Career Paths for Nurses
What comes to mind when you hear the word “nurse”?
Is it a kind, benevolent Florence Nightingale figure or a stern matron a la Nurse Ratched?
Either way, you’re bound to picture a nurse in uniform, on a ward, and possibly holding a clipboard in their hands. And they’re unlikely to be standing still for long!
The truth is, a nursing qualification can open the door to a wide range of different career paths, and not all of them are bedside.
Career options for nurses are broad, and here are our thoughts on just a few. See if anything grabs your interest! Who knows where your nursing career might take you next.
Okay, let’s ease in with the most obvious and common nursing role – the staff nurse. A staff nurse plans and provides compassionate and competent care to patients, following best practice. In a role such as this, you’ll be in direct contact with a range of other nurses who have chosen to specialise. From this role, you could choose to work with a particular type of patient (e.g. geriatric, paediatric, maternity) or within a certain field of medicine such as cardiology, orthopaedics, phlebology or mental health.
Alternatively, you might like the pressure and bustle of A&E, or perhaps you’d prefer to support patients in a hospital clinic. The options are almost endless, and the reality is, there’ll always be career choices for you.
The setting can vary too. You could choose to work in a variety of different environments which could range from a traditional hospital ward to a Care Home, a school or even a prison.
If you enjoy a change of scenery each day, you could step outside the ward and into the community as a District Nurse. Your patients will be based in their own homes or in residential care facilities and could be any age – from the elderly to the terminally ill or physically disabled.
Your role will be broad, providing your patients and their families with advice and support about their healthcare needs. The end goal for District Nurses is keeping their patients out of hospital as long as possible.
Allied Health Professional (AHP)
One of the key features of being an AHP is being able to look after people in a variety of ways providing support and advice that improves patients’ health and wellbeing. From radiographers, through to podiatrists, speech therapists and emergency responders, AHPs can work across a range of settings including hospitals, clinics, schools and social care. Some roles require a degree, whereas others can be achieved through a degree apprenticeship.
General Practice Nurse
Working as part of a primary care team, General Practice Nurses assist patients will a wide range of clinical support such as treating small injuries, health screening, family planning and running vaccination programmes.
You’ll be able to build strong relationships with patients within your practice and provide health promotion advice such as smoking cessation and weight loss.
Remote Patient Care
Do you want the flexibility of working from home but still want to work in a patient-focused or clinical role? An eHealth, telehealth, agile or homeworking role could be just for you.
Nursing roles in this category encompass one-on-one patient care (video consultations, remote monitoring of patients) and administrative work such as managing patient records, scheduling and communications.
In a patient-facing telehealth role, you’ll be able to communicate with patients who are in remote locations or unable to come to a clinic for other reasons. And a role such as this can also offer flexibility if that’s important to you at particular points in your life.
There are plenty of rungs available to climb on the nursing career ladder from Team Leaders and District Managers to Matrons and Chief Nursing Officer. Some of these positions will require formal management training such as an HEI Level 6/7 or a Masters in Nursing, Healthcare of Management alongside significant hands-on experience.
In these leadership roles, you will be responsible for overseeing teams of nurses as well as setting strategic direction for a team, a division or an entire Trust.
We might be a little biased here, but nurse recruitment is an excellent career transition for nurses with several years of experience. You’ll use your knowledge of the job from day one, and as a nursing recruiter, no two days are the same. Even better, you will regularly experience the joy of making someone’s day with a job offer!
Like nursing, recruitment is very much people-oriented and requires strong skills in communication, teamwork, critical thinking and problem solving, adaptability and empathy.
Whether you’re aiming for a major career pivot, a sideways move, or working your way up into a management role, the available career pathways for nurses are plentiful and highly varied. To decide the best way forward, think about what area complements your natural strengths and what inspires your desire to learn more.
If it’s time to make a move, don’t hesitate to take the next step! Our experienced team of nurse recruitment consultants can help you find the most suitable role and offer advice on how to get the most out of your job search. Get in touch with our team to start the next part of your journey.