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Become a Nurse: Your Pathways and Options

Nursing is a diverse and rewarding vocation, with a great range of progression pathways and options on offer. If you have studied nursing as a degree or further education qualification then you will possess strong academic knowledge coupled with personal skills and experience gained in placements, which will give you a head start with employers.

What type of jobs can I work in?

There are a range of specialist nursing jobs, alongside more generalist roles. Typical destinations for those entering the fieldnurses include health visitors, adult nursing, midwifery, paramedics, paediatrics, learning disability nursing and mental health nursing.

Associated fields include social and police work, further education, health service training and management and training fields, all of which can follow on from a nursing qualification.

Practical experience

It is highly beneficial to gain nursing work experience, ideally in a hands on clinical environment, especially if you plan to find direct employment within the healthcare sector. This will crystallise your academic knowledge, allow you to develop hands on practical and interpersonal skills, and also allow you to build your contacts and network. This experience can be gained in a variety of ways, via internships, volunteering, work experience, student projects and part-time opportunities. All will afford opportunities to develop the nursing and associated skills that employers seek.

Good examples of hands on work experience and trainee nursing jobs would be as a healthcare assistant, nursing student, hospital volunteer, care assistant or care worker. It is also beneficial to speak to other working nurses about their roles and spend time visiting hospital and other nursing delivery locations. Consider too whether you want to work in a private nursing role or an NHS role.

Where to look

online job searchThere are a wide range of targets to approach for your work experience. The NHS is the obvious choice, along with private hospitals and clinics. Look too at private healthcare organisations that deliver NHS services under contract, as well as voluntary bodies and organisations. Local authorities are a good target for work in residential, care and nursing homes, as are higher education providers and schools if you are interested in teaching roles.

The skills you need to develop

Your academic background, such as a nursing degree, will give you the technical, academic and professional skills and knowledge you need, along with the experience of working within a multi-skilled and disciplinary nursing delivery team, and advising or supporting patients. You will also develop the necessary skills for assessing, monitoring, analysing and evaluating care delivery. Employers will also seek out a range of supporting and complementary skills such as leadership, flexibility, communication, empathy, time management and organisation, adaptability, tenacity, decision making and problem solving. The ability to conduct high quality research is also valuable.

Further study

There are a range of further and higher education opportunities available in the field, including Masters degrees in fields graduatessuch as medical decision making and advanced clinical practice. You can also undertake specialist training in fields such as advanced nursing practitioners.

Most employers offer a range of these courses through post-registration training and education, which is part of your PREP obligations. These may be delivered via study days. This further training is essential as the healthcare delivery field is constantly evolving, and practitioners need to be up to speed with latest technology deployments, along with key issues and changing population needs.

In terms of ultimate post-study destination, around 90% of graduates enter into paid work within six months of graduation, and 5% remain in higher or further study.


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