or midwife in the UK and Joining the register if you trained in the EU or EEA