I was the youngest to graduate in my class (20) and I worked as an RN in several areas before I started homeschooling my girls 2 years ago. I got about 12 years tucked under my belt before I stopped working. Reading your post is kinda of like looking at myself another 18 years down the road. It scares me to death to think of all the changes that will have taken place by that time. I have often wondered what I’m going to do once my girls have graduated.
But the main thing I wanted to say is that while I was working those 12 years, I met several wonderful nurses who had come back after a lengthy time away. (I was in charge of re-training a few.) They all did great! In my experience, limited as it may be, the heart of a nurse never dies. Those who were in it because they loved their job, and those who truly understood what nursing was all about, well… they had no trouble slipping back into their work shoes. All you need to do is find a nurse manager who realizes this same thing.
If I may offer a bit of advice? I worked as a hospice nurse for 2 1/2 years, and although it is very taxing on your heart at times, it would be a good area to look into for coming back. You could dust off your bedside manner, assessment skills, and gradually work your way into how medicine has changed without the hectic push and pull of a 12 hour shift on a floor on some busy hospital unit. The best of luck to you, and I so appreciate your courage in returning to the field. (and hats off for homeschooling!!)