Nursing is an incredibly diverse industry, which means that there are a plethora of potential routes to take when progressing in your career; all of which will prove to be ever so rewarding. Having spent many years working with medical professionals to track down their perfect healthcare jobs, we have become well-versed in the different types of nursing specialties, so have devised a guide to those that remain some of the most popular amongst nurses in the UK.
An Introduction To The Most Common Types Of Nursing Specialties
To become a speciality nurse, you must first gain a degree in the nursing field. You can choose to either embark on a general nursing degree then train in your area of interest or jump straight into a degree in the field of your choice. Before beginning your studies, there are a number of factors that you must consider such as the working environment that you can expect, as well as your responsibilities and the demand for roles in the particular sector. Many experienced nurses opt for retraining further into their career and experience different situations, which is the beauty of working in the medical industry. You most definitely do not need to be tied down to one role for the duration of your career, and you can choose to take on a new path at any stage, providing that you have the dedication to learn the theory behind the speciality.
If you are considering moving to a different nursing specialty, then we have put together a list of the most common in the UK, along with what you can expect from the role. We also have a plethora of nursing positions available at our healthcare recruitment agency, which are perfect for those considering the locum route.
Without further ado, let’s take a closer look at the following:
- Certified Midwife Nurse
- Neonatal Nurse
- Paediatric Nurse
- Critical Care Nurse
- Psychiatric Nurse
- Orthopaedic Nurse
- Theatre Nurse
- Geriatric Nurse
- Respiratory Nurse
- Cardiology Nurse
One of the most fulfiling careers in the nursing industry is midwifery and is the perfect route for those with a caring, empathetic nature. Certified midwife nurses are responsible for caring for both mothers and babies during pregnancy and labour, as well as the first stages of the postnatal period. Not only do they monitor health and wellbeing but also provide support and guidance on how to tackle life with a newborn. For many expectant parents, their midwives are often seen as a teacher and their first port of call if they have any questions regarding bathing and feeding the baby, for example.
To become a midwife, there are a few options that you can consider. If you are beginning from scratch, then you will need to complete a three-year, full-time midwifery degree. For those who are already a qualified nurse, on the other hand, shorter programmes are available to allow you to begin practising within a shorter period. For more information on the job profile of a nurse, take a look at the Prospects website.
If you are interested in caring for newborns, yet want to remain settled in one hospital, then you may want to consider neonatal nursing. When a baby is born either premature or suffering from a condition, then they will spend their first few weeks or months in a neonatal and special care baby unit, cared for by a neonatal nurse. The role will include several responsibilities from preparing medication and recording the care of the baby to supporting the parents. For parents with a newborn in hospital, this can be an incredibly stressful and worrying time, so a neonatal nurse must be able to provide them with the reassurance that they need.
When working as a neonatal nurse, you must expect varying shift patterns, both during the day and overnight, as the babies in the unit will require 24/7 care. You are likely to work alongside other healthcare professionals such as midwives and dieticians, who will ensure that babies are in the best possible health before being discharged. The NHS North Bristol website has a fantastic page written by Amy, a registered neonatal nurse who runs through a typical day in the role.
A paediatric nurse, also known as a children’s nurse, works with all ages under the age of 18, making it a super flexible role. It comes alongside great employment prospects meaning that from this field, you can then move into many other specialties. Typically, a paediatric nurse will be responsible for assessing the requirements of the child before ensuring that they are paired with the correct level of care. They will then spend time observing the condition of their patients, recording data such as their pulse and temperature, as well as administering any necessary medication. As every child is different, every decision must take into consideration their development, medical history and family circumstances, meaning that you are likely to be faced with tricky situations. Nevertheless, one of the most important aspects of being a paediatric nurse is the ability to communicate as much like in neonatal units; parents need to continually be updated on the condition of their child.
Taking on the role of a critical care nurse requires extensive experience in the industry, meaning that it is not a responsibility that you can expect to take on during the early stages of your career. You must already be a registered nurse then complete further training to equip you with the knowledge required to make critical, prompt decisions in fast-paced situations. Patients are likely to be battling life-threatening conditions and will require constant monitoring, as well as specialist treatments.
As a critical care nurse, you will be expected to take a thorough approach to care for patients, completing comprehensive assessments and performing tests. You will also have to feel confident performing particular invasive interventions, including inserting arterial lines. During each shift, you will be working collectively with others involved in the patient’s care, such as surgeons and intensive care doctors.
