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Nursing and Midwifery

Careers in Nursing

If you want to work in an environment that's interesting, challenging and rewarding, a career in nursing or midwifery has plenty to offer. Nurses work in every health care setting, from emergency departments to patients' and clients' homes and with people of all ages and backgrounds. There are also many opportunities for midwives to work on antenatal, labour and postnatal wards and neonatal units as well as in the community, providing services in women's homes, local clinics, midwifery-led birth centres and GP surgeries.

As a nurse or midwife, the impact you have on other people's health and wellbeing is huge. So, if you're caring, compassionate and have a commitment to helping people, you'll find a role that suits you. There are few professions that offer so much in terms of job satisfaction and support, while giving you the chance to enhance people's lives during their times of need.


Nurses are the largest staff group in the NHS/HSC. Nurses work in every type of health setting from Emergency Departments (ED) to patients' homes, with people of all ages and backgrounds.

You’ll train in one of the four fields of nursing - adult, child, learning disability or mental health. After gaining employment, you'll find there are lots of opportunities to progress your career and to specialise. Many of these opportunities will require experience and/or further training.

There are a number of careers in different areas of nursing and midwifery including adult, children’s and mental health.

Adult nursing

Adult nursing involves working with adults with many different health conditions. These nurses use their skills to improve the quality of patients' lives, sometimes in difficult situations. Work may be based in hospital wards, clinics or, increasingly, community settings.

To become a nurse, you need to value and respect the privacy and dignity of those in your care.

Mental health nursing

With an increase in mental health problems, mental health nursing has become a varied profession. The key role and challenge is to form therapeutic relationships with mentally ill people and their families.

As a nurse working in mental health you would work as part of a team which includes GPs, psychologists, social workers, psychiatrists and occupational therapists.

People with learning disabilities often have a wide range of physical and mental health conditions. Learning disability nurses provide specialist care in partnership with clients and their carers. Their main aim is to support the well-being and social inclusion of people with a learning disability by improving or maintaining their physical and mental health. For example, teaching someone the skills to find work can helping them lead a more independent and healthy life.

Children's nursing

Includes babies born with heart complications, teenagers who have sustained broken limbs, and child protection issues.

The work includes promoting health and development, as well as meeting the needs of those who suffer from acute or long term illness. Family-centred care is provided in hospital, day care centres, child health clinics and in the child's home.

For all areas of nursing you may do shift work to provide 24-hour care.

District/Community nurse

District nurses visit people in their own homes or in residential care homes, providing care for patients and supporting family members.

As well as providing direct patient care, district nurses also have a teaching role, working with patients to enable them to care for themselves or with family members teaching them how to give care to their relatives.

Health visitor

The role of the health visitor is about the promotion of health and the prevention of illness in all age groups. As a health visitor, you will carry out a wide range of work. You may be working with mothers of young babies, advising on things like:

  • feeding
  • safety
  • physical and emotional development
  • other aspects of health and childcare

You might also work with people of any age who suffer from a chronic illness or live with a disability. Your role here will include helping them to overcome problems they may face in coping with their illness or disability.


Pregnancy and birth are major events in the life of a woman and her family. Midwives provide care for women throughout the pregnancy and childbirth and are the lead health professional for those women whose pregnancies are uncomplicated.

Midwives work as part of a team of healthcare professionals including GPs, health visitors and social workers.

The midwife’s role is very diverse. Their work includes:

  • carrying out clinical care
  • providing health education
  • supporting the mother and her family throughout the childbearing process

This involves antenatal education, preparation for parenthood and extends to certain areas of gynaecology, family planning and childcare.