Children's Nurse

A career as a Children’s Nurse could be perfect for you if you have experience of working with and enjoy caring for children and young people.

In NHSScotland, registered Children’s Nurses can work in a diverse range of settings within a health and social care environment. This includes opportunities within hospitals (including neonatal units), the community, schools, and clinics.

Children’s Nurses care for patients ranging from newborn babies to adolescents up to the age of 16 and occasionally young people up to the age of 21 years old, who have a wide range of long-term conditions. They work closely with parents and carers, supporting them in a variety of situations.

Children’s nursing can be hugely rewarding, but also emotionally challenging. Children’s Nurses provide comfort and reassurance to children, young people and their families in difficult or stressful circumstances.

The needs of babies, children, and young people are different than adults. Children’s Nurses, therefore, need specialist knowledge, skills and experience in order to care for children, young people and their families. You will become confident and competent in the care of children and young people requiring healthcare interventions within a variety of exciting, challenging and stimulating environments.

The ability to communicate well with children and young people is an essential part of the Nurse’s role.  Children’s Nurses work as part of a multi-disciplinary team, with doctors, other Nurses and Allied Health Professionals, non-clinical professionals, social workers, voluntary sector workers and those who help care for patients at home.

To become a Children’s Nurse, useful skills and abilities include:

  • good levels of physical fitness
  • the ability to work in a team environment
  • confidence
  • good communication skills
  • a professional attitude to work
  • able to convey apathy and understanding, as well as being compassionate and sensitive

All Nurses working in NHSScotland must be registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), once they have graduated from an approved educational institution. In Scotland, the list of NMC approved educational institutions includes:

Candidates must meet the NMC requirements of good health and good character.

The minimum academic entry requirements for nursing degrees vary, but most universities in Scotland require SQA Higher BBC grades, including English and a science subject. A pass in National 5 English and Maths at grade A - C is also required, if these subjects are not achieved at SQA Higher grade.

Specific entry requirements, including other accepted qualifications, are provided on each university website. To apply for a Nursing programme you must use the UCAS application process.

You can visit the NMC website for a full list of approved educational institutions and nursing programmes across the UK.

Scottish Wider Access Programme – Nursing (SCQF Level 6)

This programme is for adults returning to education, perhaps changing career or seeking to gain the equivalent university entry qualifications needed for nursing. There are no formal entry qualifications, but applicants should have a good standard of general education and have been away from formal education for a minimum of 2 – 3 years.

Successful completion of the course could lead to:

  • A degree in nursing by applying to universities that participate in the SWAP partnership programme
  • Entry to an HNC Social Care course
  • Entry to an HNC Additional Support Needs course
  • Entry to an HNC Care course

Please visit the Scottish Wider Access Programme (SWAP) website for more information.

Nursing support workers

If you are an experienced Nursing Support Worker, there may be opportunities for you to apply for fully funded routes to degree level nursing and become a registered Staff Nurse.

Protecting vulnerable groups (PVG) background checks

To work as a nurse in NHSScotland, you will be subject to occupational health checks and background checks, such as the protecting vulnerable groups (PVG) scheme.

Modern apprenticeships offer those aged over 16 paid employment with the opportunity to train for jobs at craft, technician and management level.

The modern apprenticeship in Healthcare Support (clinical) at SCQF Level 6 and SCQF Level 7 is a framework for people interested in working in a clinical healthcare setting.

For more information about this modern apprenticeship framework, look at:

Contact your local NHSScotland board to find out if this modern apprenticeship is available in your area.

Once registered as a Children’s Nurse, there are on-going requirements for education and skills development and a host of opportunities to go further and learn more. During your first year as a newly qualified Nurse, you'll get extra support and guidance through the Flying Start programme.

A registered Nurse enters the profession as a ‘Level 5 Practitioner.’ They can choose to stay at that level, keeping up-to-date through continuing professional development (CPD) or undertake further learning and development, both in the workplace and through courses. This can lead to progression through the career pathway to senior, advanced or consultant level.

Nurses at all levels need to show strong clinical leadership. Students and healthcare support workers look to Staff Nurses for guidance and support, while at higher levels Nurses may lead teams, departments or services. This leadership role includes motivating and empowering staff to treat all patients with dignity, privacy and compassion and taking responsibility for ensuring excellence in clinical care.

Senior Nurses bring key knowledge and skills to specialist and multidisciplinary teams, while Nurse Consultants lead whole departments and services, informing practice and policy development at regional and national levels.

Once you've qualified and gained experience as a registered Children's Nurse, there are a wide variety of specialisms to choose from, including: 

  • neonatal
  • surgical nursing
  • medical nursing
  • cancer and palliative care
  • community nursing, and
  • transplant coordination.

You might be interested in specialising as a Play Therapist. There are also opportunities to move into management.


Revalidation is a process which Nurses need to follow to maintain their registration with the NMC every 3 years.

The requirements for revalidation are:

  • 450 practice hours
  • 35 hours of CPD including 20 hours of participatory learning
  • five pieces of practice-related feedback
  • five written reflective accounts
  • reflective discussion
  • health and character declaration
  • professional indemnity arrangement
  • confirmation

Revalidation is an ongoing process throughout your career and aims to promote good practice and to maintain and strengthen public confidence in the profession.

Find out more information from these professional and regulatory bodies:

Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC)

The Nursing and Midwifery Council is the governing body for nurses and midwives, and exists to protect the public. The NMC also make sure that Nurses and Midwives keep their knowledge and skills up-to-date through revalidation. Registered Nurses must renew their professional registration every three years.

The NMC website also contains information about registration, training and professional standards for Nurses and Midwives in Scotland and the rest of the UK.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN)

The Royal College of Nursing is a professional body and trade union which represents Nurses and nursing. It seeks to promote excellence in practice and to shape health policies. Find out more on the RCN website.