A lot of members who contact the RCN Career Service express a desire to develop, progress or change, but aren't sure which way to go or even where to start looking.
If you're looking for ideas about different options and what you might like to do next, this page could help you. Rather than compiling a long list of all the various roles to be found within nursing, we've tried to separate roles into groups of attributes, interests and strengths. See if any of the groups below resonate with you and if so, start to explore some of the related jobs in more detail.
Many nurses are drawn towards specialist roles because they have a particular interest or passion within a certain area of nursing, and prefer the idea of being a clinical expert within that area. You could specialise:
Nurses working within specialist roles will have specialist skills, competencies and experience, and practice at an advanced level. They will also usually have completed or will be working towards post-registration courses or qualifications relevant to their specialist area such as modules, degrees, or Masters. They work independently, often taking sole responsibility for a caseload or group of patients.
Some examples of specialist roles:
'Advanced' roles are often characterised by higher levels of clinical skills and competence, increased responsibility, more autonomy to make decisions, etc. If the idea of using advanced skills, dealing with more complex patients and having more freedom to make decisions appeals to you, you may want to consider an advanced nursing role.
Nurses working in advanced roles may have a slightly wider breadth of practice than nurses in specialist roles, although this is not always necessarily the case. In the case of Nurse Practitioners or Advanced Nurse Practitioners, a high degree of autonomous decision-making may be required, along with the remit to diagnose, treat and prescribe.
Examples of Advanced roles:
Nurse leaders help patients by managing the nurses who care for them, drawing together patient experience and the coordination of the multidisciplinary team. They also play an important role in providing staff with learning and development opportunities.
If you enjoy situations where you can take the lead, and like the idea of motivating a team, you may want to consider a leadership role.
Examples of leadership roles:
If you're interested in leadership roles...
If you're passionate about learning and like the idea of developing others, you may want to consider a role within nurse education or the facilitation of learning.
You could develop, implement and deliver strategies to support the educational needs of nurses and/or students, ensuring best practice and evidence based care at all times.
Some examples of education or learning roles:
Nurses within research provide and deliver high quality patient care to support the delivery of clinical research studies within a service or department.
Duties could include preparing trial protocols and other trial-related documentation, dealing with data collection, submitting study proposals for regulatory approval, and coordinating the initiation, management and completion of the research.
Examples of jobs within Research:
If you're interested in research roles...
The success to career progression often depends largely on adopting a pro-active approach and, "putting yourself out there."
Find out how you can develop yourself as a professional and boost your career by arranging shadowing, informal visits or networking.