Portfolio Careers for Nurses

by Barrie Hopson on January 9, 2018 · 0 comments

in Flexible working,Future of work,New ways of working,portfolio careers

Fascinating article by Kim Thomas on the massive changes in work life and career options for nurses today. She makes the point that a few years ago, most nurses could expect to spend their working life in a hospital. These days, England’s 281,000 nurses work in a variety of roles. Many support chronically ill patients in their own home, or work in care homes, or provide urgent out-of-hours emergency services. Some are key members of multi-disciplinary rapid-response teams, providing intensive support to patients so that they don’t have to be admitted to hospital.

About 15,500 nurses work in GP practices, and, says Wendy Preston, head of nursing practice at the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), many surgeries employ nurses in a senior role: “There are lots of really good examples of doctors’ surgeries that are run or led by nurses. The clinical lead might be a nurse, and they may have GPs working for them as part of their team.”

This new independence is rewarding. But there are also exciting opportunities for progression into advanced or specialist roles,  carrying out tasks previously performed by doctors, such as assessing and diagnosing patients, writing prescriptions and helping patients manage their medication. An advanced practitioner nurse, says Preston, “can open and close a case. They can be the first person a patient sees, and they can help them all the way through their journey.”

These roles require extra study, often to master’s level: nurses who specialise in areas such as cancer, diabetes or strokes, offer expert clinical knowledge, as well as care and emotional support to patients. Surgical care practitioners (SCPs) are able to carry out surgeries, such as facial skin-cancer excisions, without a consultant. Unlike other nursing roles in the surgical team, SCPs are involved with the patient from the moment they set foot in the hospital until the moment they go home.

Training requirements for these roles are being standardised, so nurses who qualify for advanced practitioner status will, while carrying out their nursing job, train for three to five years to develop expertise in four areas: clinical knowledge, education, research and leadership.

This breadth of training will make it easier for advanced practitioner nurses to pursue portfolio careers, says Preston, who, in addition to her RCN role, works as an advanced nurse practitioner at an out-of-hours GP service: “You might work in clinical practice as an advanced nurse practitioner in a hospital or a GP surgery, and then you might work at a university one or two days a week. Some people might have a policy role where they’re working with the local clinical commissioning group or within a trust to do workforce planning or quality.”

What I find fascinating about this is that even in a ‘traditional’ career like nursing, new forms of work are emerging and increasingly there is an attraction for some to engage in a portfolio career.

If you look at my blog in October 2016 I discuss how GP’s were being encouraged to think about a portfolio career.

So even in the most traditional of careers we are seeing the attraction for increasing numbers of a portfolio career.

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