Nursing in a care environment vs a healthcare setting: what’s the difference?

Nursing is one of the most challenging careers in the adult care sector and it comes with a lot of responsibility.

There are many different ways to develop your career as a nurse based on whether you work in a hospital or care home. From the daily responsibilities you have to the relationships you form with your patients and colleagues, each option comes with its own benefits and rewards.

Whether you are a nurse at the beginning of your career or a more seasoned professional, this post will explore the difference between working in a healthcare environment and a care home, so you have a better idea of what to expect.

Working in a healthcare setting 

Nursing in a healthcare setting is an exciting challenge, which is ideal if you like having your skills and knowledge tested from day to day.

The large amount of patients coming through a hospital’s doors can give you first hand experience with different medical conditions and emergencies. While on shift, you’ll learn from – and work with – a range of healthcare professionals, like doctors, specialists and surgeons.

As you go along, you’ll probably find topics that really interest you, which could lead you to specialise in a particular department and move forward in your career. Specialising can lead to promotion, too.

But what if you feel out of your depth? In that case, you’ll find a range of other professionals to guide you, giving you the support that you need to keep your skillset sharp.

Is a healthcare environment right for you?

A busy hospital’s fast-paced environment can help you develop and grow as a healthcare professional. With something always happening, there’s no time to relax, so this is the perfect environment to choose if you find it exciting to work under pressure.

Plus, you’ll also have access to cutting-edge equipment to improve patient care and make your working day run more smoothly.

Gaining experience quickly

Nurses working in healthcare settings meet lots of different patients every day, so they can gain experience quite quickly. So if you’re a newly qualified nurse, working in a hospital setting could help you find your feet and build confidence.

Even though the time they spend with patients is typically less than if they were in a residential setting, nurses working in hospitals and medical centres can still build positive relationships and create a lasting impact through their kindness, understanding, professionalism and making people feel heard.

Working in a residential setting

Residential settings, like care homes, typically take a holistic approach to care, which means looking at the person as a whole: physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

Because of this, residential nurses need to develop skills that prioritise mental health support, social interaction and quality of life. More often than not, this extends to end-of-life care, and offering care and support not only to patients, but also to their families.

Is a residential setting right for you?

In a residential setting, the pace is usually slower than it is in a busy hospital environment. Instead of handling emergencies, you’ll develop bonds with residents, help draft care plans and stick to routines.

Still, there’s room for innovation. If you work in a memory care unit, for example, you’ll stay familiar with the latest approaches to dementia care to improve residents’ quality of life.

Building meaningful relationships 

One major advantage of working in a residential environment is that you can build long-term relationships with residents and their families.

It’s important to remember that forming close relationships with residents can make it emotionally difficult when they experience significant health issues or pass away. However, many nurses find it deeply meaningful to offer compassionate care during residents’ times of need.

In terms of personal development, working in a residential setting can provide unique opportunities for growth, allowing many nurses to specialise in conditions like dementia or Parkinson’s disease.

Choosing the right pathway for you

With all of the above in mind, we encourage you to think about the values that are most important to you as a nurse. Are you drawn to the fast-paced nature of hospitals or the long-term relationships and holistic approach taken in care homes?

Let’s summarise the benefits of each scenario.

Working in a healthcare setting:

  • An exciting, fast-paced environment.
  • The opportunity to gain experience and learn new skills by working with a range of cases and treatments.
  • The chance to work alongside a range of professionals, helping to support career growth.
  • Increased opportunity to specialise in a particular department.
  • Cutting-edge technology and equipment to support diagnosis and treatment.

Working in a residential care environment:

  • Regular shifts, creating a better work-life balance.
  • A larger focus on holistic care with the chance to create personalised care plans.
  • The opportunity to build long term relationships with your patients and their families.
  • The chance to specialise in unique conditions such as dementia or Parkinson’s disease.
  • Emotional fulfilment, particularly when supporting patients and their families during difficult times.

Finding a better work-life balance

Whether you work in a hospital or a care home, shifts that suit your schedule can make it easier to strike the right work-life balance. That’s where Florence comes in.

With Florence, you can:

  • Choose your own shifts in a range of health and social care settings (including NHS trusts).
  • Find excellent rates of pay.
  • Get help from a friendly team via chat, phone or email.
  • Check in and out with the simple, hassle-free Florence app.
  • Use Instant Pay to get up to 60% of your pay as soon as your timesheet is approved (for a small fee).

Everyone deserves the best care

At Florence, we believe everyone deserves dignified, high-quality care. No matter which career pathway you choose, we’re on hand to help put health and social care in the spotlight, highlight career opportunities and put the right people in the right roles across the sector.

Florence can help you find flexible shifts near you, take essential training courses and improve your work-life balance. Find out more and sign up today.

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