Different types of nursing specialties and roles in the UK (2023)

There are many different types of nurses in the UK, from A&E nurses to theatre nurses and ODPs. If you’re thinking about advancing your nursing career or are looking to change your role, you will find opportunities available to you along many different paths. At Thornbury Nursing, we work with qualified nurses in many different fields. These include:

  1. Theatre nurses
  2. A&E nurses
  3. District and community nurses
  4. Intensive care nurses
  5. Paediatric ICU / ITU nurses
  6. School nurses
  7. Neonatal nurses
  8. Oncology or chemotherapy nurses
  9. Endoscopy nurses
  10. Cardiac catheter lab nurses

Within this blog, we have provided you with a snapshot of some of the different types of nursing roles that are available to you across the UK. With so many different specialties to choose from, you are certain to discover opportunities that match both your passions and your preferences.

What nursing specialties are available to you?

Within the four main types of nursing that you can specialise in – adult nursing, children’s (paediatric) nursing, learning disability nursing, and mental health nursing – there are a variety of specialist roles to progress into. Here is a selection of those available to you:

Theatre nurse

Theatre nurses work within multidisciplinary teams, caring for patients at every stage of their surgeries. You’re involved in assessing patients before operations, answering questions as well as liaising with families and other team members. You also help with equipment needed during surgery, monitor patients as they recover, and get them ready to return home.

A&E nurse

In a busy A&E department, nurses care for patients of all ages with injuries or illnesses. The role involves the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of patients, where you are also involved in carrying out a wide range of procedures. A&E departments are becoming increasingly overstretched, but you’ll be helping people at a critical time when they need you most.

District and community nurse

As a district nurse, you work with people in their homes and other community settings, ensuring that they receive the right help, advice and support. Along with providing direct patient care yourself, you are also responsible for working with people, their families and their carers to teach and support them in the delivery of care too.

Intensive care nurse

ICU nursing sees you treating patients with acute care needs. This can be for planned admissions, where you monitor and care for patients following major surgeries. You can also work on emergency admissions, where you care for seriously ill patients who require a greater level of treatment and observation.

Paediatric ICU / ITU nurse

If you choose to work in paediatric critical care units, you’ll provide care for seriously ill or injured children and adolescents. The conditions and circumstances of these children and adolescents can vary, but all require constant monitoring and intervention.

School nurse

School nurses work with children and their families to educate and improve their health. Working in schools, health centres and homes, the typical duties of school nurses include assessing, supporting, identifying issues and helping children to develop self-care.

Neonatal nurse

In a neonatal nurse role, you’re based in a hospital, caring for newborn babies and supporting their families. Babies may be premature or have specific health issues and you’ll work varying shifts alongside others in your team to treat and monitor each baby.

Oncology or chemotherapy nurse

Oncology or chemotherapy nurses care for patients with cancer, providing them with the advice, support and treatment that they need during this incredibly difficult time in their lives. The role involves administering medications, assessing and monitoring patients and managing the side effects that patients experience following treatment.

Endoscopy nurse

If you choose to specialise in this area, you will assist in endoscopic procedures. You also care for patients before, during and after procedures. From preparing patients for endoscopies to supporting them in recovery rooms and discharging them home, you are involved in the entire process.

Cardiac catheter lab nurse

Should you decide to specialise in catheterisations, you’ll care for patients who need to undergo cardiac procedures where catheters need to be inserted. You are involved with pre-assessments, developing care plans, preparing equipment, assisting in minimally invasive procedures and monitoring patients during their procedures. You’ll also look after patients after procedures, including discharging them home.

What other nursing specialties are available?

There are many areas to specialise in within nursing. Along with those mentioned above, we work with a variety of other nurses at Thornbury, some of which include:

  • Practice nurses
  • Prison nurses
  • High dependency unit (HDU) nurses
  • Renal dialysis nurses
  • Emergency nurse practitioners (ENP)

Choosing your nursing specialty

If you are looking to specialise in a certain area of nursing, it can help to ask yourself some questions so that you take the right step forward. These questions could include:

  • What kind of working environment suits me?
  • Do I want to work in a hospital or the community?
  • Will my choice make me more employable?
  • What would be my responsibilities in that role?

Once you have a clearer idea of the career path ahead of you, it is then important to research the specialism in detail. It can then be helpful to ask yourself questions like:

  • Is there certain training that is required?
  • What types of opportunities are available?
  • What skills will be valuable in the future?
  • What experience can I start to gain now?

That way, you can start to plan the steps you need to take in order to progress down your chosen career pathway and fulfil your potential in your chosen field.

Join the Thornbury Nursing team

As a specialist nurse with Thornbury, you are able to work flexibly and have an opportunity to earn higher rates of pay than full-time permanent staff, as well as being able to broaden your skills and develop your career in a wide variety of nursing roles. Find out more about how much you can earn and how to register with us.

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