Building a Career in Nursing
Careers in nursing now begin with a degree. Diploma study programmes are being phased out, and from 2013 all nurses will be required to undertake a three year course. Nursing degrees are sometimes known as ‘pre-registration’ courses as once the course is complete, nurse graduates can register with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC). This is mandatory before beginning practice as a nurse.
What do you learn on a nursing degree course?
The course is available in all the four main branches of nursing:
- Mental health
- Learning disabilities.
It is usually necessary to decide which of the four branches you wish to study before beginning the course. However the degree for all four branches begins with a common foundation programme which provides a general introduction to nursing, before specialist study is undertaken in your chosen area. The course is generally completed in three years, though some universities offer part-time courses for staff who work in the NHS, such as those working as healthcare assistants. For some applicants, previous learning may be taken into account – up to a third of a three-year programme can be accredited this way, making the course only two years.
Jobs in nursing and career development
Once qualified, the NHS has a Career Framework for nursing to map and support career development. Once you’re registered as a nurse, you’re at Level 5 on a scale that goes from Level 2 – Level 9. The career ladder for nurses is as follows, with a broad range of available specialities in different areas of the profession:
- Level 5 – Practitioner
- Level 6 – Senior practitioner
- Level 7 – Advanced practitioner
- Level 8 – Consultant practitioner
- Level 9 – Senior Leader
Career building approaches for nurses
Regular evaluation of your own progress is a great way to keep your approach to your career fresh, and focus your ideas for future career goals. There is such a broad diversity of different jobs in nursing, from community nursing jobs to acute care jobs that it is likely you will become exposed to new options as you progress through your career. Career development is an on-going process whereby you can take charge of your personal plan, with a high chance of finding new interests along the way.
Plan your progress
Keep a record of your progress to date – this will help you track your development against what you envisaged when you began your nursing job. A written record will allow you to assess your career against your original aims and will help you to spot turning points in your career. In future this record may be useful for looking at your career progress to date, and may help you put yourself back in touch with your original inspiration when you began your nursing job. In your approach to career planning it is vital that you are prepared to alter your expectations and be flexible to achieve your aims.
The following list is a good starting point for your written record:
- Key events and the dates of major achievements
- Extra responsibilities you have taken on
- Training courses, events, workshops attended
- Specific and more general skills you hold and interests for future exploration
This article was written on behalf of Nursing Times Jobs, a branch of EMAP Publications, who specialise in careers in nursing. Nursing Times Jobs is a UK based job board which has been in operation since 2008. It is responsible for helping to fill nursing vacancies at a number of health care providers.