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Children's nursing or primary teaching? watch

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    Hello, I'm planning to have a career change from marketing to children's nursing or primary teaching but I'm being really indecisive and can't make up my mind!

    I have work experience on a children's ward and in a primary school. Both appeal to me as I'd love to make a difference to children's lives. I'm 30 years old and planning to start a family soon so I'm now trying to decide based on practicalities.

    For children's nursing I'd need to do a postgrad diploma (2 years) and for primary teaching I'd need to do a PGCE (1 year). I think children's nurses and teachers have similar salaries.

    I'm more interested in children's nursing but teaching is much more family friendly as the hours aren't unsocial! With children's nursing I think I'll love the job but hate working nights and weekends. I'm happy with all areas in my life apart from my career. I worry that if I pick children's nursing it will fix the career problem but then I'll miss doing things I enjoy such as spending time with my boyfriend. With primary teaching I think I'll have a better work/life balance but not sure whether I'll love the job.

    Any advice would be really appreciated!
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    Teachers don't have such unsocial hours, but they do have a lot of prep time outside the classroom and teaching can be just as stressful as nursing in its own way, so I wouldn't base your decision on such practicalities. Both are demanding careers and it's easier to manage stress when you love what you do.

    At the hospital where I work, there is a dedicated night staff, and day nurses are required to rotate to nights only on an occasional basis. I think the policy varies from place to place, but you might not end up with nights as a regular thing if you don't want them. Weekend working is more likely to happen, in my experience, but which would you prefer - to spend some Sundays on a children's hospital ward, or to spend them planning lessons for the next day? I have a few teacher friends and they almost all end up doing some preparation on weekends! There is also the option of part-time work if you need more time with family.

    One other idea that popped into my head is teaching in a hospital school. The ward where I work is a children's ward and we employ two teachers. I think they might have had to do additional training in special needs before working with us, but I'm not sure. A hospital school or a special school catering to children with physical health issues might interest you, but such jobs obviously aren't that common, and you'd almost certainly end up working in a mainstream school for a while before you could get one.
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    Thanks for your reply opalescent! That's really helpful.

    The problem is I won't know what I love until I try it. I worked on a children's ward for a day and in a primary school for a week to gain experience but it's not enough to help me make up my mind. I've always had trouble with decision making and once I make a decision I think the other option would have been better!

    I think I'd get more of a buzz from nursing and be really proud to say I'm a nurse - but don't know whether that's a good reason to pick it! I know I would hate working when everyone else is off.

    Your hospital sounds flexible. Are you a children's nurse? How long have you been doing it for and do you enjoy it? What hours do you do and what's an average day like?

    I know teachers have lots of lesson planning and marking as I have lots of friends who are primary teachers. Most of them manage their time really well and love their jobs. The hours don't bother me at all as I don't mind working from home in my evenings and weekends - my boyfriend will still be there most of the time so I won't miss him.
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    I'm a healthcare assistant (HCA) and I'm planning to become a speech and language therapist. I work in a children's mental health ward. Almost all our nurses are RMNs but there are a couple who are dual-qualified children's or general nurses. Have you thought about applying for HCA roles to help you make up your mind? It's not uncommon to work as a HCA before progressing to nursing training. You work under the supervision of the nurses, you're involved in lots of 1:1 patient care, and you get a real flavour for what they do. Bank HCA work is not that difficult to get if you need to keep your current job.

    If this isn't possible, remember that almost any career choice will involve a leap of faith and trust. You can research it all you like, but you can't guarantee 100% that you'll enjoy it until you're there. You just have to make the best informed decision you can with the information you have.

    I don't think wanting to take pride in your profession is a bad reason to become a nurse, if you have good reasons to be proud of it - because you know you can make a difference for people at some of the lowest points in their lives, because you're part of a healthcare system that's free at the point of access, for example. If you're proud of how good you look in a uniform, then maybe not, but I'm guessing you have good reasons. :P

    In answer to your question about a typical day, I work three days a week, but they're long days - I start at seven in the morning and go until nine at night. The days I work change from week to week. A lot of the full-time nurses are on a similar pattern, although some of them will do two half days instead of one long day. It's mainly the part-time nurses who do that, though.

    A typical day begins with handover, when we meet with the night nurses and hear how the kids have been overnight - mood, behaviour, sleep, what they've eaten, meds they've had, any physical health concerns. The HCAs then start doing observations of the children. As all the kids on our ward are at high risk for suicide and self-harm, we check them at least once every five minutes and some have to be in sight at all times. Nurses sort out the morning medication and do physical health checks (blood pressure, temperature, blood sugars where needed). They interact with the kids a lot, playing games, talking, keeping them occupied, etc. If a child has self-harmed, the nurses are responsible for wound care and deciding if a trip to A&E is needed. Each child has a named nurse/keyworker, and this nurse will have a 1:1 session with them a couple of times a week to assess how things are going. There is a lot of assessment that nurses have to do - writing reports on a child's state of health, their risk, and other things. They need to be sharp observers. They attend multidisciplinary meetings to discuss the children's care and keep the consultant posted on how the kids are doing from day to day, as the consultant isn't in every day and doesn't spend nearly as much time with the patients. In a ward for children who are physically ill, some things will be different, but there are similarities. The day ends with the nurses handing over to the night staff.
 
 
 
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