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The Multiple Career Options Offered By A Degree In Nursing

Update Date: Jan 15, 2021 11:57 AM EST
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The Multiple Career Options Offered By A Degree In Nursing
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When many people think about nursing, they're perhaps limited to an old-style, Florence Nightingale type view of working in wards performing purely a caring role. However, a healthcare qualification can open many interesting avenues of work, far removed from just traditional hospital employment. 

Also, the skills developed in studying nursing are highly transferable to other positions and are often valued by employers in completely different industries. A nursing qualification fosters many additional vocational and personal talents that can be put to good use in other roles. 

Perhaps more importantly, with so much uncertainty in the world right now and so many jobs being lost through the COVID crisis - plus the increased use of automation in the workplace - studying a defree in nursing could offer you much-needed, highly-valued job security moving forward.

Career Skills Developed by Nursing Graduates

As mentioned, a degree in nursing helps foster many personal talents that can be put to good use in all walks of life, not just in your role at work. Some of the skills you will improve while studying nursing include:

  • An ability to problem-solve quickly and effectively - crucial in the care environment but also useful for other positions (and life in general)

  • Stronger analytical skills to help you assess situations from all angles and find the best solution for all concerned

  • An adaptable and flexible approach to work and life

  • Highly-tuned skills of empathy, understanding, and caring

  • The ability to work effectively and productively as a team - plus knowing when and how to delegate tasks where necessary

  • A keen understanding of risk management and an understanding of when chances should be taken for the overall good

  • An ability to concentrate on the individual and provide people-centric care and solutions

Many of these talents are readily-transferable to other areas of work and are often highly valued by employers in other roles. Having demonstrable evidence of these types of skills can go a long way to landing you a job in seemingly unconnected roles in other sectors.  

Medical Career Avenues Upon Graduating 

As you might expect, there is a vast array of jobs that are open to qualified nurses directly within the healthcare industry. While some positions might require a little further training to work in particularly specialized areas of medicine, some of the more common roles open to graduates include:

Midwifery

Midwives provide a crucially important service to mothers-to-be through all stages of their pregnancy, including labor and even continuing into post-natal support. A trained midwife is expected to advise and support women on all aspects of their pregnancy as well as monitoring the health and well-being of both mother and child. This highly-rewarding - yet, in some cases, equally challenging - role requires a calm nature with advanced caring skills and a talent to be able to put people at ease. Strong communication skills are essential to keep mothers up to date with the progress of their children and advise of any potential complications. 

Adult nursing

Adult nurses provide primary care services to the sick and are normally the first point of contact a patient will have when attending a hospital or other healthcare establishment. This type of nursing involves treating patients with a variety of problems ranging from minor cuts, bruises, or breaks right up to those with long-term, chronic illnesses or diseases. Adult nurses typically work in multi-disciplinary teams offering care and support to the ill but are also expected to liaise with relatives to keep them informed of developments. Nurses will often devise patient care plans bespoke to the needs of the individual and so need to gain trust easily and effectively. This role is considered by many as being front-line nursing and can also afford an extremely rewarding and interesting career where you're really making a difference in the lives of others. 

Child nursing (or pediatric nursing)

Child nurses work treating the conditions or illnesses specific to kids. Child nurses typically have highly-developed skills of empathy and caring and have to put these talents to good use with young children, who are often incapable of describing what's wrong with them. They should also have finely-honed communication skills and be able to talk in a kind and caring way with parents and children alike. Child nurses will assess and evaluate the nursing needs of individual kids to work out the best course of treatment while also bearing in mind their particular social, medical, cultural, and family circumstances.

Health visitor

Health visitors play a pivotal role in the early years of pre-school children and their parents. The role involves assessing the parenting skills of families as well as home and environment circumstances to help ensure kids get the greatest start in life with the best support. As well as working with young children, health visitors are also frequently required to work with groups considered at-risk or suffering deprivation, including drug/alcohol addicts and the homeless, etc. A health visitor will typically work closely with other experts in the healthcare community such as GP's, midwives, or social workers to provide the best service, guidance, support, and advice. 

Mental health nurse care

Mental health nurses offer crucial support to individuals suffering from a wide variety of disorders and conditions. Problems with mental health are on the rise globally (though many would argue they're just being reported more) - so mental health practitioners are more in demand than ever and are playing an increasingly important in society. Often, mental health workers will choose to specialize in working with particular groups of people - for example, specifically with children or the elderly. It's also very common for specialists to concentrate on particular problems, such as problems with depression or anxiety, those with eating disorders, personality disorders, psychosis, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), or people suffering problems with drug or alcohol dependency. 

