When you consider becoming a nurse, you may automatically imagine yourself working in a hospital ward for the rest of your life. However, this definitely doesn’t have to be the case. Having a nursing degree opens many doors and you certainly won’t be limited to working in a hospital forever (unless you want to, of course!).
Specialisms in nursing
When you qualify as a nurse, you can decide to specialise in a certain aspect and look for a job in that area. For example, you may like to specialise in general practice or mental health nursing. There are lots of specialisms in nursing and we’ve compiled this list of the most common ones, so if you’d like to learn more about the different jobs you can do with a nursing degree, keep reading…
Adult nurses work with adults who suffer from a wide variety of health issues. These adults may be suffering from heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, or a number of other problems. Adult nurses treat them in a range of areas including hospital wards, outpatient units, and the patients’ homes.
This could be a good choice for a qualified nurse who would rather work with adults than children, or a nurse who wants to have a varied workload because every adult will have a different health problem. Adult nurses have a really positive impact on people’s lives, so this could definitely be a very rewarding career choice.
Mental health nursing
Mental health nurses specialise in helping people who are suffering from mental health issues such as psychosis, depression, and eating disorders. Their days usually involve giving advice on where patients can seek counselling and directing them towards charities that can help them. They also liaise with doctors and psychiatrists to monitor medication. Mental health nurses must also maintain good relationships with mental health services, relatives, and carers.
Mental health nurses work in a variety of settings including hospitals, GP surgeries, and psychiatrist wards, so this could be a good choice for any nurses who don’t want to stay in one place. It’s also a good choice for any nurses who still want to make a big impact on people’s lives without having to deal with physical injuries and illnesses on a regular basis.
Agency nurses go wherever there’s a shortage - such as a hospital ward that’s short-staffed - and are used to cover any nurses who are on holiday.
The nature of agency working means that there’s a lot of flexibility - they can choose which days and weeks they’re happy to work - so this could be a very good choice for nurses with young children because they could easily take a few weeks off in school holidays. It’s also a great option for a newly-qualified nurse trying to decide where to specialise because they’ll get lots of experience in a variety of settings.
However, it’s important to note that there may be weeks when there’s no work available, which could cause financial problems for some people. It can also be a little difficult to make friends with co-workers as an agency nurse because you’ll always be working somewhere new.
A practice nurse works in a GP surgery, where they carry out routine examinations. It could be anything from smear tests, diabetic foot checks, vaccinations, asthma reviews, baby clinics, and a number of other tasks.
Often there’s only one nurse in a GP surgery, so this may not be the best choice if you’d rather be surrounded by a team of other nurses. However, the staff in GP surgeries are usually a tight-knit group because of their small size, so you could easily make friends with the doctors, secretaries, and everyone else who works there.
One major advantage of being a practice nurse is having normal working hours. Unlike other hospital nurses, practice nurses are never obliged to work on Christmas day, bank holidays, or during nights because GP surgeries are closed.
Children’s nurses work with sick, injured, or disabled children. Children can't communicate in the same way as adults, so children's nurses have to be very sensitive to any behaviour changes that could suggest pain or illness. They must also know exactly how a healthy child progresses to adulthood to minimise the chances of illness, as well as being able to communicate sensitively with parents and carers.
Whilst being a children’s nurse can be emotionally tough, it gives you a chance to make a real difference in children's lives, so this could be a good choice if you're ready for a rewarding challenge.
Learning disability nursing
Learning disability nurses provide healthcare and support to those with learning disabilities. They’ll also be on hand to help families and carers to provide them with the tools to live fulfilling lives. They work in a variety of areas such as people’s homes, residential care centres, and hospitals, so there’s a good mix. A typical day would involve assessing and planning care requirements, organising social activities, and writing records and reports.
As a learning disability nurse, you’ll help patients break down barriers to independence and will also help equip them with the skills needed to find work, so this is a great choice for anyone who is eager to make a real difference and help people.
District nurses travel around their local area, visiting the homes of people who are bed-bound or too unwell to visit a hospital. Their visits may involve dressing wounds, giving medication, and doing weekly blood tests.
District nurses are always out on the road so this is a good option for anyone who doesn’t like being stuck in one place. However, the nature of the job means you have no co-workers, so this may not be a good choice for anyone who enjoys working in a team. As it involves a lot of driving around, it also may not be the best career path for nurses who aren’t comfortable behind the wheel or those who get very frustrated waiting in traffic!
What can you do with a nursing degree if you don't want to be a nurse
A nursing degree equips you with many brilliant transferable skills, making a career change entirely possible if you ever decide to try something new. For example, all the medical knowledge would help you on your way to becoming a midwife or a medical secretary and all the people skills would help you become a social worker or a counsellor.
Even if you choose to pursue a completely different career in the future, the skills that you learn as a nurse will always stand you in good stead. Nurses have to keep their cool in high-pressure situations, treat everyone with kindness and patience, and work well in a team. So, if one day you find yourself applying for a job in retail or in an office, your nursing skills will definitely be valued by employers.
Equally, if you take a job as a nurse in the NHS, you’d be eligible for our affordable low-cost loans at Salad Money. Life incurs unexpected costs, and getting caught out shouldn’t mean landing yourself with a debt you can’t pay back. Contact us today to find out more about our loans.