Nursing Career Trends – Rise in specialist care nursing
Over the past twenty years there has been a dramatic rise in the number of specialist nurse jobs in the UK. These roles have developed with highly experienced nurses specialising in a particular area of patient care, often in response to new techniques and technology in medical practice. There has been a real increase in modern nursing jobs that need advanced skills and a depth of expertise. In some areas this has enabled nurses take on responsibilities that were previously undertaken by doctors.
Careers in nursing now enable nurses to develop in-depth expertise in a specialism, making nursing a more highly-skilled profession. From 2013 all new nurses will be educated to degree level. This will create a workforce which is better-trained to take on the more specialised jobs in nursing, though at its heart the role of a nurse will remain very much the same. In the words of Saffron Brown, third year nursing student at Northumbria University, quoted in the Independent newspaper in 2010:
“Yes, we still do the holding patients’ hands bit – nursing is, after all, about caring – but we also get involved in things such as research and management and we specialise in certain areas, and the nursing degree is all about gearing people up towards that.”
So what do specialist nurses do?
Specialist nurses provide direct patient care and are dedicated to a particular area of nursing, having built up years of experience and having undergone extra training.
They can be split into four main categories:
- Nurse practitioners, who commonly work in GP surgeries or hospitals and provide care at an advanced practice level.
- Specialist community nurses, including district nurses, school nurses and occupational health nurses.
- Clinical nurse specialists, who work in hospitals and provide clinical expertise and training for staff and ward nurses in their department, such as in cancer treatment or pain management.
- Nurse consultants, whose role is similar to that of clinical nurse specialists, but they operate at a higher level, often with active research activities.
What does the future hold for specialist nursing?
The role of the specialist nurse has become established in modern nursing as important in ensuring that patients get the best care possible. Recent developments in the training of nurses look set to support the continuation of this for a new generation of nurses. Studies by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) have demonstrated that specialist nurses are both cost and clinically effective as a substitute for other healthcare professionals, including doctors for certain tasks.
In a time when the government is looking to review spending and NHS budgets are under scrutiny, the RCN has identified three key recommendations to ensure that specialist nurses continue to be able to deliver high-quality care to meet patient needs:
- Every patient with a chronic or long-term condition should have the right to specialist nursing care.
- Specialist nurse posts should be supported through robust long term funding.
- Specialist nurses need time to fulfil the key aspects of their role, including providing clinical expertise, leadership, and education and training.
This article was created on behalf of Nursing Times Jobs, which is part of Emap Publications. Nursing Times Jobs is a jobs board which focusses on helping to develop careers in nursing for nurses at all stages of their career. Emap is the magazine publication arm of the Top Right Group and specialise in Business to Business magazines.