Learning disability nursing

Problems with learning disabilities affect people of all ages across all spectrums of society, and learning disability nurses deal with all sorts of people from all backgrounds. This highly varied role sees the nurse first assessing the particular needs of the patient then devising suitable plans and arrangements to help them live their lives as well as possible while also maintaining their overall health and well-being. Typical tasks include teaching patients how to look after themselves better while also developing ways to keep them mentally and physically healthy. The role might also involve trying to find individuals work or attending college. As well as dealing with the specific needs of the patient, a learning disability nurse will also work with family and friends of the patient to find ways to provide additional support. 

Wide Variety of Jobs 

The above career options are just a few examples of the types of work available in the healthcare industry. However, your options don't stop there. Just because you have a nursing degree doesn't mean you have to work as a nurse. In fact, you don't have to work in a healthcare environment at all. The healthcare sector is huge, with many specific jobs available that offer great options for people wanting a better work/life balance or those who want to take their career to a new level. 

In fact, many of the skills learned on a nursing degree are easily transferred into other roles and will prove a valuable addition to your CV when looking for other types of work. Sometimes, you may need to take extra training or education to embark on more specialized types of jobs that aren't directly related to nursing, but here are just a few positions where you'll have an immediate head-start with the talents learned on a nursing degree:

Specialist medical journalist

Nurses are, by nature, good communicators, and many possess strong writing skills suitable for journalist-type work. The same cannot be said when it comes to journalists and their knowledge of the medical and healthcare industries - meaning you'll have an immediate advantage applying for this type of work. 

Counselor jobs

The skills learned on a nursing degree can quickly transfer into a counseling role - and usually with very little extra training. Counselors help people improve their lives by identifying and addressing underlying issues that might be causing problems and helping them find more effective ways of dealing with these difficulties. The overall aim of counseling is to encourage positive change through listening to an individual's issues then offering support and empathy to help a patient work their way through them. 

Common problems that counselors try to address include issues with illness, divorce, or relationship difficulties, trying to deal with bereavement or general anxiety disorders. However, there are sometimes specific areas of counseling that people can focus on. For example, genetic counselors offer support and treatment options to individuals suffering from genetic conditions, including helping patients and their relatives to understand the part played by the genetic process. Counselors explain how hereditary factors can influence or contribute to their conditions as well as ways that recurrence within families can be mitigated or avoided. This tough and demanding job often means imparting medical facts or details, so it needs a strong sense of compassion and understanding. Counselors also need good listening skills and the ability to calm distressed patients. 

Medical sales representative

A great number of salespeople working in the healthcare supplies industry received their formal training in medicine before moving sideways into selling medical treatment tools, equipment, and medicine. The inherent understanding of the sector gained from a nursing degree course gives graduates the ability to speak with authority to decision-makers and can make them extremely effective in sales roles. 

Higher education lecturer or teacher

Higher Education (HE) lecturers find employment in colleges and universities, typically teaching subjects relevant to the degree they studied. This is the perfect option for nurses who are seeking to continue helping people but want to take a step back from the more demanding side of nursing and treating patients. As a nurse educator, you can continue to offer your experience and wisdom and pass this onto the next generation of nursing staff. There is no requirement to have specific teaching qualifications, although you may benefit (and be more employable) if you have at least some knowledge of teaching methods. If you are considering going down the nursing educator route, then you would benefit from achieving a masters in nursing education. This is perfect if you feel you lack lecturing skills/ Plus, many of the courses can be completed online. This means you can work at the same time, which allows you to continually improve your clinical skills.  

Social worker

Social workers provide support, advice, and guidance to often vulnerable individuals facing difficult times in their lives. Most social workers choose to specialize in either child or adult care, and their main role is to offer impartial solutions to ensure a positive outcome to their problems. The job sometimes involves making tough judgments for the overall good of individuals - often decisions that are unpopular with those who are receiving care.

Health service manager

Working as a health service manager will be much more of a sideways move than the other jobs listed above, but with the considerable skills and hands-on experience of the medical sector learned in a nursing degree, many graduates carve a successful career as managers. The responsibilities of the role include planning the fiscal operations of a hospital, GP surgery, or other healthcare practice and also involves strategizing the day-to-day running of practices. Health service managers normally work with a wide range of experts from both clinical and non-clinical backgrounds to achieve the best, most efficient, and cost-effective services. If the organization is government-funded, they will also have to work with health trusts and also remain mindful of political strategies and policies. 

The take out

Contrary to what many expect, a nursing qualification can open a world of career opportunities and give you useful skills that you can use in both your personal and working life. There can be few better qualifications to have if you're looking for truly varied employment prospects plus the potential to make a real difference to other people's lives. 

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