Work life balance

Research shows we are happier and more fulfilled when working within jobs that align with our values and priorities. Your values and priorities may be linked to the working environment or scope of a role, such as spending more time with patients, having more autonomy, or having opportunities for progression.

However, they may also be linked to lifestyle or work life balance, such as working part time, working core hours, working flexibly, or being able to spend more time with family.

Finding a role with core hours

It may be that your primary focus is to find a job with more regular hours. This could be for health reasons, lifestyle reasons or family reasons. Finding a 9-5 job within nursing can be challenging, since the majority of patient services require round the clock care, with healthcare professionals expected to work flexibly to cover need and demand.

It may be possible for you to review your contracted hours and working pattern by submitting a Flexible working application. 

It's true that working patterns vary greatly depending on the type of role, clinical area, client group and/or business needs, but there are some nursing roles that are predominately worked within core hours:

  • Clinical lead
  • Commissioning roles
  • Dialysis nurse
  • Functional assessor / Disability analyst
  • Health visitor
  • Immunisation Nurse
  • Occupational Health Nurse
  • Outpatient service roles
  • Practice Nurse
  • Research Nurse
  • School Nurse
  • Teaching and educative roles
  • Training roles
  • Travel Nurse
  • Treatment room Nurse

In addition to exploring the above list (which aims to provide you with a snapshot of some examples) you may also want to look more generally, but aim your job searching at businesses, organisations and services that only operate within core hours.

Finding a role with flexibility

If your priority is to have greater flexibility, or control over the hours you work, you may wish to explore flexible working roles such as:

  • Bank work
  • Agency work
  • Self employed work 

You may want to read more about bank and agency work, as well as self employed work. Being a flexible worker has its pros and cons, depending on each individual and their circumstances, so make sure you weigh up your options and do your research before leaving your contracted or permanent role.

Finding a role with part time hours

Many members want to work part time for health reasons, family reasons or lifestyle reasons. Part time posts are advertised but can sometimes prove quite competitive due to being in high demand.

Some vacancies may be open to discussion when it comes to working hours, so always check the job advert. Even if a role is advertised as full time, there's no reason as to why you can't contact the hiring manager for a chat, and discuss the possibility of being considered on part time hours prior to application.

If you're already in employment, you may want to ask to drop your hours to work part time, either on a temporary basis or permanent basis. 

You may want to read more about part time working and how to apply for flexible working.

Finding a role that is suitable for your health

It may be possible for you to make changes to your current role with a Flexible working application, or to ask for reasonable adjustments or redeployment. You can speak to the RCN for more advice on this, and to discuss whether you need support from a local RCN rep or officer to help you negotiate with your employer.

If you need to find roles that are better suited to your health requirements, our page Managing your career around ill health and disability has a list of roles which can sometimes be less physically demanding, or tend to operate around core hours.

The Peer Support Service also has lots of resources and information to help you.


Career path ahead

Career Coaching

The RCN offers free, one to one Career Coaching over the telephone. Explore situations where coaching may benefit you

Career progression tips

Tips and ideas to help you develop as a professional and boost your career.