Career development is structured and, after qualification and with experience, there are opportunities to specialise in a wide range of hospital and community areas. These may include burns and plastics, intensive care, cancer care, child protection, ambulatory care, asthma, orthopaedics, diabetes, neo-natal care, 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 have been taking place within The National Health Service (NHS) and new opportunities are arising. NHS Direct in Scotland - the nurse-led telephone helpline - 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 education, training and development.
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 from the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) .
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