Return to nursing and midwifery

Returning to nursing or midwifery may be a daunting prospect for some. However, WA Health has streamlined the process by centrally coordinating and managing refresher pathway options for nurses and midwives.

You can get back into the nursing and midwifery workforce if you are still registered, but have not worked for a while, by undertaking a refresher pathway placement.

WA Health’s Refresher Pathways are now linked to employment and applicants will have the flexibility to choose full-time or part-time options.

If you are no longer registered, you will need to complete a re-entry to practice program.

Refresher pathway placement

Refresher program opportunities are on hold for 2020.

Given the dynamic situation of the COVID-19 pandemic, the refresher pathway program in 2020 will be deferred until the situation is resolved.

What is a refresher pathway

WA Health offers refresher pathways to enrolled nurses, registered nurses and midwives who have been out of the acute clinical setting for a while.

The pathways are linked to employment and allow more flexible options for refresher nurses or midwives to:

  • undertake online learning modules
  • choose full-time or part-time fixed term contracts and be paid to undertake the assessment of clinical competence.

Why do a refresher pathway?

The pathways provide an opportunity to brush up on your skills in a supportive environment, allowing you a smooth transition back into the acute hospital setting with confidence and competence.

Refresher pathways are ideal for WA nurses or midwives who:

  • have been working outside the acute clinical area and wish to return to an acute clinical setting
  • have not worked for a few years (less than 5 years)
  • identify they need to increase their skills and knowledge in an acute care setting.

Who is eligible?

To undertake a WA Health RN, EN or midwifery refresher pathway placement, applicants must:

  • be currently registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA) (external site)
  • have clinical nursing experience since registering with NMBA
  • be looking to gain employment in the acute care sector
  • be an Australian citizen or have permanent residency status at the time of application
  • have been out of the workforce for 5 years or less or have been working in a non-acute nursing environment for up to 10 years
    • midwife applicants, who are not currently employed as a midwife may be eligible to undertake a WA Health refresher program, on the condition that they have worked as a midwife in the preceding 5 years, but not necessarily in a tertiary setting
    • registered nurse and enrolled nurse applicants who have not practiced or employed in a nursing-related position within the preceding 5 years, are eligible to undertake a WA Health Refresher Program
  • applicants, who have worked in a non-acute clinical setting for a period greater than 15 years are not eligible to undertake a WA Health Refresher Program
  • suitability for entry into all nursing or midwifery refresher programs will be assessed on individual merit by the WA Health services, in conjunction with the Program Coordinator.


Successful refresher pathway applicants will be offered 3 month fixed term employment contracts

Can I do the refresher pathway part-time?

Yes, refresher pathway applicants, in negotiation with the potential employer, will be given the flexibility to choose a full-time or part-time fixed-term contract.


There is no cost for successful applicants. The Chief Nursing and Midwifery Office has fully funded the fees for the refresher pathway online learning modules.

Applicants may be liable to repay course fees if they do the online learning modules but do not commence employment under the fixed term contract

Do I get paid

Yes, applicants will be offered a fixed term employment contract. Refresher pathway nurses or midwives will undertake assessment of clinical competencies during this time.

How to apply

Applications are centrally coordinated by the Chief Nursing and Midwifery Office via the online recruitment system Refresher Pathway Connect. This allows applicants to apply for a refresher pathway opportunity in all participating WA Health sites using 1 application.

Refresher program opportunities are on hold for 2020.

Given the dynamic situation of the COVID-19 pandemic, the refresher pathway program in 2020 will be deferred until the situation is resolved

What is the process?

Applications are submitted online via a web-based recruitment system called Refresher Pathway Connect.

Applicants will be asked to:

  • complete their details
  • answer the selection criteria, using examples from practical experience to demonstrate knowledge
  • attach1 a covering letter, briefly stating personal aims and goals for undertaking the program
  • attach1 a Curriculum Vitae (CV) / resume, detailing past and current nursing or midwifery experience; including areas worked, clinical caseload and dates
  • attach1 evidence of Australian citizenship or permanent residency status (e.g. copy of passport, birth certificate, citizenship documents or visa)
  • attach1 evidence of current registration with the Nursing and Midwifery Board Australia.

1 Attachments can only be uploaded in PDF, JPEG or Word formats and must be no larger than 2Mb each in size.

The hospitals and health services participating in Refresher Pathway Connect will review applications after the closing date and will then determine who they will short-list, interview and select as suitable.

Successful applicants will be offered a position and then will negotiate the start date with the hospital or health service.

How does the program work?

In partnership with the Australian College of Nursing (external site), (for RNs and ENs) and King Edward Memorial Hospital (for midwives) the program comprises of online theoretical modules that can take up to 80 hours to complete. We suggest that you allow 4 weeks to do these in. The online theoretical aspect is undertaken in the participant’s own time. There is no financial remuneration for the theoretical component

Once you have completed these modules you can begin a 3 month fixed term contract. During this time you will be assessed for clinical competence within the workplace.

As a WA health employee you will be given a health service orientation, some supernumerary time and a dedicated preceptor to support you with your clinical experience.

On completion of the fixed-term contract, the participant will then be deemed competent or not yet competent. Those deemed competent will receive a Certificate of Attainment. Typically, after an initial settling in period, the Refresher Pathway Connect participant will be expected to manage a patient load and be responsible for planning and implementing patient-centred care, with the support of their preceptor or nurse/midwife educator. The participant is expected to function within the domains outlined in their specific NMBA Competency Standards for the Midwife (2006), and the Registered Nurse & Enrolled Nurse Standards for Practice (2016).

I need to get registered again as a nurse or midwife

Re-entry to nursing and midwifery programs (formally known as re-registration programs) are for those whose registration with the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA) has lapsed.

Nurses and midwives who wish to regain their registration can only undertake re-entry programs that have been approved by the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia.

Please refer to the 're-entry' section on the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (external site) to view the list of approved programs.

WA Health offers financial assistance to nurses and midwives undertaking renewal of registration courses.

Re-entry to nursing practice and bridging programs

What are these programs?

Re-entry to practice programs

Re-entry to practice programs are for previously Australian trained or qualified (re-entrant) nurses and midwives who are currently not registered, and wish to gain restoration of their registered with the Nurses and Midwives Board of Australia (NMBA).

Bridging programs

Registration Bridging Programs are for overseas trained or qualified nurses and midwives who are seeking to gain initial registration with the NMBA.

Does WA Health offer these programs?

Effective as at January 2011, WA Health no longer offers re-entry to practice or bridging programs for enrolled nurses, registered nurses or midwives.

Why not?

Under the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme, all courses that lead to registration with the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia must be provided by a Recognised Training Organisations (RTOs). The Department of Health is not a RTO and does not qualify under the National Accreditation Criteria.

Where can I do these programs?

Similar courses, also known as conversion programs, are offered by external providers. To locate accredited courses, refer to the NMBA website (external site) for list of programs for RN and EN.

Scholarship opportunities

The Chief Nursing and Midwifery Office (CNMO) offers scholarships for nurses and midwives undertaking courses that lead to restoration of registration with the NMBA and are delivered by a recognised and accredited Western Australian education institution.

Scholarships are available for Australian Citizens or permanent residents only. Conditions will apply.

For more information, please visit the CNMO website for scholarship information.

Produced by

Chief Nursing and Midwifery Office