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Mental health nurse: Career development

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Personal development planning is central to nursing posts in the National Health Service (NHS). This is implemented through the NHS Knowledge and Skills Framework, which determines required competencies for posts and provides the framework for which pay progression is achieved and reviews are carried out.

Career progression may involve developing a specialism in an area such as alcohol or substance misuse, forensic psychology, psychotherapeutic interventions or working with offenders. Some posts exist for mental health nurses to work with children and young people.

There are also opportunities to move into educational roles, such as:

  • mentor for newly qualified staff;
  • lecturer;
  • lecturer practitioner - continuing to deliver care to patients;
  • researcher - playing a key role in ensuring that the nursing profession is enhanced and informed by specialist knowledge.

Nurses may join unit or trust management teams in both advisory and executive capacities, making decisions that directly affect patient or client welfare, including financial and staffing matters. In hospitals and residential provision, you can progress to posts such as nurse manager or nurse consultant, which may also open up opportunities to work in a more specialist role. For these positions, you are likely to need further qualifications, possibly to Masters level, plus relevant experience. In some cases, the more senior posts have less hands-on nursing responsibilities.

There are increasing opportunities for experienced staff in the private and independent healthcare sectors, or you may choose to move into roles in social services, the prison service, voluntary organisations, or residential nursing homes. There are also a variety of opportunities overseas for qualified and experienced UK nurses in a range of countries, with posts in both paid and voluntary capacities and in private and state services.

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Written by AGCAS editors
February 2014

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