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Nursing and Midwifery

People come to Nursing and Midwifery from all walks and stages of life and from many different cultural and ethnic backgrounds.

Nurses and Midwives have a vital role in helping patients understand information about their diagnoses and treatment. They also respond to each patient’s physical, clinical and emotional needs.

The key role of a Nurse or a Midwife is to deliver person-centred, safe and effective care.


Adult Nurses

In NHS Scotland, Adult Nurses work in a variety of healthcare settings with patients aged over 16 and their families. Adult Nurses help people to cope with all aspects of illness, treatment and recovery by assessing their needs, devising care plans and monitoring progress during treatment.

Adult Nurses have a vital role in helping patients and their families understand information about their diagnoses, treatment, and health more generally. They must also learn how to respond to each patient’s physical, clinical and emotional needs. Person-centred, safe and effective care is at the core of this role.

Adult Nurses can work in hospital wards, clinics, GP surgeries, in people's homes, as NHS24 Nurse Advisors, in the military, in workplaces, and in research or education.

Most Adult Nurses are at the centre of a multi-disciplinary team and will be educated to carry out different types of clinical procedures. As an Adult Nurse, you will learn to:

  • undertake physical examinations and clinical assessments
  • observe and record the clinical condition of patients
  • give medications and injections
  • respond quickly to emergencies
  • act as an advocate for patients and their families.
  • support people with their wider nutritional, physical, hygiene and emotional needs

Depending upon the focus of your role, you may go on to develop a number of specific skills in surgical and medical care, or perhaps develop a focus on community or palliative care.

Some Nurses also work in the community with non-healthcare professionals, such as Social Workers and Carers to help patients manage their long-term care needs at home.


Children's Nurse

A career as a Children’s Nurse could be perfect for you if you have experience of working with and enjoy caring for children and young people.

In NHS Scotland, registered Children’s Nurses can work in a diverse range of settings within a health and social care environment. This includes opportunities within hospitals (including neonatal units), the community, schools, and clinics.

Children’s Nurses care for patients ranging from newborn babies to adolescents up to the age of 16 and occasionally young people up to the age of 21 years old, who have a wide range of long-term conditions. They work closely with parents and carers, supporting them in a variety of situations.

Children’s Nursing can be both hugely rewarding but also emotionally challenging. Children’s Nurses provide comfort and reassurance to children, young people and their families in difficult or stressful circumstances.

The needs of babies, children, and young people are different than adults. Children’s Nurses, therefore, need specialist knowledge, skills and experience in order to care for children, young people and their families. You will become confident and competent in the care of children and young people requiring healthcare interventions within a variety of exciting, challenging and stimulating environments.

The ability to communicate well with children and young people is an essential part of the Nurse’s role.  Children’s Nurses work as part of a multi-disciplinary team, with Doctors, other Nurses and Allied Health Professionals, non-clinical professionals, Social Workers, Voluntary Sector Workers and those who help care for patients at home.


Learning Disabilities Nurse

Learning Disability Nurses work in partnership with people of all ages to help them lead active, independent and healthier lives.

Learning Disability Nurses aim to improve the well-being and social inclusion of people in their care. This is achieved by:

  • improving or maintaining their physical and mental health
  • reducing barriers and challenging discriminatory attitudes
  • supporting them to pursue a fulfilling life.

Working alongside Carers, Social Workers, Psychologists, Speech and Language Therapists, Teachers and GP Doctors, Learning Disability Nurses help people overcome problem areas and stay healthy.


Mental Health Nurse

Mental Health Nurses work alongside patients to improve their wellbeing and recovery from mental health problems.

Mental Health Nurses work in the community, and specialist mental health hospitals and units. Often, they work with people over long periods, providing therapies, helping people understand the nature of their illness, how to stay well and how to cope in a crisis. 

Being able to understand things from each person’s point of view is a key skill, no matter what their background, or the problems they face. This includes being aware of and being able to challenge stigma and discrimination, as this can affect people and hinder their recovery from mental illness.

Mental Health Nurses deliver a range of different therapies to support patient recovery and help them stay well. They work along with other nursing staff, Psychiatrists, Psychologists, GP Doctors, Social Care staff as well as family members and Carers.


Health Visitor

Health Visitors are healthcare specialists who make a significant contribution to the health and wellbeing of children and families. They work in the community providing a proactive and universal service to families with young children.

They visit families with young children in their own home with the aim of supporting and empowering families to promote health and wellbeing, so they can give their children the best possible start in life, and to tackle health inequalities and deprivation that leads to children and families becoming vulnerable and at-risk.

