Subject guide: nursing
By Nicole Correia,
Nursing is something that, for many, is a natural instinct. A nurse has many workplace options that we may not even realise before looking into the occupation. As a nurse you could work in patient’s home or in local health clinics and centres, prisons, mental health homes, cruise ships, and of course, hospital wards. The role of a nurse is incredibly broad as not only do they evaluate a patient’s health but they also follow their healthcare by supervising and looking them as well as supporting a medical team and the patient’s family. It all sounds exhausting, but it can be incredibly rewarding. There is a lot of room to develop, grow and learn; it is a career for life.
What types of nursing degrees are available to you?
There are a number of different course variations when it comes to nursing. It may be that you are set on what sector you’d like to focus on, for example, if you have always wanted to become a Midwife, a Bachelor of Midwifery is your obvious choice. However, if you’re thinking about ‘nursing’ under the wider bracket you must consider if you want to specialise in adult care, child care, adult mental health, child mental health or both combined. You could also study healthcare science, where you focus on cardiovascular, respiratory and sleep science, occupational therapy, physiotherapy or podiatry. If you’re still not sure then it may be an idea to research the management of the healthcare system, or specialist community public health nursing - a mouthful, yes, but taught in a number of top universities all the same.
Things to consider
It is essential that you do your research first, know what you’re interested in and look into studying further within your nursing degree. There are far more places other than hospitals that nursing graduates work within including the armed forces, special schools, care homes and colleges. We have broken down several branches of nursing for you, so that your nursing options may be clearer and you can apply which is most appropriate to your personal goals and ideas for the future.
Adult nurses, of course, work with adults, ranging from young adults to the elderly. This means that you need to have a broad understanding of the different needs within not only age brackets but also with regards to the personal needs of each individual and how they may differ from other adults. This type of degree branch is most appropriate for a student who is able to work in a busy environment and team dynamic. It is important for students to be observant and cautious in their counselling techniques; caring for a patient’s wellbeing and continuing to learn and observe through experience is also important.
Mental health nursing
Undergraduate nurses need to be able to deal with emotional and challenging situations very early on in the mental health branch of a nursing degree. Looking forwards, mental health nurses will work alongside psychiatrists and psychologists, making their work environment somewhat different to students who have studied adult nursing. Like all branches of nursing this can be particularly rewarding for those that continue to work closely with improving the lives and well-being of their patients.
Children's nurses work with children as young as new-borns, all the way up to the teens. There is lots of study on child development and so it is important that an undergraduate is interested in all stages of childhood and adolescence. Children’s nursing graduates can find themselves working not only in hospitals but child health clinics, child homes and day care centres. There are numerous possibilities.
Learning disability nursing
Learning disability nurses work very closely with carers and family members in delivering their care and guidance. It is essential that undergraduates are sensitive to see the effects of a disability for not only the patient but those around them. Their main aim is to address social inclusion, increasing independence, and wellbeing. They may go into teaching life skills to someone faced with disability barriers to help them lead a more fulfilling and happier lifestyle. These types of nurses are needed within community centres, colleges and residential centres.
Course and universities examples
Nursing (Mental Health)
Nursing (Learning Disability)
City University London
Glasgow Caledonian University
Career options from a nursing degree
Nursing is one of the few careers in life that truly can offer the phrase ‘no day at work is ever the same’ - even between nursing careers there are many different options and pathways to pursue. You can decide to work with the community or more privately. With a nursing degree you can become a school nurse, a health visitor, a therapist, a mentor, prison nurse, district nurse - the list goes on. It is all about focusing in on where you would like to help most, what you would find most rewarding and where your skills are best suited to develop.