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Working in healthcare

How do I change my career as a nurse?


A career in nursing is incredibly fulfilling, with many people considering it their vocation. You are working within a tight knit team, making a noticeable difference to people’s lives every day, and constantly broadening your skillset. But it’s perfectly normal at points to deliberate if you want to change your career as a nurse. You might want to explore other areas in healthcare, study to further your career, or perhaps leave nursing all together.

It can be bewildering when you start looking into alternative career options, but a huge advantage of a career in healthcare is how many transferable skills are gained. There are multiple career paths open to you, whether you are currently a nursing professional looking for a change, or a candidate with nursing experience trying to map out a new career plan. So where do you start when working out how to change your career as a nurse?

Popular jobs that a nurse can transition into

Whilst it’s important to work out which areas of work you enjoy and where your skills lie, it can also be useful to see where other people’s careers have taken them. These are the most popular careers for nurses to move onto, and a great place to start your career research.

  • Midwife
  • University nurse lecturer
  • School Teacher
  • Mental Health nurse
  • Health Services Manager
  • Nurse practitioner
  • Counsellor
  • Chemist
  • Agency Nurse
  • Physical Therapist
  • Project Manager

Alternatively, you might be a Healthcare Assistant looking ahead in your career and asking whether a Healthcare Assistant can become a nurse? With training, qualifications and support from your employer, there is no reason why you can’t progress from a HCA to a nurse.  Beginning your career in healthcare as a HCA will give you a great opportunity for career development in many healthcare sectors. Nursing is quite simply just one of your options.

What transferable skills does a nurse have?

Nursing is a highly skilled job, and there is a long list of transferable skills gained from your training and on-the-job experience that makes you desirable for a number of industries.

Communication Skills

Nurses need excellent communication skills – both within their team, and whilst speaking to patients and their friends and family. They must be able to convey information clearly during times of high pressure and simplify difficult situations in a calm and calculated way.

Communication in a compassionate and understanding way, also makes nurses superb communicators who are able to perform professionally whilst under pressure.

Critical Thinking and Problem Solving

Nurses are trained to assess a number of conditions, provide multiple diagnoses and develop treatment plans. These tasks require a great amount of critical thinking and problem solving abilities.

Time Management and Organisational Skills

As a nurse you are responsible for looking after others whilst managing multiple tasks and responsibilities. Nurses must be able to organise their work efficiently, meet deadlines, and adjust their plans as when they’re needed around the hospital/surgery.

These type of organisational skills can make nurses great candidates for manager roles where delegating tasks and hitting deadlines is key.

Working under pressure

Nurses often work in high-stress environments, and must be able to remain calm and focused in emergencies. With your experience in nursing, you will naturally be able to make decisions quickly and respond to unexpected situations.

Teamwork and Collaboration

Nurses work in a number of teams every day. Whilst working closely with other healthcare professionals, including doctors, therapists, and support staff, nurses also have to adapt to patients from different backgrounds. Collaborating effectively and working as part of a team are skills needed in a number of industries.

How to train to become a nurse?

Perhaps you are at the beginning of your career and contemplating becoming a nurse? There is extensive work that goes into a career in nursing, but it’s also a hugely satisfying profession.

To become a Registered Nurse you will need 5 GCSE’s, including Maths and English, grades A-C. Then most people enter nursing courses by getting their A-Levels or Scottish Highers, or an Access to Higher Education or BTEC through a further education college. You must have gone to university and completed a Nursing degree in one of the four fields; Adult nursing, Children’s nursing, Learning disability nursing and Mental health nursing. A nursing degree will provide hands-on experience alongside formal classroom-based learning, so you put your learning into practice alongside your studies. When you have completed your education and training, you need to register with the Nursing & Midwifery Council.

It’s common for nurses to have considered a career as a midwife at some point, and although they are different degrees they often do some of their training together so it’s a great way of seeing if midwifery is an area that interests you.

What to prepare for a career change?

A huge benefit of a career in nursing is the continuous professional development. There are so many opportunities to study, learn and expand your knowledge, which is a valued skill in any profession. No matter what stage in your career you are at, there are extensive resources offering help and advice on how to prepare for a career change.

This guide gives invaluable advice on how to prepare for an interview, including key areas of research, which questions you are most likely to be asked and how best to answer them. It also offers advice on preparing questions so the interview panel knows you are engaged, but also to find out if this is the right role or career direction for you. You can also read what’s best to include in your nursing personal statement, and check out current vacancies to gather ideas of which area of nursing and healthcare would suit you ahead of applying for jobs.

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