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 being able to work part time, being able to work core hours, working flexibly, working from home, or being able to spend more time with family.

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, family reasons, or personal reasons.

It's worth noting that it may be possible for you to review your contracted hours and working pattern by submitting a Flexible working application. The RCN may be able to help you negotiate this, or represent you if your request is unreasonably refused.

See below for some examples of nursing roles and healthcare services that are more likely to have core hours.

Working patterns vary greatly depending on the type of role, clinical area, client group, business needs, and geographical location, but there are some nursing roles that usually tend to come with core hours.

Here are just some examples to get you started:

  • Dialysis nurse
  • Functional assessor
  • Disability analyst
  • Health Visitor
  • Clinical Nurse Specialist
  • Nurse Consultant
  • Immunisation nurse
  • Occupational Health Nurse
  • Research nurse
  • School Nurse
  • Teaching and educative roles
  • Training roles
  • Practice Nurse
  • Travel nurse
  • Treatment room nurse
  • Commissioning roles
  • Policy roles

You may also want to look for roles within services or departments that are more likely to operate within core hours. Here are just some examples:

  • Day wards
  • Day clinics
  • Day surgery
  • Outpatients
  • ENT
  • Ophthalmology
  • Endoscopy
  • Discharge planning
  • Occupational Health
  • Public Health
  • General Practice
  • Schools
  • Fertility clinics
  • Sexual Health / GUM clinics
  • Research departments
  • Office based roles (see more office based roles below)

Remote working / agile working / home based

Remote working or home working has become more common since the pandemic.

Some roles involve working from home all of the time, most of the time, or some of the time. There are some examples of remote roles further below.

In addition you could have a look at some examples of office-based roles further down this page, where home working may be more possible or negotiable. 

The NHS jobs website also offers an "agile/home working" filter. See under the sub filter "working pattern." A lot of the big job search websites now have these types of filters too.

By doing some research and enquiring within your professional networks, you can identify employers or industries that tend to offer remote or agile working, and sign up for job alerts with them.

Remote working or home working have become more common since the pandemic. Some roles involve working from home most of the time, or part of the time. 

Here are just some examples of nursing roles that can be done remotely:

  • Telephone triage nurse (e.g. working for GPs or services like NHS 111)
  • Nurse adviser (telephone)
  • Practice Nurse (telephone based)
  • Occupational Health Nurse
  • Nursing roles within health insurance / health surveillance / health screening
  • Trainer roles
  • Nursing journalists / editors
  • Nurse expert witness
  • Recruitment (e.g. recruiting nurses)
  • Nurse Interviewer (e.g. interviewing nurses for agency roles)
  • Health Informatics, eHealth, or digital roles
  • Counsellor (telephone)
  • Wellness adviser (telephone)
  • Life coach (telephone)
  • Case management (e.g. PIP assessors, Nurse Disability assessors, Continuing health assessors)
  • Office roles

You may want to use a search engine to search lots of different job vacancy websites at once, using terms such as:

  • "nurse"+“home based”
  • "nurse"+“home working”
  • "nurse"+“remote working” 

Office based

Office-based roles can often be more suitable for those who want to work core hours. Depending on the employer and nature of the business, requests for flexible or part time working can be more feasible in an office environment than in a clinical setting.

They may also be more suitable for individuals with health considerations, those looking for less physically demanding roles, or those needing less patient contact. These employers are often in a better position to accommodate reasonable adjustments such as workstation adjustments, regular breaks, or special equipment.

You could consider:

  • Training roles
  • Education roles
  • eHealth, telehealth or digital roles
  • Occupational health roles
  • Telephone advice roles
  • Commissioning roles
  • Managerial roles
  • Policy roles
  • Project roles
  • Advisory roles
  • Admin roles
  • Journalist or editorial roles 

You can also look for health related positions within:

  • NMC
  • NICE
  • BMA
  • Charities (e.g. Cancer Research, Diabetes UK, British Heart Foundation, NSPCC, Mind, etc) 
  • NGOs
  • Progress Educational Trust
  • British Pregnancy Advisory Service
  • King’s Fund
  • Medical Defence Societies
  • Government
  • MOJ / Prisons / Police / Armed Forces
  • Schools
  • Universities or colleges
  • Local authorities or councils
  • Health insurance companies
  • Occupational Health Services
  • Medical device companies
  • The pharmaceutical industry

Flexibility / ad hoc

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 
  • Locum work
  • Contract work
  • Freelance work

The NHS jobs website also offers filters such as 'flexible working', 'compressed hours', 'term time hours', and 'annualised hours,' under the parent filter "working pattern." A lot of the big job search websites also have these types of filters.

