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A beginner’s guide to nurse career progression

Progressing further in your career as a nurse can seem like a complicated, murky venture. Often, avenues for progression aren’t clearly laid out for our perusal: nurses must take a proactive approach, and seize opportunities for advancement and expansion in their job role.

To avoid confusion, we offer you a beginner’s guide to progressing through a nursing career. Here, your potential career journey should be revealed as much simpler!

The ‘usual route’

According to the NHS, the typical route for a career within nursing might progress much like this:

  1. Start as a Nursing Cadet
  2. Become a Healthcare Assistant in Nursing
  3. Senior Healthcare Assistant
  4. Community Care Assistant
  5. Staff Nurse
  6. Senior Staff Nurse
  7. Advanced Neuroscience Nurse Practitioner
  8. Lead Advanced Neuroscience Nurse Practitioner
  9. Director of Nursing

This seems like quite the career path! However, this is just an example of one route you can take with climbing the career ladder in mind. Most of the time, many nurses reach a position that suits them best, and decide to stay there.

Registered roles

With that in mind, many nurses consider progressing into registered roles. Under the ‘nursing’ umbrella, these roles include that of allied health professions, healthcare science and medicine.

Routes into registered roles such as these, more commonly, involve higher education: degree apprenticeship programmes and the Nursing Associate pathway included.

Do consider that you might have transferable skills – borne of your current education – that are needed to branch out into the aforementioned areas of healthcare. You don’t always have to begin from ‘square one’ with your nursing career.

Specialise into senior support roles

Nurses, particularly those who have degrees in adult nursing or an alternative, well-rounded and equitable qualification, can choose to specialise further. Consider progression pathways into senior support roles, focused on a certain speciality of healthcare. For example, you might pursue a career as a radiography assistant, practice educator or theatre support worker.

Outside of the clinic

Of course, nurses aren’t bound to the halls of a hospital or clinic. You can progress outside of this usual realm, and focus your attentions on policy development or administration. These are essential aspects of growing, improving and enhancing current health services.

Certainly, improving our health services for the better necessitates an intimate experience of healthcare processes, something in which nurses are extremely well informed, and can therefore make substantial change.

Pursue a different kind of recruitment

As a nurse, you might be closely acquainted with the usual recruitment agencies. Unfortunately, when recruited through a ‘traditional’ agency, you might find that you have very little control over what job roles you take on, and where you end up. This can leave you dissatisfied with your career in the long term, and unwilling to even explore any avenues for progression! So, don’t be afraid to think outside of the box, and scout for nursing jobs elsewhere.

Consider devoting some of your time to a nurse recruitment tool – a modern invention by pioneers such as Medimatch, designed to connect nurses with the right hospital, clinic or job role for them.


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