Nursing roles cover the full spectrum of the health care system, with nurses specialising in different areas of medicine. This includes intensive care and accident and emergency to community nursing and mental health. They work closely with doctors, healthcare assistants (HCA’s) and other medical professionals to provide effective care to a patient.
In order to work as a nurse, you will need to be complete a degree in nursing, although some areas of nursing do require a specialised degree, for example, Mental Health nursing. You would also need to be a registered nurse to practise within the UK, these registrations usually need revalidating every three years and need to meet certain conditions.
As well as professional qualifications, nurses need to possess certain personal characteristics. These usually include compassion, commitment, and confidence. Nurses need to have the ability to relate to their patients and build a good relationship based on trust.
So, what areas of nursing could you pursue your career in?
A graduate career in adult nursing involves providing care to patients suffering from a variety of health conditions, ranging from minor injuries to acute and long-term illnesses. Sometimes, dependent on experience, it may include the management of people too.
The day to day role of an adult nurse is mainly made up of supporting recovery by using care plans, carrying out care procedures and evaluating the needs of the patient rather than the illness or conditions. This could be anything from monitoring someone’s blood pressure to their heart rate or bodily functions. As well as helping patients to wash, dress and move about. It includes keeping a close eye on patients and being able to assess how unwell a patient is and being able to respond to changes quickly.
Within the National Health Service (NHS), there is a very clear career structure, supporting nurses in their development. The opportunity to specialisms in adult nurses including promoting health, caring for people when they are at their most vulnerable, perhaps recovering from major illness or surgery. This means that the settings that adult nurses work in are very diverse, ranging from an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) to a patient’s own home.
Paediatric nursing involves working with children who have minor illnesses all the way through to children who have serious, or life-threatening conditions. Working with children can be as much about looking after the family as it is looking after the patient.
A lot of care provided is reassurance to the child’s family. In long-term issues, paediatric nurses spend time helping families to understand the challenges their child may face following injury, a long-term diagnosis or following surgery. They will help to build their confidence to correctly support the child.
In paediatric nursing, your degree would usually have to be specialised. There are many children’s hospitals in the country, and most general trusts will have at least one children’s unit. Within Accident and Emergency (A&E), there is usually a few children’s nurses. They also work within adolescent mental health services.
Children’s nurses need to be highly observant and flexible problem solvers. They need to recognise when a child’s condition is worsening and act quickly and decisively. Children’s nurses need to be prepared to advocate for the child whenever and wherever necessary. They also need to have good communication and interpersonal skills, while being emotionally resilient.
Mental Health Nursing
Mental health nurses work with patients, their carers and their families, in a diverse range of settings and also in teams with various functions. Some mental health nurses work in ‘in-patient’ settings, such as hospitals or psychiatric units, aiding the recovery of those who require a period of constant care.
Other mental health nurses work in day or residential services, and many mental health nurses work in teams within the community. Community mental health nurses work with people in their own homes, or in the local community, such as clinics or drop-in centres.
Mental health nurses either need to complete a pre-registration degree, which is a normal nursing degree and then go onto specialise in mental health. Nurses can either specialise in mental health through on the job training or through a post-graduate master’s degree. The other option for becoming a mental health nurse is by doing a mental health nursing degree.
Mental health nurses not only need to be resilient to do their work, but they also need the emotional intelligence to remain calm under pressure, whilst supporting patients in their recovery. They need to know how to handle a crisis situation, without passing judgement on the individuals they are supporting.
Special Educational Needs Disability Nursing
Special Education Needs (SEN) nurses work in a multi-disciplinary team of professionals, as well as alongside the patient’s family and carers. Individuals with SEN can often experience physical, sensory and/or mental health challenges, so it would be common for SEN nurses to be working alongside other nurses and professionals, such as mental health nurses and therapists.
SEN nurses work with some of the most at risk people, promoting health and well-being. Whilst, enabling people who are usually socially excluded to live fully integrated and independent lives. They work with a range of people with diverse needs, from children all the way through to older people.
SEN nurses can work in a number of different settings, including community teams, schools, respite facilities, secure services, and prisons, amongst others. To become an SEN nurse, you would have to hold a nursing degree, specialising in SEN. Again, this can either be gained through on the job training, or a post-graduate master’s degree.
As an SEN nurse, you would need to have highly developed communication and interpersonal skills, to enable you to relate to individuals at different levels. You should be able to work both independently and as part of a multi-disciplinary team of professionals. Working as an SEN nurse can be physically and emotionally demanding, so the ability to be resilient towards your work would be necessary.
How can I get into Nursing?
There are numerous academic requirements you would need to be accepted onto a nursing degree. These vary depending on the university and the type of degree you plan to study.
Generally, most universities ask for 5 GCSEs, including Maths and English, at grades A-C. Some may ask for Biology also. They also ask for 2 A Levels relevant to nursing, or equivalent. The equivalent could be an Access to Higher Education Diploma.
If you would like to study nursing but do not hold the relevant qualifications, consider an Access to Higher Education Diploma in Nursing, providing the perfect starting point for any nursing degree. This course is studied entirely online, and at your own pace. There is no need to worry about your already established schedule.
learndirect’s Access to HE Diplomas are written by subject experts and you are provided with a professional tutor, offering around the clock, specialist support. What’s more, you now have the option to spread the cost of your learning.