Exploring roles within the clinical practice arm of nursing
The majority of nursing roles fall within the category of clinical practice, characterised by delivering direct care to patients, clients or service users, and boasting the widest choice of roles at a variety of different settings and levels.
In terms of career progression, most individuals will gain a few years post-qualifying experience before going on to senior, specialist or advanced roles.
However it's not all about “moving up the ranks,” and you may instead want to explore a sideways or lateral move. This could be to change setting, gain experience in a different clinical area, enjoy new challenges, work with a different client group, facilitate a lifestyle choice, or indeed act as a stepping stone for future plans.
If you’ve been working at band 5 level or equivalent, but feel you’d like more responsibility or autonomy, you may want to consider a senior nursing role.
Senior nursing roles are usually characterised by working at a higher and more autonomous level, utilising enhanced skills and competencies, and often dealing with more complex patients or cases. Providing clinical leadership and mentoring/teaching often form a key part of these roles.
Senior nursing roles usually sit at a band 6 or equivalent and require a few years’ worth of post-registration experience. (There are some exceptions: more junior practice nurse posts can sit at band 5, and training programmes can be available at entry level. Midwives enter on band 5, but go up to band 6 after a year or two due to a special transfer mechanism.)
Senior nursing roles can often act as a good stepping stone, leading to roles in advanced or specialist practice, teaching, research or leadership roles.
Examples of senior clinical roles
If you're interested in senior roles...
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:
If you're interested in specialist roles...
If the idea of developing and using advanced skills, dealing with more complex patients and having more freedom to act appeals to you, you may want to consider an advanced nursing role.
Such roles are characterised by advanced clinical skills and competences, a higher degree of autonomous decision-making, along with the remit to diagnose, treat and prescribe. They require an education to Master’s level, as well as prescribing qualifications.
Nurses in advanced roles practice across primary, secondary and tertiary care, from general practice, to emergency care, to specialties like paediatrics, neonatal care, cancer care, ophthalmology and orthopaedics.
Examples of Advanced roles:
If you're interested in advanced roles...
If you think you might be suited to an advanced role, you'll probably want to do some further research before you start applying. Here's some things you can do: