Health Visitor

The Job and What's Involved

Health visitors are experienced and qualified registered nurses or midwives who work to promote good health and prevent illness in the community. They spend most of their day visiting people in their homes, especially new mothers and children aged under five.

As a health visitor you would provide information, practical care and support to help your clients cope with the difficulties they are experiencing. You would work with a broad section of people in the community and your duties would often include:

  • Advising older people on health related questions.
  • Giving advice to new mothers on issues such as hygiene, safety, feeding and sleeping.
  • Counselling people on issues such as post-natal depression, bereavement, or being diagnosed HIV positive.
  • Coordinating child immunisation programmes.
  • Organising special clinics or drop-in centres.

You would work closely with other agencies, such as social services and local housing departments.

You would typically work 37.5 hours a week, Monday to Friday. However, some evening work may be necessary to run clinics and drop-in centres. Part-time and flexible working hours are often available.

You would usually cover the geographical area of a GP practice and spend most of your time visiting clients in their own home. As part of your role, you may also run group support sessions in surgeries and health centres.

Health visitors can earn between £24,800 and £33,500 a year. Team managers can earn up to £39,300.

Extra allowances may be awarded for additional responsibilities, location and length of service.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

You will usually need around two years' experience as a qualified midwife or nurse (any branch) before you can begin an approved health visitor training programme and work as a health visitor.

To qualify as a registered nurse or midwife you need to complete a Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) approved degree or Diploma of Higher Education. For more information on routes into nursing and midwifery, check the relevant job guides.

Education and Training

Training as a health visitor involves taking a (shortened) degree or postgraduate course leading to registered specialist community public health nurse (health visiting).

Courses are run on a one-year full-time or two years part-time basis. You will find a list of approved programmes on the NMC website.

As a qualified nurse or midwife in the NHS, your employer may financially support you through your health visitor training. You can get more information about funding from the Community Practitioners and Health Visitors Association (CPHVA), your employer or the Health Learning And Skills Advice Line.

During training you will cover topics such as:

- Community Practice
- Public Health
- Health Promotion
- Counselling
- Social Policy

You will also spend time on placements in the community, working under the supervision of an experienced health visitor.

You will usually need a driving licence to work as a health visitor.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

As a qualified health visitor, you would need to keep your skills up to date and continue to develop your level of expertise in order to maintain your professional registration.

If you have had a break from working as a nurse and your registration has lapsed you will need to take a return-to-practice course. Courses are available throughout the UK and include a mixture of theory and clinical placements. You can contact your local NHS Trust for details, or search the NMC website for a list of approved programmes.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

A health visitor needs:

  • The ability to relate to people of all ages and backgrounds.
  • A keen interest in health and social issues.
  • Excellent communication and listening skills.
  • Tact, patience and persuasiveness.
  • The ability to interpret body language and other non-verbal communication.
  • A good understanding of child protection issues.
  • A responsible attitude to your work.
  • Good time management skills.
  • The ability to work on your own initiative.
  • Emotional resilience to deal with distressing issues.

Your Long Term Prospects

With experience you could progress to team manager, community matron or a management role within another department of the NHS.

You could also go into nurse education and training.

Get Further Information

Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC)
23 Portland Place, London W1B 1PZ
Tel: 020 7333 9333
Website: www.nmc-uk.org

NHS Careers, PO Box 376, Bristol BS99 3EY
Tel: 0345 60 60 655
Website: www.nhscareers.nhs.uk

Queens University of Belfast,
School of Nursing and Midwifery,
Medical Biology Centre, 97 Lisburn Road,
Belfast BT9 7BL
Tel: 028 9097 2233
Website: www.qub.ac.uk

University of Ulster at Jordanstown,
School of Nursing, Shore Road,
Newtownabbey, Co. Antrim BT37 0QB
Tel: 08700 400 700
Website: www.ulster.ac.uk

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