If you are thinking of becoming a health visitor, hopefully, you have found a lot of information on this website that has shown you the importance of health visitors in working with families and communities.
To become a health visitor, you need to be a qualified nurse or midwife and then undertake a one year (52 weeks) full-time or two years (104 weeks) part-time programme to qualify as a Specialist Community Public Health Nurse (Health Visitor).
You will find information about careers in health visiting and information on the recruitment process to programmes on the NHS Careers website.
All the educational programmes to prepare you to be a health visitor are also on the NMC website
Preparing to be a Health Visitor
Here we provide some useful web links and reading suggestions to familiarise yourself with policy affecting health visiting. This can make more sense if you have also sought out a practising health visitor to discuss the role in practice or even observe in practice. Throughout the UK the NMC (2004) Standards of Proficiency for Specialist Community Public Health Nurses (under revision) apply to all approved training programmes.
Recruitment to programmes of study to train is generally undertaken in partnership between universities and local employers who provide practice placements, so check websites and adverts. Generally, programmes are funded by the NHS which includes payment of student salary by the employer. An Apprenticeship scheme is likely to be applied to the funding of programmes in England from 2021 with some differences in funding, assessment and duration of the programme (typically 18 months).
Ensure you are up to date with guidelines and policies such as:
- Commissioning Guidance for Commissioning and the Healthy Child Programme
- The latest guidance replaces the 4-5-6 model of health visiting – what are the 4 service levels? What are the 5 mandated visits? What are the 6 high impact areas?
- Read the report of the Early Years Health Development Review led by Rt Hon Andrea Leadsom, MP, ‘The best start for life: a vision for the 1,001 critical days’
- NHS: Best Start in Life
- Health Matters: Giving every child the best start in life
- Read the iHV’s ‘Health Visiting in England: a Vision for the Future’
- Check out: https://www.careers.nhs.scot/careers/explore-our-careers/nursing/health-visitor/
- Be familiar with the Universal Health Visiting Pathway in Scotland: pre-birth to pre-school
- Explore the health visiting and school nursing pages of the Children and Young People’s Services Managed Knowledge Network (MKN).
- Check out: https://careerswales.gov.wales/job-information/health-visitor
- Careers Wales – Health Visitor
- HEIW guidance for SCPHN (including funding information)
- Be familiar with the Healthy Child Wales Programme
- First 1000 Days – Public Health Wales (the website is being updated at present, link unavailable)
- New Wales Safeguarding Procedures – also available in an App
- Once for Wales HEIW
- Wellbeing for Future Generations Act
- Children (Abolition of Defence of Reasonable Punishment) (Wales) Act
- Be familiar with the Healthy Child, Healthy Future framework for universal child health promotion
- Check the policy framework for health visiting services in Northern Ireland
- In Northern Ireland the SCPHN programme is provided by Ulster University
Personal and professional attributes of health visitors – what employers are looking for (DH 2012)
Be prepared to demonstrate that you are:
- Proactively interested in public health, prevention and early intervention
- Adaptable and influential
- Respectful of different values and take a holistic approach to care
- Supportive and have an adaptive communication style
- Insightful when communicating
- Able to engage others and build partnerships
- Able to demonstrate professionalism
Students accessing health visiting programmes must:
- Be a registered nurse or midwife. Registration as a nurse can be in any field of nursing (adult, child, learning disability and mental health)
- Complete an enhanced DBS check
- Have a first degree (Academic entry requirements do vary according to HEI but most require a first degree).
Career pipeline for health visiting:
The infographic shows current and potential career pathways into health visiting.
The iHV has recommended a fast-track health visitor (HV) training for graduates which includes a shortened pre-registration registered nurse (RN) training, followed by the specialist community public health nursing (SCPHN) HV training.
This option is currently being explored with higher education institutions (HEI) and, with the right agreements in place, this could enable a fast-track pathway for postgraduates to qualify as health visitors.
Possible interview questions:
- Why have you chosen to apply for a career in health visiting?
- What skills and/or qualities can you contribute?
- What are the commitments such a course involves?
- How do you think you will adapt to being a student and studying?
- In what ways do you consider yourself a professionally committed person?
- Can you tell us what you understand to be the role of the health visitor?
- What factors can you identify that may be impacting the way that services are delivered in the community?
- You arrive at a house to see a child and notice that the child has a slap mark injury to his / her face. Where are your responsibilities? To whom are you accountable and for what?
- What other services do health visitors work with?
- Can you talk about the role of the health visitor and safeguarding children?