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A hospital isn’t the only viable place for a nurse to work these days. Call the Midwife has a lot to answer for, or maybe it’s just that nursing stereotypes are deep-rooted and persistent. Either way, nursing in the 21st century bears little resemblance to 1950s stereotypes.
In fact, a nursing degree provides some of the most versatile career options around – for both men and women – and some of them might surprise you.
‘Wherever there are people, you’ll find nurses,’ says Deakin University’s School of Nursing and Midwifery Senior Research Fellow, Dr Helen Rawson. ‘Of course, many nurses work in a hospital environment or a GP clinic, but there are countless other roles, settings and industries where you’ll find nurses working.’
A valued qualification, nursing can lead to careers in hospitals and beyond.
‘Almost every industry offers opportunities for qualified nurses,’ says Dr Rawson. ‘For nurses working in a hospital, there are many areas you can specialise in, for example the emergency department, medical and surgical units, intensive care units, paediatrics and theatres.’
If hospitals aren’t for you, a nursing degree can lead to work in many other areas:
‘There are also nurses working offshore on oil rigs, in forensics units, in the prison service and in the military service, for example. I’ve also known nurses who’ve gone on to a career as cabin crew on airlines.’
‘As well as healthcare, nurses are employed in education, the pharmaceutical industry, the legal profession, in government…the list goes on.’
'Of course, many nurses work in a hospital environment or a GP clinic, but there are countless other roles, settings and industries where you’ll find nurses working.'
Dr Helen Rawson,
School of Nursing and Midwifery, Deakin University
‘A nursing degree can be a passport to travel,’ says Dr Rawson. ‘Demand for nurses to work in regional and remote Australia is high, and working overseas is also a very real option because of strong demand for nurses in many countries.
‘The opportunities are vast, from a working holiday in somewhere like the UK, or working for an NGO in a developing country. Nurses are also employed by the world’s leading health organisations including the United Nations and World Health Organisation.’
If global roaming is on your agenda, consider these roles:
A nursing career can also open the door to countless leadership opportunities in a wide range of settings, says Dr Rawson.
‘Obviously nurses take on key management roles within their clinical area of choice, but many nurses also take on senior leadership roles within hospitals, in policy development, higher education, government and administration.’
Some of the many opportunities for leadership in nursing include:
While delivering the best possible care and advocating for your patient are central tenants of nursing practice, Dr Rawson says you can also forge a successful and fulfilling career in nursing away from the bedside.
In addition to working in multi-disciplinary teams with other professionals in the health sector, nursing skills can be combined with other disciplines, such as:
‘A nursing degree is a passport to an incredible career with a wide range of paths,’ says Dr Rawson. She should know – she’s an example of the professional variety on offer in nursing, and has worked in clinical settings in the UK and Australia, for NGOs in Kenya and Ghana. She is now a member of Deakin’s highly respected team of academics and teachers in the School of Nursing and Midwifery and the Centre for Quality and Patient Safety research.
‘I’ve loved my career in nursing and everywhere it has taken me,’ says Dr Rawson. ‘You’ll never be bored as a nurse because the opportunities to move and to reinvigorate your career are endless.’
Deakin University’s School of Nursing and Midwifery celebrated its 30th birthday in 2017. It’s one of the largest in Australia and ranked among the best in the world.
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