A psychiatric nurse takes on the role of supporting patients tackling mental health issues, meaning that although it can be incredibly demanding, the position gives you a real chance to make a difference in patient’s lives. As opposed to working with different patients every day, you will spend time developing relationships with individuals, building their trust so that you can gain an accurate insight into their situation. This will also allow you to identify particular triggers so you can intervene ahead of time.
Working as a psychiatric nurse means that you have the opportunity to travel across various environments, not only in a psychiatric ward in hospitals but also in prisons and community centres, for example. You are also likely to find that you regularly visit the home’s of parents to provide support.
For those hoping to work in a less fast-paced environment, orthopaedic nursing is a fantastic career to consider. As an orthopaedic nurse, your role will be to work with patients to aid their recovery from surgery or an injury. The aim will always be to get the patient back to their daily life as quickly as possible, so it will require you to be hands-on with fitting casts, splints and dressings. They will look to you for reassurance and advice, so remaining positive and confident will be of utmost importance.
Although as an orthopaedic nurse, your primary responsibility will be working directly with patients, you will also have to complete paperwork and documentation to keep track of their recovery. This may include ordering additional supplies and materials required to continue your care.
One of the most common nursing jobs that we receive vacancies for is a theatre nurse and is a role that can prove incredibly interesting. As a theatre nurse, you will be involved in every stage of a patients surgery meaning that you will have the opportunity to work in a larger team filled with medical professionals from surgeons and anaesthetists to even healthcare scientists. On your day-to-day shift, you will guide patients through the four phases of their perioperative care; these are:
- Preoperative – This involves an assessment of the patient, running them through what they can expect from the operation, including risks and benefits, answering any questions they may have.
- Anaesthetics – You will be responsible for supporting the anaesthetist, as well as preparing aspects such as equipment for the operation.
- Surgery – During the surgical phase, you will need to prepare the necessary equipment and be ready to hand these over to the surgeon upon request.
- Recovery – When the patient reaches the post anaesthetic care unit, you will need to support them in their recovery, monitoring their condition and providing them with any necessary treatment.
Focused on providing care to the older generations, in particular, elderly patients, geriatric nursing is a broad field which allows you to work in a host of different environments. As opposed to only being based in a hospital, you are likely to find that you will become accustomed to other settings such as care homes, hospices and outpatient departments. You could also consider working as a geriatric nurse in A&E and acute care wards. You will be working very closely with other teams whether this may be your patient’s GP, carers or social workers, which means that communication skills will be imperative.
As a geriatric nurse, your ability to remain upbeat and positive will be vital in striving in your role. You will begin to build relationships with your patients, many of which are likely to find the ageing process incredibly daunting. This means that you will need to take a calm, friendly approach to keep them in full health, encouraging patients to remain updated with their medication and be transparent if they are beginning to feel unwell. More information on what to expect as a geriatric nurse can be found on Every Nurse.
There are a number of respiratory conditions, both acute and chronic, which means that continuous care is crucial in ensuring that the health of patients does not deteriorate. This is where the role of a respiratory nurse comes in, who will be responsible for addressing these health issues and treating patients. They will work closely with patients to monitor their condition, recording any changes and making sure that they are aware of the symptoms that their health is worsening. From here, respiratory nurses will then begin to piece together a treatment plan, whether this may be medication or devices which will assist breathing.
Much like many of the other specialties discussed, there are several different settings that you can work in as a respiratory nurse. Although many stick to a hospital or clinic, you could consider other environments such as assisted living facilities or private offices.
As a cardiology nurse, you will be working as part of a team who specialise in treating cardiovascular problems, whether this may be through surgery, medication or spending time putting together a lifestyle plan. Your responsibility as a nurse will be keeping track of patients medical history and performing tests to diagnose any underlying issues. You will also spend time with the patient and their family, helping them to understand the nature of their condition and what to expect in the future.
Along with treating patients with a diagnosed condition, you will also care for those who have recently experienced a heart attack, for example or are recovering from surgery. Again, you will work with patients to piece together a plan of action to keep them healthy after their recovery, modifying their daily life to promote a healthier cardiovascular system and scheduling regular assessments.
Finding The Perfect Speciality For You
There is nothing more rewarding than working in the healthcare industry, and as a nurse, there are endless ways that you can make a real impact on the lives of your patients. Room for growth will always be available, and there are a host of wonderful opportunities to train in alternative roles.
If you are hoping to experience different environments within your existing role, then please do not hesitate to get in touch with our team about their locum nurse positions, which will allow you to tailor your role to your requirements.