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Skills, qualifications and training

Skills

You may find yourself working with individuals and communities from any background.

Working within a community setting, you will need to be well organised, confident and able to cope with potentially challenging situations - such as working with a homeless family. You will need to be able to work independently for most of your time, although you will work as part of a team of other healthcare staff.

Entry requirements

In order to train as a health visitor, you must first qualify and register as a nurse or midwife. You will then need to take an approved programme in specialist community public health nursing/health visiting (SCPHN/HV).

The requirements for entry to SCPHN/HV programmes are very flexible and no minimum period of post-registration experience is required. Nurses or midwives can enter the programme at any stage as long as you can demonstrate that you are able to study at the required educational level. Any registered nurse or midwife is eligible to apply, no matter which branch of nursing (adult, child, learning disability and mental health).

For information on training as a registered nurse and midwife, visit careers in nursing and midwifery sections.

Training

Programmes are at degree level and are normally a minimum of one year full time or the part time equivalent.

A full course normally comprises 45 weeks study to be completed within a 156 week period; part-time study should be completed within 208 weeks.

Where an applicant has relevant experience and/or learning, the higher education institution (HEI) which provides the health visiting course may give accreditation of prior learning (APL). This can be applied up to a maximum of one-third of a SCPHN/HV programme.

Several HEIs offer '2+1' programmes, where a graduate with a health-related degree can obtain APL and complete their pre-registration nurse training in two (rather than three) years, then follow this with the 1 year full-time SCPHN/HV programme.

If you aren't a qualified and registered nurse or midwife, you will need to complete an approved nursing/midwifery programme first. You can search for nursing and midwifery courses in your area using our course finder.

Funding for training

If you are already working as a nurse or midwife, your current employer may be able to second you onto a training programme. Further information can be obtained from the Community Practitioners and Health Visitors Association (CPHVA) website and the health visiting lead at each strategic health authority (SHA).