Case study

Specialist Community Public Health Nurse (SCPHN) — Georgina Hunter

Georgina studied for a BSc in SCPHN Health Visiting at the University of Surrey, Guildford. She now works as a SCPHN for the NHS. Discover what she loves most about her job

How did you get your job?

I applied for several posts before I finished my course, this way I had a contingency, securing at least two posts within the same Trust but in different localities.

As it turned out, there were no immediate job vacancies locally when I qualified three months later.  It can sometimes take up to three months to get through the NHS HR checks.

What's a typical day like as a SCPHN?

It can include several home visits- possibly with an antenatal mum and a family with a ten-day old baby. I'll spend time in the office to complete admin before lunch, than attend a local midwifery or GP liaison meeting to discuss the current pregnant ladies and maybe another home visit before heading home myself.

What do you enjoy about your job?

Meeting so many different families, especially all the babies. Compared to my previous career in mental heath most people we see are happy and healthy.

Plus, working with my lovely colleagues. It's the people you work with that make any job, whether you work in a supermarket or a hospital. This job is so 'social' getting on with your colleagues, and the support you get from your team is so important. Having a sense of humour always helps too.

What are the challenges?

Meeting commissioning targets and completing admin and clinical records. Deadlines for entering a clinical record within 24 hours after contact can be tough when there is a constantly increasing caseload.

Pressure to perform as usual when there are staff shortages or sickness is also a challenge. Each week there seem to be more and more forms, and less time to see patients, which is the 'fun bit' of the job.

In what way is your degree relevant?

One can only become a health visitor with this particular training. The SCPHN course is so varied. It gives an in-depth overview of public health and family service delivery (0-19 years) within the NHS and social sectors.

There are often options to continue onto the alternative branch modules in School Nursing or Occupational Health. This can expand career options even further.

How has your role developed?

As well as being a health visitor I am also a Registered Mental Nurse (RMN). This has enabled me to continue my specialism within the delivery of High Impact Area (HIA) 2 of Perinatal and Infant Mental Health (PNIMH). I am my team's PNIMH, and a health and wellbeing champion for colleagues.

I attend extra supervision and steering groups/meetings while disseminating relevant updates, training and research to my local team members. These roles also require running our local emotional wellbeing course for mum's suffering postnatal depression and facilitating internal training for Trust staff. 

Being able to continue my specialist area of interest also enables previous clinical passions to be utilised and kept up to date.

My other passion is mindfulness meditation. I have also been lucky enough to offer regular mindfulness to peers, to support with managing their stress and improving wellbeing. This has made me want to study mindfulness therapy, and I have recently secured a place at the University of Oxford to do this.

How do I get into health visiting?

  • Do your research - look up NHS trusts or career guides on NHS jobs or local private sector websites for offers of sponsorships or secondments. Compare several universities - each can slightly differ in module combinations and chosen options.
  • Don't be afraid to contact course leaders for help and advice - they can easily steer you in the right direction regarding entry requirements, course start dates and sponsorships.
  • Pace yourself - your own physical and mental health must come first, otherwise you will burn out. Eat well, rest, exercise and spend quality time with loved ones. If you don't look after yourself properly, you're no good to anyone else.

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