Career advice

Paul Edwards: busting the private sector myths

Paul Edwards of Bupa UK urges you to keep an independent mind when choosing your next career move.

Paul Edwards of Bupa UK urges you to keep an independent mind when choosing your next career move

Nursing in the independent sector can offer a range of diverse roles, from working with
older people in care homes to paediatric intensive care. Picture: 1989  

The independent sector, with its range of career possibilities, doesn’t always feature in nurses’ career decisions, yet careers in this area can be extremely rewarding. So let’s dispel some of the myths that may hold nurses back when making career choices.  

‘Nursing in the independent sector will limit my career’

All too often nurses think that the only way to develop their career is in the NHS. The independent sector can offer just as many exciting roles and careers. Many nurses have carved out substantial careers in the independent sector and are now leaders in innovation and practice. 

‘Nurses in the independent sector don’t get access to the same learning and development opportunities’

Independent sector organisations offer continuing professional development that rivals that in the NHS. At Bupa, for example, there is a development pathway that builds skills and knowledge for each and every nurse. It also offers all of the support mechanisms you would expect: preceptorship, clinical supervision and annual appraisals. 

‘Nurses in the independent sector are behind the times in terms of research and evidence-based practice’

The independent sector can be much more agile when it comes to change and improvement and can be less bureaucratic, which enables new ideas and thinking to be taken up quickly. 

‘Nurses in the independent sector are less skilled than those in the NHS’ 

All nurses in the independent sector are registered in exactly the same way as those in the NHS and are expected to practise as professionally as any other nurse. They deal with complex needs and have to be highly skilled to take on their roles, particularly in care homes. Many nurses in the independent sector lead national and international groups of nurses and take part in developing policy and legislation.

‘Nurses in the independent sector aren’t as caring as those in the NHS’  

Having worked alongside independent nurses for many years, I know this isn’t true. At Bupa, we start by thinking of the person first and any conditions he or she may have as secondary. When you start thinking of patients or residents as people, service quality can be very different; little details suddenly become crucial and having more autonomy means nurses have the freedom to deliver the best care.

Why choose the independent sector?

Nurses in this sector are free to be the professionals they want to be. Many independent organisations encourage and reward dynamism and that is what makes this workforce so exciting. At Bupa, nurses have diverse roles from caring for older people in care homes and health assessment and promotional roles in clinics to cancer specialists in member services and paediatric intensive care in hospital. At every level, nurses are leaders and have the opportunity to undertake roles that actually change practice. The independent sector survives through quality and innovation, and if that is the nurse you want to be, keep an independent mind.

About the author




Paul Edwards is head of research and practice development at Bupa UK, and an editorial adviser for Nursing Management

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