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Children's nursing or primary teaching?

(22 Posts)
Lilly2014 Wed 02-Mar-16 22:33:44

Hello, I'm planning to have a career change from marketing to children's nursing or primary teaching but I'm being really indecisive and can't make up my mind!

I have work experience on a children's ward and in a primary school. Both appeal to me as I'd love to make a difference to children's lives. I'm 30 years old and planning to start a family soon so I'm now trying to decide based on practicalities.

For children's nursing I'd need to do a postgrad diploma (2 years) and for primary teaching I'd need to do a PGCE (1 year). I think children's nurses and teachers have similar salaries.

I'm more interested in children's nursing but teaching is much more family friendly as the hours aren't unsocial! With children's nursing I think I'll love the job but hate working nights and weekends. I'm happy with all areas in my life apart from my career. I worry that if I pick children's nursing it will fix the career problem but then I'll miss doing things I enjoy such as spending time with my boyfriend. With primary teaching I think I'll have a better work/life balance but not sure whether I'll love the job.

Any advice would be really appreciated!

lougle Wed 02-Mar-16 22:44:47

They're very different jobs! I think you need to think about your personality. Do you enjoy continuing care (if so teaching might be good) or do you prefer to have short but intense interaction with children and their families? (In which case nursing might be good).

Basically, you need to compare and contrast the roles. Also, the route to higher pay is smoother in teaching.

cheapandcheerful Wed 02-Mar-16 22:59:16

You think that primary teaching doesn't have anti-social hours????!

If you become a primary school teacher you will have no life and will barely see your family.

I'm sure all the other primary teachers will be along in a minute to tell you the same...

KyloRenNeedsTherapy Wed 02-Mar-16 23:05:08

Lol cheap! Was just going to say the same. I worked every weekend as a primary teacher - the hours are shit. I'm sure they are in nursing too but don't be fooled into believing the "teachers work 9-3 shit" that so many people think blush.

I'm a teacher and love it - come from a family of nurses who also love their jobs!

G1raffe Wed 02-Mar-16 23:08:09

I'm not sure primary teaching and work-life balance go together...

G1raffe Wed 02-Mar-16 23:09:43

Is it Louge? Isn't that only if you want to be a deputy/Head.

I thought in nursing there was advanced practicioners/heath visitors and various other pathways for specialising etc?

ggirl Wed 02-Mar-16 23:11:10

the pros of nursing are that the role is so diverse. You can work in acute hospitals , in GP surgery , clinics, school health teams, specialist nursing areas ,so if you try ward nursing and the hrs don't suit there are alternatives.

cons are ,night duty in some areas, shift work , stress etc but same as any job

don't know anything about teaching

PurpleDaisies Wed 02-Mar-16 23:12:11

With primary teaching I think I'll have a better work/life balance

Are you kidding!?! Have you read any of the threads on the staff room section on here? If you're doing it for a nice life it absolutely isn't for you.

dontpokethebear Wed 02-Mar-16 23:18:06

Up until I had dc3 I was a practice nurse. Slightly more school/child friendly hours but lots of red tape, targets and paper work (which unlike teaching, you don't have to take home).
As for children's nursing, you need a heart of steel as it can be quite hard to leave emotions etc at work sad
I know several primary teachers and the job definitely doesn't finish when school does.

NurseRosie Wed 02-Mar-16 23:54:50

Well, I am a nurse and my Mum was a teacher. Both are very challenging careers.
Nursing: very unsociable, long hours. Could you deal with a terminally ill child? Could you handle the death of a child? Could you handle the safe guarding of child abuse (could be in teaching too though)? People think community based is more family friendly but my colleagues work lots of overtime and work at home and cover 24 hours now. It is very rewarding but hard to cut off at the end of a shift. Short relationships due to quick turnover of caseload/beds. Does anyone really want to get involved in the NHS right now? Nurses are great supports and friends though. I love it and feel like it's the best job in the world but stressful. Many paths to take and future opportunities, nurses are doing more and more nowadays.
Teaching: again lots of work out of hours, lots of planning, marking and reports, a lot of which you don't get time for. Long term relationship building is nice. Instant gratification. Could you cope with a poorly behaved child? Can you deal with the school politics and parents? Quicker training more intense? It's a lot more than just teaching a class 9-3, there's inspections, meetings, extra curricular classes to take, trips. The expectations are high. You are responsible for 30 children at a time, their well being, future, education, safety, happiness.
I hope this has given you a bit more to consider, both good and bad. You are brave but I think wonderful for wanting to shake the lives of children. Good luck with whatever you decide.

BackforGood Thu 03-Mar-16 00:05:28

^ but teaching is much more family friendly as the hours aren't unsocial!^

Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha

TheBalefulGroke Thu 03-Mar-16 00:12:29

What did you work as in that primary school?
Perhaps read the staff room topic?

