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Paediatric nurse: Career development

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Career development is structured and, after qualification and with experience, there are opportunities to specialise in a wide range of hospital and community areas. As a children's nurse you could specialise in a particular area of paediatrics, such as neonatal intensive care, paediatric oncology, burns and plastics, cancer care, child protection, ambulatory care, asthma, orthopaedics, diabetes, counselling, continuing care for children with special needs and work within young people's units.

As with other branches of nursing, there are opportunities to progress your career in management, teaching, research or in a community-based role, for instance as a school nurse or health visitor.

Many changes are taking place within National Health Service (NHS) and new opportunities are arising. The new locally commissioned NHS 111  telephone service (available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year) offers flexible opportunities outside hospital settings to nurses with post-registration experience.

Nurse consultant posts have been established across a wide range of services. Nurse consultants spend much of their time working directly with patients, but they are also responsible for developing personal practice, are involved in research, and contribute to the education, training and development of other nurses. They specialise in a particular area and are among the highest paid NHS nurses.

All nurses have a managerial element to their work, but some career paths are more management-orientated than others. As you become more senior, you can expect to have less hands-on nursing responsibility. You can move on to become a senior staff nurse, then ward sister or charge nurse. Management of a ward may lead to managing a clinical unit and, in the future, to executive posts within a trust.

Outside the NHS, opportunities for experienced practitioners can be found in private healthcare organisations, social services, voluntary organisations, charities such as Macmillan Cancer Support, teaching and assessment, and in health services overseas, in both paid and voluntary capacities. Nursing qualifications are transferable to other health services overseas. Registration with the Nursing & Midwifery Council (NMC)  facilitates this and information is available to member from the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) .


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Written by AGCAS editors
January 2014

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