Everyone, no matter what job they do, would love a promotion. Nurses are no different. However, it can be confusing for nurses to know what is needed to progress through the nursing bands.
To work as a nurse in the NHS you must hold an approved degree in nursing which allows you to register with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC). You can start your career at various levels and be assured of practical and possibly financial support as you progress.
This article demonstrates how to kick-start your career in healthcare and progress to the level of a newly qualified or entry-level nurse at band five on the NHS pay scale. We also share our top tips to help you get promoted through the NHS nursing bands.
Kick-start your nursing career through the NHS pay bands
Nurses form the largest group of staff in the NHS and are a crucial part of the not just the healthcare team, but the entire country. Some nurses begin their career in support roles which require no set of qualifications to begin with, and then go on to do a registered nursing degree which qualifies them to work as a nurse. Others apply to university to undertake their studies.
Whatever route you take, you’ll need a degree in nursing to become a nurse. Fortunately, the NHS will support you financially during your training.
Once you have a degree there are many different levels at which you can start your career. Below are just some of the opportunities available to you as you look to kick-start your career as a newly qualified nurse:
- Work placements and volunteering
- Healthcare Assistant
- Cadet schemes and apprenticeships
- Professional training
- Full-time degree
- Part-time degrees
- Foundation degree
- Accelerated diplomas
Nursing bands explained
Transitioning from a student to newly qualified nurse at band 5
Upon completing your nursing qualification you will need to take steps to register with the regulatory body for the nursing profession you have chosen to pursue. Newly qualified nurses will typically start at band five, where they are often trained by experienced members of staff in what is known as a preceptorship. In most cases you will have a named mentor that will be your first point of contact for support and honest feedback on both your progress and areas for improvement.
What will be expected:
- In a busy environment being organised is very important. You'll need to prioritise what you need to do at the start of each shift.
- Clinical judgement and decision-making will take time and confidence. Admit to mistakes and reflect on how you could do better next time - always remember that patient safety comes first.
- You must work within the limits of your competence.
- If you did something a certain way make sure you can refer to the guidelines you followed. These may be legal, Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) guidelines on medicine management or evidence-based guidance on the treatment and management of conditions, or local trust/employer procedures.
- Unlike the structured learning of your course, the responsibility for your continuing professional development (CPD) is yours. Always keep your e-portfolio up to date.
It takes on average 18 months for a nurse to amass the necessary job experience to be considered for a band six position.
During this time, nurses must prove they are capable of safely practicing the extra senior duties necessary to thrive in the role. These include taking bloods from patients of all ages and carrying out, monitoring and translating ECGs.
You should attend and complete (or at least be in the process of finishing), a series of courses designed to expand your medical knowledge. There are a vast number of subjects available to study but every nurse is advised to concentrate on the following:
- Myocardial Infarction (Heart attacks)
- CVA (Strokes)
- COPD (Emphysema and chronic bronchitis)
Unfortunately, not all of these courses are free to enrol in. Although your trust will entirely fund your entry to some of the essential courses, you may be required to pay for other training programs. Costs range between £800 to the lower thousands.
The speed at which you take these courses will directly correlate to the speed of your career progression.
NHS banding 7 to 8
To progress to bands seven and eight, nurses must demonstrate the ability to manage a team of varying numbers as well as exhibit a grasp on finance.
Ward managers at 'B7' must learn and master the running costs of maintaining a ward’s functionality. Matrons at 'B8' are granted overall control over three to four individual wards or units and are responsible for delegating to individual managers their budgets and objectives.
To advance your chances of reaching these senior and managerial positions, offer to take on every position of responsibility you are confident in doing. Take the chance of being a linked nurse for a specific role e.g. incontinence when you can. This will provide you with vital expertise in how to succeed in positions of trust and improve your communication skills.
Taking on a new role or responsibility will always give you new skills and experience, plus more information about the company and a bigger network of colleagues who will vouch for your willingness to progress.
Are you looking to further your career as a nurse?
Search Nursing specialises in not only sourcing and filling nursing jobs but also guiding our workers through their nursing careers. If you have any questions regarding progressing through the NHS bands, please contact a member of recruitment team today.