Career advice

Should I stay or should I go? Part 2

As a nurse you have skills and experience that are in demand outside the NHS and the healthcare sector. Mandy Day-Calder explains how to recognise your own value and make your move.

As a nurse you have skills and experience that are in demand outside the NHS and the healthcare sector. Mandy Day-Calder explains how to recognise your own value and make your move


When looking for a new role, don't set limits on yourself and take opportunities. Picture: Getty

If you want to move into a new role, you need to be able to sell yourself to prospective employers, and the first step in this process is knowing what you are capable of. Don't set artificial limits on yourself. You will have a wide range of skills that you can transfer to other environments, you just need to identify what these are.

In 2005 I left an acute NHS ward to work as a specialist nurse in the voluntary sector. One essential quality this new role required was to be confident in public speaking. When I first saw this, I panicked, but then I thought of all the times I had addressed groups of patients and staff and I thought, yes, I can do this. 

If I had gone with my initial reaction, I would have denied myself an exciting and rewarding opportunity.

Be proud

There are many ways to identify your skills, but one of the easiest is to think of all the tasks you perform in your current role. This is no time to be modest. The easiest way is to go through what you do during a regular shift, step-by-step. Don't just focus on your clinical skills: prospective employers will be looking for experience in areas such as time management, organisation, delegation, leadership and project management.

Employers also want to get a sense of how you approach your work. For example, are you reliable, trustworthy, a team player? How would you describe your role to someone who didn't know what a nurse was?

If you want to make a successful career change, you need to feel proud of who you are as a professional and all you have achieved in your career, regardless of your level of seniority.

Options

If you still want to work as a registered nurse, you will need to ensure that your future role supports the revalidation process. Remember that you don't need to be providing 'hands-on' care to meet the requirements, and check the NMC website for more information.

If you decide to leave the register, you can't be employed as a nurse, but you can still use the skills and experience you have gained from nursing within the wider context of healthcare or even in a different sector.

Try to familiarise yourself with the job market and consider speaking to a recruitment consultant. Potential careers options include:

  • Voluntary sector e.g. as a specialist nurse, managing a helpline, education, writing health information or campaigning.
  • Private sector e.g. nursing for an agency or fee-paying hospital, working for a pharmaceutical or medical device company.
  • Public sector e.g. health advisor to local authority or civil service.
  • Education e.g. as a lecturer or trainer.

Mandy Day-Calder is a freelance writer and health/life coach

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