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

Don't forget that you can explore Flexible working in your current post, and request flexible working patterns. The RCN may be able to help you negotiate your request or represent you if your request is unreasonably refused without good business reason.

Less physically demanding

Physical demands of nursing can include lifting, manual handling, being on your feet for long periods of time, working long shift or night shifts, having sporadic breaks, or extensive travel. Due to various health considerations, disability and/or changes in circumstance, healthcare professionals may need to consider roles that are more suited to their health requirements.

It may be possible for you to make changes to your current role with a Flexible working application (e.g., less hours, shorter shifts) or to ask for reasonable adjustments or redeployment (e.g., changes to working pattern, no heavy lifting, designated breaks). Speak to the RCN to get information on your legal rights and explore whether you need local RCN support with this.

If you need to find roles that are better suited to your health requirements, there is a list of ideas further below, as well as information and ideas throughout this page regarding remote working, office based working, admin roles, etc.

RCN Career Coaching

If you're at a career crossroads due to a change in your health, you may want to explore using the RCN's career coaching service. See the FAQ "Career Coaching: I need to manage my career around my health or disability" to check if and how coaching would benefit you.

The RCN's Peer Support Service

The RCN Peer Support Service has lots of resources and information to help you including:

  • A Peer Support Network and Peer Support Facebook group
  • "Health Ability Passport" guidance, a process used to open up discussions with your employer about your health needs, and capture help/reasonable adjustments
  • Case studies of members who have successfully adjusted or redesigned their career around their health or disability.
  • Disability coaching

Access to Work

Access to Work grants can cover both employees and self-employed workers, offering funding for things like special equipment or software, taxi fares to get to work, changes to your vehicle, workplace coaching, mental health support, and more

If you need to prioritise your health and/or disability when finding a role, please bear in mind that suitability will depend on a unique set of factors completely personal to you, such as the nature or severity of your health condition(s), your limitations, your resources, your interests, the job market, your location, your career objectives, and your values.

Two jobs with exactly the same job title could vary greatly in terms of demands, workplace environment, or workstation set up, with one being suitable for you and the other not, despite looking identical on paper. You will need to consider any role on its own merit and circumstances, as well as weighing up any rights under the Equality Act 2010.

Here are some ideas for you to explore further:

  • Administrative or clerical roles (see further down this page)
  • Advisory roles (face to face or telephone based)
  • Call handler / Emergency dispatch assistant
  • Clinic based roles 
  • Clinical Nurse Specialist
  • Commissioning
  • Complimentary therapies
  • Counselling
  • Disability assessor
  • eHealth, informatics or digital roles
  • Expert witness
  • Family planning / Sexual health
  • Governance roles
  • Home based roles (see further up this page)
  • Journalism / Writing
  • Management / leadership roles
  • Nutrition / Dietitian
  • Occupational health
  • Office based roles (see further up the page)
  • Phlebotomist
  • Policy roles
  • Practice educator / Practice facilitator
  • Practice Nurse /  Practice HCA or AP
  • Project management roles
  • Quality assurance or risk management
  • Research roles
  • Safeguarding roles
  • School nursing
  • Teaching / Education
  • Training roles
  • Travel nursing
  • Triage (face to face or via telephone)
  • Research

Part time hours

Many members want to work part time for personal reasons, health reasons, family reasons or lifestyle reasons.

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 workingto request part-time hours. The RCN may be able to help you negotiate, or represent you if your request is unreasonably refused.

If you're searching for roles with part-time hours, some vacancies may be open to discussion when it comes to contracted hours, so always check the job advert. Even if a role is advertised as full time, you could contact the hiring manager to discuss/negotiate.

The NHS jobs website offers a 'part-time' or 'job share' filter under the parent filter "working pattern." A lot of the big job search websites have such filters too.

Administrative roles / non-clinical roles

If you need to take a temporary or permanent break from nursing for personal reasons, health reasons, or legal reasons, but still want to work within the NHS / healthcare, you may want to consider administrative or non-clinical roles within the NHS or other healthcare organisations.

If you are an NMC registered nurse or registered professional, take care to explore any impact on your registration, revalidation requirements and/or staff benefits. Contact RCN Direct to speak to an adviser if you need more advice about this, or speak to your local RCN rep or RCN officer if you have one.

See also:

  • Medical PA
  • Data Scientist
  • Clinical coding coordinator
  • Peer support coordinator
  • Administrator
  • Administration supervisor
  • Medicines Management Administrator
  • Rostering Administrative Support 
  • Medical staffing administrator / Co-ordinator
  • Macmillan cancer support officer
  • Publications / design assistant
  • Data manager
  • Unit enquiries and sales coordinator
  • Procurement officer
  • Business Support Officer
  • For more examples, see stepintothenhs.nhs.uk/careers
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