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According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), there are over 27 million nursing professionals in the world. For so many of those people, it’s a vocation, but the truth is that nursing can actually prepare you for many different roles – whether as a nurse or in a related field.
In this article, we’ll explore the world of nursing, touching on common educational routes, average salaries and the six career paths you can take with a nursing degree.
What is nursing?
Nursing can be many things, but at its core, it’s about the promotion of health and well-being. Nurses work closely with individuals from the hospital to the home. Their role is to assess patient health, monitor reactions to treatment and support people with those treatments wherever necessary.
They work alongside doctors and other healthcare professionals to care for people from all walks of life: adults, children and individuals with mental health conditions or learning disabilities.
What are the different types of nursing degrees?
To become a nurse, first, you need to qualify for a degree-level course in nursing.
Nursing degrees are broken into four main specialisms. When you’re studying, you’ll decide which to focus on or specialise in. The four main nursing specialisms include:
- Adult nursing
- Child nursing
- Mental health nursing
- Learning disability nursing
In countries like the UK, US, and Australia, this will almost always be a three-year Bachelor of Science (BSc) in nursing, often abbreviated as BSN in the US.
In the US, it’s also possible to study for a shorter (two-year) Associate Degree in nursing, although your career options will be more limited without a full bachelor’s. For an in-depth understanding of different degree types, check out our types of degrees in the UK article.
Postgraduate nursing degrees
Many nurses may also decide to study at postgraduate level if they want to further specialise in a field, or take on a management role in an organisation. Typically, this would be a general Masters in Nursing.
A few examples of more specialised postgraduate nursing degrees include:
- Oncology nursing
- Mental health nursing
- Community nursing
- Palliative care
Nursing salary expectations
One of the best things about a career in nursing is that there are so many opportunities for growth. You can start as a newly qualified nurse and build up to a career as an advanced practitioner, matron or even Chief Nurse.
Below, we’ve listed the average annual salaries of nurses across a few countries around the world:
- UK: average salary of £40,668 per year
- USA: average salary of $102,982 per year
- Australia: average salary of A$85,000 per year
- India: average salary of ₹2,52,675 per year
Remember – the annual salaries above are just an average of all nursing roles in these countries. As a newly qualified nurse, you’ll likely start on a lower salary before building your way up to a higher salary.
What jobs can you do with a nursing degree?
While an undergraduate nursing degree prepares you for the basics of nursing, there are so many avenues you can take after that initial degree.
We’ve selected a few of the most common careers for people with nursing degrees to give you a flavour of what to expect in each role.
1. A & E nurse
Not for the faint-hearted, an A & E (also known as an ER Nurse), works at the frontline of healthcare. Working in an emergency department, you’ll care for emergency arrivals, dealing with everything from acute illness to severe injuries.
No day will be the same as you work alongside doctors and other specialists to provide critical care for patients.
2. Nurse paramedic
A similarly fast-paced role, a nurse paramedic provides critical care to patients who are on their way to a medical facility like a hospital. Working alongside trained paramedics, you’ll likely require additional training to take on the role – but a degree in nursing is a fantastic place to start.
3. District nurse
A slightly less hectic, but no less vital role, a district nurse’s role is to provide care to patients in the community. You’ll often work in patients’ homes to create tailored healthcare plans for their needs.
A large part of the role may also include chatting with loved ones to provide the most appropriate health and social care.
4. Children’s nurse
A paediatric, or children’s nurse, works exclusively with children, caring for anyone from birth to age 18. You may work in an educational setting or at a medical practice with other professionals, providing a wide range of services for young people. From listening to their worries to assessing health concerns and giving medicine, this job can be anything you make it.
5. Mental health nurse
As a mental health nurse, you’ll work alongside professionals like psychologists and psychotherapists to support individuals living with mental health conditions. Your role will often include giving advice, administering medicine and chatting with the friends and family of your patients.
6. Learning disability nurse
A vital role for people living with learning disabilities and their families, your job is to make sure your patients live happy, fulfilling lives. With a deep knowledge of their individual needs, you’ll work to improve physical and mental health and remove barriers to independent living.
Study nursing with FutureLearn
Whether you want an introduction to nursing or are interested in learning more about a particular specialism, we have nursing courses for all abilities. Working exclusively online with some of the world’s best universities, you’ll find a nursing course to suit you.
Online nursing courses at FutureLearn
- Introduction to Nursing by York University
- Public Health & Nursing by Coventry University
- Care Home Nursing: Changing Perceptions by University of Dundee
- Masters in Nursing from Coventry University
Are you looking to gain a nursing degree online? Check out our range of online nursing degrees and start your journey towards a new career from the comfort of your own home.