Exploring roles within the clinical practice arm of nursing
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 qualifications relevant to their specialist area such as modules towards a degree pathway, SCPHN courses, or Masters programme. Although they work within a multidisciplinary team, they have a greater deal of autonomy, and will be responsible for a caseload or group of patients.
Some examples of specialist roles:
The RCN recognises that advanced level nursing practice is broader than a title, acknowledging this is a level of practice and education. For the purpose of this page, which is intended to inspire career choices, we've used the term "advanced," to describe any nursing role that requires working at a higher level of practice.
Advanced roles are often characterised by higher levels of clinical skills and competence, increased responsibility and accountability, more authority and autonomy to make decisions. 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.
Registered nurses working at an advanced level work in various health care settings, in primary, secondary and tertiary care, such as general practice, accident and emergency departments, minor injury units, medical assessment units, out of hours services and within specialties such as paediatrics, neonatal care, cancer care, ophthalmology and orthopaedics; in any setting where patients would benefit from nurses with advanced level skills and knowledge.
Nurse Practitioners or Advanced Nurse Practitioners have a higher degree of autonomous decision-making, along with the remit to diagnose, treat and prescribe, whereas Nurse Consultants could be leading a specialist service.
Examples of Advanced roles: