Career Coaching

If you feel stuck in a rut, unable to progress, or have circumstances that are impacting on your career, Career Coaching may be able to help.

The good thing about coaching is that it's not advice, and it doesn't tell you what to do, but is about working collaboratively with you to identify steps and aspirations.

This page will help you determine whether Career Coaching would benefit you.


What coaching is :

  • Reflecting on your current situation 
  • Helping you identify your values, strengths, talents, and priorities
  • Discussing steps or actions to take forward  
  • Exploring underlying reasons behind any decisions
  • Encouraging you to take ownership of your career

What coaching is not :

  • Telling you what job to do, path to take, or what's "best" for you
  • Recommending which courses or training you should take
  • Telling you which types of jobs would be suitable for your health
  • Giving you info you could find online, or doing research for you
  • Providing you with a list of all possible jobs/roles/pathways

To help manage the treatment of COVID-19, the government has proposed new measures to expand the nursing workforce and allow the NMC to establish a COVID-19 temporary emergency register. So far, the following measures have been proposed:

  • Inviting those who have left the NMC register within the last 3 years to join the emergency register
  • Encouraging existing Registered Nurses who are not working in clinical care to come back into clinical practice
  • Offering undergraduate Student Nurses the choice to undertake the final 6 months of their programme as a clinical placement
  • Establishing a specific student part to the emergency register for final year Student Nurses in the final 6 months of their programme

If you have been encouraged or invited to provide nursing care during the COVID-19 emergency, we understand this could be a difficult decision for you, and may be feeling unsure or worried. 

Career Coaches can't influence your decision, but they could help you to:

  • Explore your reasons and talk through your decision
  • Talk through any concerns, doubts or worries you have
  • Explore your transferable skills
  • Help you plan your next steps

Useful links

Speaking to a Coach

If you would like to discuss transferring to or returning to clinical practice during the COVID-19 emergency with a Career Coach, please contact RCN Direct to speak to an adviser about booking an appointment.

If you are looking for information on courses, Career Coaching would not be of any benefit to you. Career Coaches cannot tell you which courses or qualifications to take, recommend courses, or provide you with a list of "possible courses." 

There are lots of resources online that can help you however.

You may want to start by reading our online advice page on Searching for courses, which talks about how and where to look for courses, what to consider when choosing a course, who to approach for advice and recommendations, as well as guidance on second registration, top up degrees, APEL, return to practice and much more.

Course finder checklist

✔  Contact universities for advice and information on courses.

✔  Speak to your employer. You may also have an RCN learning rep, practice development team, or education lead in your organisation.

✔  Each RCN forum has its own private Facebook group where you could ask your peers for advice and recommendations. The forums also have their own RCN Professional Lead who you can contact. (See under "Meet the team.")

✔  Use your contacts and network to get recommendations. 

✔ See the RCN's Clinical Topics which may have information about qualifications, courses, and frameworks.

HEE resources (England only)

  • HEE (Health Education England) has information on over 100 programmes from planning and commissioning, to recruiting and developing healthcare staff in a range of healthcare and community settings, (e.g., apprenticeships, NHS 111, end of life care, occupational health, practice nursing, mental health, education, etc.). where you can find frameworks, initiatives, programmes, resources, contacts, and more.
  • Contact your regional HEE team
  • For primary care roles, contact your local HEE training hub  

Useful tip

If you want to know which course or qualifications to take in order to further your career, start examining job adverts for the type of roles you want, and look at the Selection Criteria and Person Specification.

Criteria may vary from employer to employer so try and compare as many as you can to get a good, all round picture of what you would be expected to meet.

Don't be afraid to contact prospective employers to ask which courses or qualifications are desirable to them.

You would not need a Career Coaching session to get information about job roles. To get advice and information about particular roles, you can search online. There are some resources listed below to help get you started.

If you have booked a Career Coaching session, or are looking to book one, please ensure you research any roles you're interested in before your session.

General resources

Country Specific resources:

Useful tip

To find out what kind of experience, skills or qualifications are required for a particular role, examine job adverts for that particular role and look at the Selection Criteria or Person Specification

Criteria may vary from employer to employer so try and compare as many as you can to get a good, all round picture of what you would be expected to meet.


You may feel it's time for a change in your career, feel stuck, or be unsure how to move forward. 

Career Coaches cannot tell you what to do, but they can work with you over multiple sessions to explore the ideas you've got, and help you identify some steps to take forward.

Career Coaching could help you to:

  • Explore your reasons for wanting change
  • Talk through your ideas with you
  • Work through coaching exercises to identify your strengths, values, and which working environments you thrive in
  • Identifying any next steps or actions

When to contact us

If you think you could benefit from coaching, it's really important that you've carried out your own research first and have some ideas to bring to your session.

