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How to… become a health visitor


Ever considered moving into a primary care setting? Susan Hughes, from the Health, Learning and Skills Advice Line explains how to become a health visitor - one of the options available to qualified nurses and midwives.


To train as a health visitor, you must be a qualified, registered nurse usually with a minimum of one year’s post-registration experience. Health visitor training is usually one of a number of training pathways on offer as part of a university’s Specialist Community Nursing programme. Courses can be offered at undergraduate degree, postgraduate certificate/diploma or masters degree level, and usually take one year full-time or two years’ part-time to complete. If studying at postgraduate level, you will need to hold a first degree or provide other evidence of the ability to study at this level. With a further year’s part-time study, there may be the opportunity to gain an MSc.

In addition to spending time on placements in the community working under the supervision of an experienced health visitor, your training will cover topics such as:

Completion of approved health visitor training will enable you apply to join the Specialist Community Public Health Nurses part of the Nursing and Midwifery Council’s Professional Register.


Funding for health visitor training

In most cases, to complete the health visitor training you would need to secure the support of either your own or another employer who offers secondment or some other form of sponsorship. Most secondments are offered by primary care trusts (PCTs), and you will need to check if there are any other conditions; working for the organisation for a qualifying period, for example.

If you work for an acute trust, and are struggling meeting the secondment criteria, you may wish to consider applying for community staff nurse posts that will enable you to gain potentially valuable community nursing experience.

So what now?

Speak with your university school of nursing to ask if they run, or plan to run, health visitor training. You may also wish to contact your local PCT to enquire whether they offer secondments, how they advertise such opportunities, and whether you can register an expression of interest in future programmes. You can also find out more about from the  Community Practitioners’ and Health Visitors’ Association, who have produced an advice sheet on becoming health visitor.

For a free, confidential discussion about your career, talk to a trained advisor at the  Health, Learning and Skills Advice Line. Call freephone 0800 150 850 from 8am to 10pm, seven days a week.


Readers' comments (6)

  • and although you will be a specialist practitioner, and have a team of staff nurses or nursery nurses, that will be completely ignored and you will be on a band 6.

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  • I applied for HV training, didn't even get to interview stage after "failing" a comprehensive pre interview "test". I have years of community nursing experience, I'm a mother myself and I have a degree at level 6.

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  • Do you think there is a need for help in preparing for the interview and application?

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  • Yes I think it would be really helpful to have some interview preparation. I have been reading the papers they suggested but they are quite dense! Any tips would be greatly received!

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  • Liz Fletcher

    Southampton’s MSc Public Health degree is aimed at experienced public health professionals, midwives and nurses who want to develop their careers.

    There are two pathways on this MSc Public Health course: the generic pathway and the specialist pathway.

    The specialist pathway typically leads to employment as a school nurse or health visitor. In fact, the MSc Public Health degree is sometimes referred to as the health visitors’ masters for exactly this reason.

    It is possible to find out more information about the MSc Public Health practice degree at the University of Southampton by logging on to the Health Sciences website at

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  • does anyone have any tips for the pre interview test??
    It could be anything and judging by the second comment also very difficult!

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