Health Visitors visit families in their own home and provide information, health advice and support to facilitate and empower parents to care for their children. Health visiting practice in Scotland is based on the following underlying principles that are reflected in the Universal Health Visiting Pathway:

  • Promoting, supporting and safeguarding the well-being of children
  • Person-centeredness
  • Building strong relationships with families from early in their pregnancy journey
  • Offering support during the early weeks of parenthood and planning future contacts with families
  • Harnessing family strengths, while assessing and respectfully responding to their needs

Although the focus of health visiting is on young children in their pre-school years, the relationship the health visitor has with the parents, and the whole family is a unique and important aspect of health visiting practice. Consequently, health visitors require highly developed communication skills to effectively engage with families to discover and build on their strengths, as well as empower them to share their concerns and health needs in a safe and supportive environment, and using strength-based approaches.

Health Visitors work with a range of health and social care practitioners including Community Nursing Staff, School Nurses, Nursery Nurses, General Practitioners, Social Workers, Speech and Language Therapists and other Allied Health Professionals, and colleagues in third sector organisations.

The role of the Health Visitor includes:

  • Supporting and empowering parents
  • Assessing family health and well-being
  • Assessing development in children
  • Identifying vulnerability and risk factors
  • Supporting parents and carers with physical and mental health challenges
  • Promoting, supporting and safeguarding the well-being of children
  • Offering emotional support regarding issues such as postnatal depression, domestic violence, loss, and grief
  • Understanding local public health issues
  • Providing information on local services
  • Providing evidence-based advice to empower parents to give their children the best possible start in life
  • Supporting national public health initiatives such as tackling child poverty, and obesity
  • The role of Named Person in accordance with the requirement of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014



Midwives are the lead healthcare professionals for women, taking care of their welfare during pregnancy, labour and into the early postnatal period.

In straightforward pregnancies, Midwives are responsible for planning, managing and delivering care. If a woman has a complicated pregnancy, or experiences a miscarriage or stillbirth, Midwives take on the role of care coordinator, ensuring she receives the necessary support from the appropriate health and social care services.

Registered Midwives work on antenatal, labour and postnatal wards as well as in neonatal units. They also work in the community, within GP surgeries or local clinics, provide care at home, or in midwife-led units providing antenatal, labour and postnatal care to women and their newborns.

Midwives help women and their families learn about pregnancy and the processes of childbirth, explaining what will happen and discussing any choices that need to be made. Ensuring a positive experience for mothers and their babies is one of the most important aspects of the job. As experts in childbirth, the role of a Midwife can be demanding and carries plenty of responsibility.

The duties of a Midwife typically include:

  • giving pregnant women advice on lifestyle choices, such as healthy eating or smoking cessation
  • planning, implementing and evaluating Midwifery care during pregnancy and childbirth
  • running antenatal classes
  • monitoring the baby during labour and birth
  • providing postnatal care for women and newborns


Healthcare Support Worker

In NHSScotland, Nursing Support Workers will provide care and treatment to people as part of the wider nursing team and can work in a variety of settings including hospitals, clinics, GP practices and patients' homes.

Working closely with the nursing team, you will be trained to monitor patient’s health and well-being through observations and recording in the patient’s records. You will communicate with other professionals, patient’s families and carers to make sure their care is joined up and reflects what matters to them as individuals.

You will support people with personal care and daily living tasks, for example helping people to wash, dress and making sure they are eating and drinking well. Responding to people as individuals and ensuring care is safe, effective and person-centred are key skills in this role.


Maternity Support Worker

Maternity Support Workers (MSWs) help midwives to care for mothers, their babies and families before, during and after childbirth.

Working under the supervision of a midwife, MSWs help ensure the best level of maternity care is provided by following instructions and procedures. MSWs assist with straight forward labour and births, but must also be able to cope with unpredictable or emergency situations.

As part of a team, Maternity Support Workers (MSWs) may work in midwifery led units, delivery suites, post natal wards and within the community. MSWs provide information, guidance, reassurance and assistance to mothers and newborns, ensuring that they receive appropriate, safe and high quality maternity care.

MSWs must have excellent communication skills and be able to work with people with different backgrounds and lifestyles. Typical duties include:

  • helping to deliver care plans
  • educating parents
  • supporting families
  • helping with parenting classes
  • keeping records up to date
  • taking blood samples
  • preparing equipment
Last Updated: 10 July 2018