7 Types of Nursing Careers

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 25 June 2021

If you're a well-organised individual who enjoys caring for people, you may find job satisfaction with a nursing career. To become a nurse, you need to have the right qualifications. Knowing how to pursue a career in nursing and the various nursing jobs available can help you better prepare for your future. In this article, we explain different nursing careers and why you should pursue them, provide you with the steps for pursuing a nursing career and answer frequently asked questions.

Related: How to Become a Doctor in the UK

What is a nursing career?

A nursing career is a profession in the healthcare industry that involves the care of individuals who suffer from illnesses, injuries or disabilities. All nurses help their patients maintain, recover or improve their health and overall quality of life. Nurses typically have the following responsibilities:

  • Check patient vital signs such as blood pressure, pulse rate and temperature

  • Administer drugs and injections

  • Use medical equipment

  • Clean and dress patient wounds

  • Update patient medical records as needed

  • Assist doctors with physical examinations

  • Monitor a patient's progress to ensure the effectiveness of the treatment plan

  • Work alongside healthcare professionals to determine the best care

  • Offer advice to patients and their families

Why should you consider a career in nursing?

Before you pursue a nursing career, it's important to ensure you're the right fit for the profession. Consider your personality, your interests and your short and long-term goals before making a career decision. Here are some reasons to consider becoming a nurse:

  • Make a difference: Working as a nurse gives you the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of your patients. As a nurse, you essentially work to save lives, ensuring your patients receive quality care.

  • Advance in your career: A nursing career gives you many opportunities for advancement. Between professional development opportunities and a wide variety of advanced degrees and specialities, you have plenty of chances to progress in your field.

  • Work with people: Not only do you interact with your patients as a nurse, but you also communicate with your colleagues and superiors every day. If you want a job with plenty of social interaction, a nursing career may suit your needs.

Types of nursing careers

If you're interested in pursuing a nursing career, you have many specialities to consider. While all nurses provide care and support for their patients, some nurses specialise in certain types of care and in treating certain types of patients. Here some different nursing careers to consider:

Adult nurse

Adult nurses provide care to adults of all ages. They observe their patients to identify their needs. Based on their findings, they determine an appropriate care plan. They also build a trusting relationship with their adult patients. Typically, they help adult patients who suffer from long or short-term physical conditions. Some of these conditions may include arthritis, cancer or pneumonia.

Children's nurse

A children's nurse administers care to children from birth to adolescence. Apart from caring for a child, you're also responsible for providing support for the child's parents, guardians and wider family.

Children's nurses often work with children who have specific health needs. Because of this, it's important to understand how a healthy child develops into adulthood. While all nurses need strong communication skills, children's nurses use this skill to communicate with children who may not have the ability to express their feelings like an adult. Therefore, it's imperative to interpret a child's behaviour and reactions to care for them effectively.

Learning and disability nurse

A learning and disability nurse provides specialised care and support to individuals who suffer from a learning or physical disability to help them live a more fulfilling life. As a learning and disability nurse, you can expect to maintain or improve a patient's physical and mental health, or help them reduce any barriers they face that keep them from living a full and independent life.

Mental health nurse

Mental health nurses provide care to patients suffering from mental illnesses. They support their recovery and help them live more independent lives. Mental health nurses establish trusting relationships with their patients and their family members and caregivers. They may inform their patient about the right medication dosage, advise them about relevant therapies and identify whether they're at risk for harming themselves or someone else.

Licensed practical nurse

Licensed practical nurses manage patient care. Under the supervision of a physician and registered nurse, they note their patient's medical history, take their vital signs and provide them with routine care. Licensed practical nurses also administer medication and collect medical samples as needed.

Registered nurse

Registered nurses monitor each of their patients and determine their needs to provide them with the best care. They communicate their findings to physicians and work with these physicians and their fellow nurses to develop a personalised care plan for each patient. Registered nurses also perform physical exams and record a patient's health history.

Psychiatric nurse

Psychiatric nurses specialise in mental health and provide care for patients with mental illnesses. They make a diagnosis regarding a patient's medical and emotional status and recommend certain treatment options. They also consult with other members of the behavioural health staff to ensure the right treatment plan for each individual.

How to pursue a nursing career

You can pursue a nursing career through a university course or an apprenticeship if you already work in a healthcare setting. An apprenticeship takes approximately four years to complete, combines academic study with on-the-job training and requires your employer's support. If you're entering the healthcare field, consider following these steps to pursue a nursing career through university:

1. Meet the university entry requirements

Before pursuing a university degree, make sure you can meet the entry requirements. While the requirements vary by the university, you often need two or three A-levels or similar qualifications at level three. You also need supporting GCSEs including maths, science and English.

Research the specific requirements for the school you're interested in attending and pursue the right qualifications. Keep in mind that some universities offer classes with a foundation year geared toward students without the required entry requirements.

2. Pursue a university degree

Determine the field of nursing you want to study and earn a degree in nursing that's approved by the Nursing and Midwifery Council. Some degree courses known as "dual field" degrees let you study two fields rather than one.

If you already have a degree in a health-related subject, such as social work, life sciences, psychology or social work, you may have enough qualifications to enter your second year of a nursing degree programme. While much of a nursing degree programme involves studying the course material, it also involves practical, hands-on experience with patients in a variety of settings like hospitals and clinics.

3. Become a volunteer

While not a requirement, becoming a volunteer can help you gain valuable experience for your career. Consider pursuing an internship in social care or healthcare before applying for nurse training. Not only can an internship help you improve your skills, but it also gives you real-world experience. In addition, you receive an opportunity to make valuable connections in your field which may lead to more job opportunities in the future.

Related: How to Become a Midwife: Steps and FAQs

Frequently asked questions about nursing careers

Use these questions to learn more about nursing careers:

How much can you earn with a nursing career?

Nurses earn an average salary of £30,998 per year in the U.K. This salary may depend on your employer, your geographic location and your speciality.

Related: How to Negotiate a Better Salary

What skills do you need as a nurse?

Nurses need a variety of skills to complete their job duties with greater efficiency. Here are some of the key skills you need for this profession:

  • Empathy: Nurses use this skill to better understand their patients and the challenges they face. Showing an understanding of your patient's feelings can help them trust you more.

  • Attention to detail: As a nurse, it's important to have strong attention to detail to monitor any changes in your patient's condition. This ensures they receive the best level of care.

  • Time management skills: Nurses manage multiple patients at one time. Because of this, they need to know how to prioritise certain tasks throughout their day to maximise their efficiency and complete their duties on time.

  • Computer skills: Nurses often use computers to maintain patient information and records. In this profession, it's important to know how to use a computer and various software.

Related: Computer Skills: Definitions and Examples

What is the work environment like for a nurse?

Nurses may work in a variety of locations including a public or private hospital, at a hospice centre or a patient's home. Because of the nature of a nursing job, you can often expect physically and emotionally demanding shifts.