As a healthcare professional, your training consists of a lot of unsociable hours. Working in a hospital requires you to generally work long shifts, or a mixture of early and late shifts, starting as early as 07:00 and finishing as late as 21:00. The NHS is a 24/7 service, meaning that weekends and bank holidays are the same as any weekday. People still need to be looked after whatever the day or time, which means you’ll be expected to work whenever you’re needed. Although shift work can have its benefits, such as more days off than a standard 2-day weekend, it can also be a challenge. Working an unpredictable shift pattern can mean that you miss out on social events, quality time with family and friends and can really take a toll on your mental and physical health. Everybody is different, and I know some people that thrive on working nights with lots of days off in-between, and some people who really struggle with not having a set shift pattern, or switching between night and day body clocks.
The idea of working shifts can be quite daunting for some people, and could even put you off training to be a healthcare professional. However, although your training will require you to work shifts, once you qualify there are actually lots of different areas you can work in which can give you more sociable hours, which may fit in better with your family and personal life. Here are a few suggestions that are worth looking into if you’re thinking that shift work may not be for you.
Clinics generally run between 9-5, Monday – Friday. These could be run out of a hospital or a GP surgery. Clinics could be run by doctors, midwives, nurses and other healthcare professionals, and normally additionally require support staff such as administrative staff and healthcare assistants. Working in clinics can be less stressful than the busy environment on a ward, but you could be expected to see a large number of patients and have limited time slots. Examples of clinics are antenatal clinics, sexual health clinics and specialist consultant clinics.
Working in the community is normally a 9-5 job. As a district nurse or midwife, you may work out of clinics in GP surgeries, hospitals and children and family centres, as well as visiting patients in their homes. Community work can be very satisfying as you may be seeing the same patients multiple times over long periods. This means you can provide continuity of care, and can build up relationships with the people you’re visiting. You generally work independently in the community, meaning that you have to be confident in your clinical skills and judgment. Some job roles may require you to be a Band 6 before going out into the community, to ensure that you’re able to work autonomously.
If you are a qualified nurse or midwife, you can apply to do an extra year of training to be a health visitor. Health visitors work out of children and family centres and visit women and children at home. They provide care and advice on parenting and child growth and development from birth to five years old. Health visiting is an important service and health visitors are also involved in the safeguarding and protection of vulnerable children and families.
A qualified nurse can train for an extra year to be a specialist community public health nurse, and specialize in working in schools. School nurses work Monday – Friday 9-5 hours, and generally during term times. Their job role is to promote and ensure the health and well being of school age children and their families. This includes carrying out health assessments, healthy eating advice and running immunization clinics. School nurses are normally linked to a school or group of schools, and may be required to also work out of healthcare centres and GP surgeries.
Elective surgery is another word for a planned operation. Working within the area of elective surgery means you will be working generally around 9-5 hours, as you will be caring for people who are having planned operations, booked into a set time slot on a set day. These types of surgeries may be run in smaller hospitals as well as large general hospitals. Elective surgery patients can be sometime sent home on the same day as surgery, or within the following 24 hours. This area of healthcare needs administrative staff, staff nurses, theatre nurses, surgeons, recovery nurses/ODPs and healthcare assistants. It is a rare area of healthcare that requires a high level of clinical skills needed for pre/post operative care and surgical care in theatre, but only within a 9-5 Monday-Friday shift pattern.
This list is not exhaustive; as there are many specialist roles and areas you can work within as a healthcare professional during sociable hours. The pay may be slightly less than shift work, due to not receiving enhancements for night and weekend pay. Some people decide to counteract this with additional bank shifts, or working a combined shift pattern of 9-5 and 12.5-hour shifts. If your shifts are not fitting in with your lifestyle, this doesn’t mean you need to give up your job in healthcare, or consider not working in a healthcare role at all. People are generally surprised that they can work flexibly in the NHS, but it is possible with management support and finding the right job role for you.
Love Lottie x
If you’re interested in the above roles, you can find plenty of open positions at jobmedic.co.uk!