To become a health visitor, you need to be a registered nurse or midwife committed to training and qualification as a specialist community public health nurse (SCPHN).
You will be passionate about healthy lifestyles and preventing illness and motivated to work with families in giving our youngest people the best start to life.
Public health training allows you to assess the health needs of individuals, families and the wider community.
When qualified, you will work mostly with children from birth to five years. You could also work with deprived groups such as people experiencing homelessness, addicts or travellers.
In studying here at City, University of London you acquire modern knowledge about evidence-based practice and research for leading public health initiatives. Our experts equip you with the skills to address care at individual, community and population level.
What can I expect from a career as a health visitor?
As a health visitor you will have the daily responsibility for giving children a healthy foundation for life. Together with parents it will be your job to assess the family and home situation, parenting skills and the needs of young children.
You might decide with parents upon more support and arrange to meet them in their home, at a clinic or in a community setting.
Your colleagues will include professionals such as community nursing staff, school nurses, nursery nurses, general practitioners and social workers.
There can be occasional specialist elements to your work, but common health visitor duties will involve:
- Antenatal and postnatal support
- Supporting parents in raising young children
- Providing advice on feeding babies and children
- Assessing child growth and development needs
- Supporting children with special needs
- Advising on behaviour management
- Advising how to prevent accidents and reduce injuries.
You are trained to identify risk factors, triggers of concern, signs of abuse and neglect in children. As a health visitor, you are often the first to know if a child is at risk and know whether action needs to be taken. You have a vital role in working with other organisations to safeguard and protect children.
In cases of risk, neglect or abuse, the work of a health visitor can be stressful and involve major challenges. There may be a risk to your own personal safety at times.
Related courses at City
Whatever your level of interest in becoming a health visitor, City's courses can help you take one step closer to a career as a health visitor, develop specialisms that'll set you apart from the field or broaden your horizons with study in related subjects.
Who can I work for as a health visitor?
Here in the UK health visitors are usually employed by the National Health Service (NHS) or within local authorities.
You may work in various settings depending on the nature of your work. These include family homes, general practitioner surgeries, community clinics and Sure Start centres.
Some regions operate a ‘staff bank’ which provides cover for vacancies and you might also find work through specialist nursing agencies.
What about work experience as a health visitor?
Your current experience, skills and knowledge gained as a nurse or midwife will be the most relevant and applicable to this role.
But if you have additional experience that clearly demonstrates your commitment to working in the community, that will also be helpful.
What are my prospects as a health visitor?
Health visitors tend to stay in an active frontline role over the course of their career, because the nature of the work can command true dedication. However, other career options are open to you.
If you decide you want team manager or community matron responsibilities, you will accept the management and clinical supervision of health visitor teams and other community staff. This would usually require you to have relevant experience and education.
You might also become a specialist health visitor and work with communities or individuals with very specific health and social needs. This would demand greater collaboration with other agencies.
Later career options could include a move towards clinical governance roles or training the next generation of health visitors.