Nursing – so much more than meets the eye – Zara Head

Our Lead Nurse for Primary Care Quality at NHS Doncaster Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and nursing ambassador explains why nursing is a fantastic profession and all students interested in working for the NHS should consider an exciting career as a nurse.

  • Do you like to look after people and make a difference in people’s lives?
  • Do you feel that everyone should have access to high quality care?
  • Do you enjoy learning, developing, and working in an ever changing environment?
  • Do you enjoy a challenge and can you think on your feet?
  • Would you like to work in a dynamic area where no one day is ever the same?

Then perhaps you should consider a career in nursing.

There are many routes into nursing, but taking this great opportunity at the launch of the latest ‘WeAreTheNHS’ campaign, encouraging sixth form students to think about their long term future at university, I’m shouting out to all those about to choose their university course choices, as well as their mums, dads, carers and families. I’ve been a nurse for more than 30 years and can honestly say it’s the best thing I’ve ever done.

A nursing degree usually takes three years and can specialise in areas such as Adults, Mental Health, Children and Learning Disability.

Whilst doing your degree, you’ll also learn and develop numerous practical nursing skills. You’ll do this in hospitals, out in the community and in general practice, amongst other supervised placements. This is where you’ll work with experienced staff who will guide you, teach you new skills and support you, while you grow in confidence and competence.

Becoming a registered nurse is challenging and not easy, but me thousands of other nurses know that nursing is one of the most rewarding jobs you can do.

Lifelong Learning

Nursing has a culture of continual learning; this supports developing and perfecting the right skills and knowledge for the numerous roles available. You’ll find your niche, the area of nursing that grabs your attention and makes you want to learn more. You can specialise in a specific subject, such as heart disease, drug and alcohol dependence or emergency care.

During annual appraisals, professional development is discussed and plans are put together identifying areas where more skills and knowledge can be obtained. Learning can be through study days, webinars, on line courses, conferences or formal study from diplomas to Masters degrees and PhD level qualifications. The list and opportunities are endless.

Work-life balance

Flexible working is often an option in nursing. Some nurses choose to work longer hours over fewer days which then frees up more time for other things. Because nursing as a profession is required around the clock, some nurses choose to work shifts around childcare or hobbies. Some nurses work office hours Monday to Friday and some even work during term time. The choice of working hours will vary between jobs and specialism, but there are so many different working patterns, you can certainly find one that suits you.

Job security

Technology is automating many jobs but it can never compete with the emotional intelligence of a nurse. Nursing requires clinical decision making skills, empathy and compassion; this cannot be replaced by a robot.

Technology may not be able to replace a nurse but technology can certainly enhance the care they give and nurses can embrace new technology and learn more digital skills.

Career progression and flexibility

There are so many different opportunities in nursing and more career paths than ever before. From general practice nurses through to advanced nurse practitioner roles in community, primary care, prisons or hospitals.

Nurses can become managers, matrons and lead nurses in various specialities, they can become lecturers at university, work in research or in GP federations.

Nurses can work all over the world (although being a nurse in Doncaster is obviously the best of course!). They can work on cruise ships, or even the armed forces.


Being a nurse comes with lots of benefits besides the flexible working hours and the great job satisfaction. Every day is different and you won’t get bored!

There’s also many other offers and discounts available for NHS staff including discounted gym memberships, study leave, childcare support, discounted mobile phones or car hire. There are even discounts on food, drink and eating out and more. You’ll meet so many new people and work with a wide range of other professions.

But the greatest benefit of all is seeing the impact you have on the lives of your patients and their families – nothing compares with this.

So take that chance, that opportunity to join one of the most valued and respected professions in the country – like me, you’ll never look back.

For more information, visit NHS Doncaster CCG website.

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