EuropeanSpoon Thu 03-Mar-16 00:25:06

Nursing will involve shift work for at least some of your career and 24/7 rotation is punishing, my sleep pattern is destroyed even though I no longer work nights.
Teaching isn't that family friendly either but is slightly easier in terms of paid childcare - it's impossible to find anyone to take your kids from 6.30am or until 10pm, the staff nurseries here have slightly extended hours (7-6.30) but not enough.
You would have more 'free' time in nursing though, you'll have your professional development to do in your own time but you won't take work home as a general rule, unlike teachers. Your life is your own if you can manage to leave work though it doesn't feel like it sometimes when you get home at 10pm and have to leave again at 6am!
The potential pay progression is much better in teaching, the vast majority of nurses are band 5 or 6 (health visitors band 6 for example) and in terms of career potential if you leave, teaching probably better.
So pros and cons for both. I'm a nurse and my best friend is a primary teacher. We both have love/hate relationships with our jobs! Both have a heavy emotional workload to do them well and if your heart's not in it you'll really struggle. Nursing can be the best job in the world on a good day and a circle of hell on a bad and I think teaching is very similar.
Go with your heart. Good luck!

EuropeanSpoon Thu 03-Mar-16 00:33:18

For a very vague financial comparison my friend and I are both late 30s, I have a post grad without which I couldn't do my b6 role and I earn about £10k less than she does. She's not SLT. Theoretically I could progress to a 7 (still less than friend earns) but it's dead men's shoes and basically a management job so don't be a nurse if you want £££!

I don't think teaching is worth doing for the money alone either but there is higher earning potential. People go on about nurse consultants but in our (massive) trust there are 2, and they still earn less than the deputy heads at the local primary.

EuropeanSpoon Thu 03-Mar-16 00:40:31

One more thing to consider - nursing courses are heavily oversubscribed, especially child branch, so you may find it's not easy to get a place at your preferred uni. Placements can be a right hike away too.
I don't know what primary pgce places are like now but I do know someone who had a placement so far flung she had to stay in digs! That was secondary though and a few years ago.
Not trying to put you off but both careers can be tough to get into and the training for both is on the intense end of the student scale.

Primaryteach87 Thu 03-Mar-16 00:51:43

Steer clear of primary teaching if work-life balance is an issue!! Realistically during term time you will be at work or working at home from 7.30am-11.30pm Mon- Fri with a break to eat on good days. Then do another day's work at the weekend. Holiday wise, I would say I took about 5 weeks actually 'off' and worked for at least 5 hours most other holiday days.
However it's the deep, all consuming stress from impossible targets and fears about x child that you TRY SO HARD and they just can't pass x test etc ...that make in unbearable. Throw a difficult head (common but not universal) and challenging/impossible parents (also common) and really, it's a waking nightmare.

I truly love teaching children. Sadly that's a tiny part of the job these days.

I can't comment on children's nursing so this isn't a comparison at all, I'm sure they also work very hard.

Out2pasture Thu 03-Mar-16 01:05:49

have you researched and considered if there are job openings in those area's? here in Canada we have a glut of primary teachers, extremely high post program unemployment (although openings in area's such as advanced math or physics..secondary subject) nursing has more openings (mostly casual) but not often in specialty units such as pediatrics.

Lilly2014 Thu 03-Mar-16 23:35:07

Thanks for your replies everyone!

I was comparing children's nursing with primary teaching - I know both are tough but rewarding jobs.

I think I'd get more of a buzz from nursing but I know I would hate the 12+ hour night shifts on my feet and working weekends when my friends are off!

I just want to clarify that I am aware of the hours teachers work as I have lots of friends who are primary teachers. Most of them manage their time really well and love their jobs. The hours don't bother me at all as I don't mind working from home in my evenings and weekends - my boyfriend will still be there most of the time so I won't miss him.

MarasmeAbsolu Thu 10-Mar-16 22:23:48

Lilly I am a uni lecturer, marking most nights and WE, or if not marking, I am reading PhD theses / writing grants / papers.
I'm sure my teaching colleagues' lot is the same, with the added extra of anxious/angry parents and the high emotions that comes with dealing with little ones (the good thing with uni is that our students are allegedly adults).

All this to say - a lot of "us" have very few friends a few years down the line shock! I am not trying to sound callous or weird, but my few friends have similar careers as mine, very little free time, we have kids the same age and we manage human interactions during our children's playdates. If you are after a 9 to 5 + no WE, and know it in your heart, do not go toward either job option. Both need to be vocations to "work".

[again, I m not trying to sound shitty or discouraging - the guardian teacher network + common room here give a little glimpse of what it's like. As for nursing, I'm sure there is a relevant thread somewhere.]

Marrou Fri 11-Mar-16 21:28:43

I have left teaching as the hours are so all consuming and, with the current government, the job so disappointing. There is no work life balance in teaching and for that reason you've got to LOVE it to stay in the profession.

jclm Sun 13-Mar-16 22:16:55

I would avoid teaching. Sorry...

There are many avenues you could turn in a nursing career. For instance if it is 9-5 working you want, consider health visiting.

You could also widen your job search. Have you considered something like speech therapy? Or occupational therapy? Both are 9-5, often working in schools. These would also offer self employment routes for later.

Sidge Sun 13-Mar-16 22:50:48

Health visiting 9-5? Ha! My HV colleagues work 0830-1830 most days but yes, on paper it's 9-5. They cover weekends and bank holidays too.

Remember that whilst nursing offers job prospects away from hospitals and shift patterns that include nights and weekends, those roles are like hens teeth and usually for more senior or at least 2+years post qualifying, which means potentially 5 years of shift work.

And with a push away from hospital and towards community and primary care those areas are becoming 24/7 too. I work in a GP surgery and my hours could be between 8 in the morning and 8 at night. My community nurse friends work between 0800 and 2000 and do a weekend shift rota where they work 1 in 5. They also cover bank holidays of course.

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