How can nurses and carers progress their careers?

Michael Johnson-Ellis, one of the managing directors of Healthier Recruitment – an agency that fills vacancies for NHS, private and third sector healthcare organisations with permanent staff only – discusses career development…

With services under pressure, tighter budgets and a lack of staff and resources, many nurses and carers report feeling stunted with regard to professional development. However, there are a number of things you can do to progress your career regardless of the external situation.
Here are some potential pathways to development:

Setting Goals

Setting goals orients you towards a certain outcome. Scheduling time to sit down and think about your career, options and aspirations and setting a goal with a deadline when you do so is a great start towards development. Having a long term strategy, such as a five year plan, where you not only identify what you’d like be doing, but also the type of organisations you’d like to work for, will also help guide you towards your larger goals.


The importance of networking cannot be understated when trying to progress your career. There’s no holy grail when it comes to networking, but some examples are: Michael Johnson-Ellis of Healthier Recruitment on career progression for nurses

- Attending events, job fairs, and recruitment open days.
- Using LinkedIn and reaching out to fellow healthcare professionals.
- Joining professional networks.
- Speaking to colleagues, friends or family about potential opportunities.

For nurses, networking is also vital for completing revalidation. As 20 hours of your CPD must involve ‘participatory learning’, activities such as attending conferences can be instrumental in completing this. Furthermore, networking helps with other areas of revalidations, such as obtaining five pieces of ‘practice related feedback’ and reflective discussion.

The appraisal system

Put time aside in advance of your next appraisal and think about development opportunities you can discuss with your appraiser. You could do this three months ahead of your interview by drafting a Personal Development Plan (PDP). If you make it clear with your appraiser how you wish to develop, it will put you in good stead with those senior to you, making it more likely you’ll be considered for future opportunities when they arise. 

See what’s out there

Searching for vacancies on job websites or social media and signing up for job alerts from agencies and employers is an important step to take. Doing so will help you learn which roles are in demand, what the pay, hours and conditions are like, and the requirements that employers are looking for. Also, following potential employers on social media and keeping up to date with the latest news and developments will provide key information on opportunities and expand your market knowledge.

See for more details on CPD for nurses and carers.