Everything you need to know: the difference between nursing and midwifery

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Becoming a health professional is a huge commitment – that’s why it’s extremely important to choose the right course for you. If you have a very caring nature, a nursing or midwifery degree may seem like the ideal role for you. So how do you choose between them?

While a lot of your day to day duties may be the same, there are some key differences between nursing and midwifery. Here are the main ones:

The patients that you work with

One of the main differences between nurses and midwives is who they work with on a day to day basis. As you will already know, midwives work primarily with mums and babies before, during and after birth. While obstetric nurses may do this too, they tend to work with many other types of patients including the elderly, mental health patients, those with chronic illnesses and more. They may also see the general public in clinics or surgery settings. If you would prefer a lot of diversity in the types of patients you treat, nursing may be a great choice for you.

Your work location

Because they work with many different types of people, nurses tend to find themselves stationed in various working environments including walk-in clinics, hospitals, nursing homes and GP surgeries. You may even complete work on cruise ships or in the military! If you would rather see mums-to-be in the comfort of a hospital or in their own homes, then midwifery could suit you better.

Your qualification

Whether you choose to become a nurse or a midwife, you can expect to attend a mainstream university and enjoy all the usual benefits or being a student. Many universities will offer both midwifery and nursing courses, but some may only offer one, so it’s important to use a tool like Which? University to make sure you know all of your options.

Upon completion of their degree, both nurses and midwives are required to register with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) – this is a public database that keeps a record of your qualifications and whether you are currently practising.

Specialising

Nurses and midwives both have opportunities for specialising. Here are the sorts of things you may like to consider:

  • Nursing: child nursing, mental health nursing, geriatric nursing, sexual health nursing, IV nursing
  • Midwifery: teenage pregnancy, high-risk pregnancy, screening for abnormalities, bereavement, substance abuse

It’s perfectly fine to not know whether you would like to specialise at this stage. Many nurses and midwives don’t specialise until years after qualification – you may also complete placements during your training that open your eyes to parts of the job you particularly enjoy.

Seeing nurses and midwives at work is a crucial part of your health education – and our placements are a fantastic way of doing so without committing the time and money to a full degree. Get in touch to start your adventure!

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