Thinking of using your nursing skills in areas other than hands on care? Susan Hughes, a career coach at the Health Learning and Skills Advice Line, explains how to make the move.
For many experienced nurses, there is a desire to move away from hands-on-care, and use your nursing skills in other areas. Fortunately, there is a wide range of different career paths open to nurses, such as management, research, health promotion and teaching.
As an experienced nurse you will already have a set of highly developed skills that employers will value, such as analysis, assessment and research. You’ll also be in a strong position because of your NMC PREP portfolio and any personal development plans will showcase your skills and achievements.
Unfortunately, it’s quite common for people to undervalue what nurses do, so a self-skills assessment will help to identify any unique selling points. It is also important to turn to your KSF outline from current and previous roles to help identify skills outside of hands-on-care. Bear in mind any experience outside of nursing that could be added to skills sets, for example volunteering, community work and membership of organisations. Above all, it is important to be honest - to yourself and any potential employer.
Schools of nursing at the local university will also have information on continuing professional development or post-qualifying programmes, workshops and study that match your career aspirations. Contact your current employer’s training departments and your manager to find out about access and financial assistance to appropriate training. If your employers are unable to completely fund the training, they might be more receptive if there are other offers to part fund it, and/or a demonstration of the benefits.
Using existing networks and contacts to enquire about new openings, opportunities and service developments could be essential in moving away from a role in hands-on-care. Employer websites also often have information about their plans for the next few years, so try to anticipate where and when opportunities will come up.
Preparation is essential for engineering a career outside of hands-on-care. There’s a lot to do and it will take some effort. Planning ahead will help in making the right career choice. Set realistic short and long-term objectives to help measure progress but be willing to reassess in light of new information and understanding. It’s important to keep aware of the range of possibilities outside of hands-on-care and be ready to take advantage of opportunities when they become available.
Run by the Careers Advice Service and sponsored by NHS Careers and Skills for Health, the Health Learning and Skills Advice Line provides careers information, advice and guidance to support people working in healthcare. The friendly, trained career coaches can also give you constructive feedback on your CV and help you with your skills assessment. If you are interested in developing your career, call freephone 08000 150 850 from 8am to 10pm, seven days a week.