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.