Career advice

My second-chance career: how one nurse conquered stigma to return to practice

History of mental ill health can end careers – but Hannah MacDonald had other ideas

How to restart your career after long illness – Hannah MacDonald explains how she reclaimed her profession, uses lived experience to enhance care and can offer hope to others forced to take time out from nursing

After spending several years on and off as a mental health service user, returning to a career in nursing felt unattainable for Hannah MacDonald.

But in March 2020, at the start of the pandemic, she started nursing again, at a hospice in Harrow, London, working two 12-hour shifts each week. ‘Palliative care was something I wanted to go into originally. Coming back, I was able to return to the part of nursing I’d always been drawn towards,’ says Ms MacDonald, who qualified in 2006.

‘At that time, hospices didn’t


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