If you don't know where to start, don't worry; we recommend taking some time out to research up to 3 roles, or having a think about what you really enjoy, or which areas interest you. You could take inspiration from your current role, previous roles, any training or courses, placements, volunteering, etc. 

There are some resources below to help you.

Useful resources

Country specific resources

Booking an appointment

Please contact RCN Direct to speak to an adviser about booking an appointment.


You could find yourself considering leaving nursing because of shift patterns, work life balance, or health reasons. Alternatively, you could be feeling burnt out, stressed or disillusioned with the profession. 

We understand this could be a difficult decision for you, and are here to try and support you.

Career Coaches can't influence your decision, or have a list of possible jobs you could move into, but they could help you to:

  • Explore your reasons and talk through your decision
  • Explore if it is the profession, or your current role / environment that needs change
  • Reflect upon why you become a Nurse
  • Explore your transferable skills
  • Help you plan your next steps

Career related resources

Other resources

Booking an appointment

Please contact RCN Direct to speak to an adviser about booking an appointment.


If you find yourself at a career crossroads due to a change in your health, you're not alone. The RCN Careers Service speaks to many members who successfully redesign their career around ill health or disability. We understand this could be a difficult time for you, and are here to try and support you.

Although a Career Coach cannot tell you which jobs would be suitable for you, or suggest possible roles for you, you may want to see our page on “Managing your career with ill health.” This page lists some roles that generally tend to be less physically demanding, so this could be a good starting point for you to gather some ideas.

When Career Coaching could help

Your first step must be to carry out some research and gather some ideas about potential suitable roles. 

Once you've done this, you may find it helpful to talk through your ideas with a Career Coach. Your Coach can help you to explore how your ideas would fit in with your values, skills, lifestyle, and of course, your health.

If you don't know where to start, don't worry; we recommend taking some time out to research up to 3 roles, or having a think about what you really enjoy, or which areas interest you. You could take inspiration from your current role, previous roles, any training or courses, placements, volunteering, etc. Your ideas don't have to be limited to nursing, and you might want to explore other roles within healthcare, or even outside nursing / healthcare all together. 

There are some resources below to help get you started.

How Career Coaching could help

  • Talking through your ideas with you
  • Identifying your transferable skills
  • Working through coaching exercises to identify your strengths, values, and which working environments might suit you
  • Working through coaching exercises to identify any challenges or obstacles, and explore how you might overcome them
  • Planning your next steps

Career Coaches can't advise you on asking for reasonable adjustments. If you need advice on this, please see here or speak to RCN Direct / your RCN rep. You can also see the Peer Support resources, which includes a Disability Coaching Service.

Career resources

Other resources

Booking an appointment

Please contact RCN Direct to speak to an adviser about booking an appointment.

If you’ve been subject to an investigation/sanction/referral, you may feel concerned about the impact it will have on your career. Applying for jobs in these circumstances can of course be more challenging than usual, but many healthcare workers are able to gain future employment and move forward with their careers.

If you are still in the middle of an investigation, or waiting to hear initially from the NMC, it's important to note that most employers will want to know the outcome before deciding to hire you.  Please bear in mind that a coach won’t be able to influence this, or advise which employers may/may not be likely to hire you whilst a case is still ongoing. 

If you're looking for a new job, then of course you must be upfront and honest with any future employer. It's possible you may get turned down for roles when you disclose what happened. Try not to be disheartened and be prepared to keep trying.

Our page Applying for jobs following investigation, dismissal, sanction or NMC referral has lots of helpful information and tips.

How Career Coaching could help

If you're applying for jobs following an investigation, disciplinary, dismissal or NMC referral, a Career Coach could: 

  • Offer practical support and advice on applying for jobs (e.g. CVs, applications, interview coaching, etc.)
  • Explore any loss of confidence or negative emotions
  • Explore how you will broach making a disclosure with future employers, or practice talking about the incident at application or interview stage
  • Talk through any plans or ideas you have about what you want to do next
  • Help you explore any career crossroads you may have 
  • Talk things through with you if you want to (or have to) leave nursing or healthcare

When to book career coaching

Coaches can help if you wanted to explore any obstacles, fear, shame, lack of confidence etc. you may be feeling following the incident in question.

If you want practical support with applying for jobs (e.g. CV writing, job applications, interviews) and/or want to discuss or practice making a disclosure, it is usually best to book a coaching session once you have actually identified some vacancies you are interested in, or have been shortlisted for interview.

If you want to explore a career move or career change, it's best to book coaching once you have thought about what roles interest you and done some initial research. See the "I feel it's time for change" FAQ above for ideas and resources to get you started. 

Booking an appointment

Please contact RCN Direct to speak to an adviser about booking an appointment.

CV writing

Advice on writing a CV can be found on our CV writing page, along with sample CVs, template CVs, and guidance on writing covering letters.

If you would like feedback on your CV and/or covering letter, you can email it to career.service@rcn.org.uk to receive feedback via email within 10 working days. Please include:

  • your RCN membership number (or postcode)
  • a brief of summary of your situation and goals for context.

Please ensure you have followed the advice on the CV writing page first.

Job applications

Advice on how to complete Job Applications and write Supporting Statements can be found on our Job Applications advice page, including a step by step video tutorial and a sample supporting statement.

If you would like feedback on your supporting statement, you can email it to career.service@rcn.org.uk to receive feedback via email within 10 working days. Please include:

  • your RCN membership number (or postcode)
  • a brief of summary of your situation and goals for context
  • the Person Specification and Job Description.

Please ensure you have followed the advice on the Job Applications page first.

Useful resources


We have online advice on:

If you feel you need further support, we also offer one to one interview coaching over the telephone. You can book this through RCN Direct.

As there are usually waiting times for appointments, please call us as soon as possible to try and secure an appointment before your interview date.

Once you've booked your appointment, you'll need to send us the job advert, Job Description and/or Person Specification.

Disclosing a disability or requesting reasonable adjustments at interview

If you want coaching on disclosing a disability, or need to discuss how you might request reasonable adjustments, the Careers Service will not be able to help with this. However you may feel that you'd  benefit from disability coaching with the Peer Support Service.

Disclosing a previous sanction or dismissal at interview

If you feel you need support with making a disclosure at interview stage, please see the "I've been subject to investigation, sanction, dismissal or NMC referral" FAQ above. 

Booking an appointment

Please contact RCN Direct to speak to an adviser about booking an appointment.

Online advice

Our career resources for student and newly registered nurses include guidance on CV writing, job applications, supporting statements, interviews, and what to consider before taking your first job.

You may also want to see the RCN forums, RCN forum Facebook groups, RCN Clinical topic pages, and the RCN Career pathways resource. (Links can be found further below.)

Email feedback for CVs and supporting statements

RCN members can get feedback on CVs or supporting statements via e-mail.  Please see the "I want help with a CV or job application" above.

Interview Coaching

If you have an interview and feel you'd benefit from interview coaching, you can book at appointment via RCN Direct. Please see the "I've been invited for an interview and need help" FAQ above.

Career coaching

We also offer members one to one coaching over the telephone with a qualified Career Coach.

Common examples of how career coaching could help include:

  • Giving you a safe space to talk about your current situation and your goals
  • Exploring any ideas you have or talking through any decisions
  • Exploring any fears, doubts, lack of confidence, low self esteem, etc.
  • Helping you to identify your transferable skills
  • Working through coaching exercises to identify your strengths, values, and which working environments might suit you
  • Working through coaching exercises to identify any challenges or obstacles and explore how you might overcome them
  • Supporting and empowering you to plan your next steps

The role of the coach is to help you look at what you want to achieve and how best to do it. It is a safe space, time and support to find your own solutions rooted in the belief that you are capable and well resourced. With your coach, over the telephone, you will have the opportunity to share your current situation and reflect upon it before looking at where you would like to be and how you can get there.

Before booking a career coaching appointment

It’s important to remember that our Career Coaches can’t tell you what to do, advise you which jobs would or would not be suitable for you, or suggest courses/roles/pathways for you.

If you are looking to discuss your career options during your coaching session, your first step should be to carry out some research and gather some ideas. If you don't know where to start, we recommend taking some time out to research up to 3 roles, or having a think about what you really enjoy, or which clinical areas interest you.

You may also want to browse or join the RCN's forums (and forum Facebook groups), clinical topics and career pathways resource for technical advice and inspiration, or see the "I want information about different roles" FAQ further up.

Useful resources

Booking an appointment

Please contact RCN Direct to speak to an adviser about booking an appointment.

What to expect during coaching

As an RCN member, you can access up to 3 telephone Career Coaching sessions in a 6 month period.

Coaching is flexible to meet your needs, so there is no set structure. However, what you can expect during your coaching sessions could cover:

  • Your values, strengths, talents and priorities
  • Your ideas
  • Research you've carried out
  • Exploring the reasons behind any changes or motivations
  • Overcoming obstacles or challenges
  • Career coaching exercises
  • Employability skills
  • Interview coaching

Remember, if you are feeling stuck or unhappy, one session of Career Coaching will not be able to fix that. Coaching is more of an ongoing, collaborative process that often involves exploring, soul searching, and even a bit of homework.