Training and development (health visitor)

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

A full course in specialist community public health nursing (SCPHN) normally comprises 45 weeks’ study to be completed within a period of 156 weeks; part-time study should be completed within 208 weeks.

health visitor with parents

Where an applicant has relevant experience or learning or both, 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.

Not a nurse or a midwife?

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


You’ll need to be committed to learning, and always keep your skills and knowledge up to date. To maintain your registration to practise with the Nursing and Midwifery Council, you’ll need to go through the process of revalidation as both a nurse and a specialty community public health nurse in health visiting (SCPHN - HV).

The process is straightforward and will help you as a nurse or midwife to demonstrate that you practise safely and effectively. You will have to revalidate every three years to renew your registration.

Find out more about revalidation on the NMC microsite


Some health visitors decide to go into service management or clinical academic research. You may want to become a community matron and lead a team of health visitors and other nurses.

The NHS Leadership Academy runs a number of programmes to support nurses into leadership roles, including the Mary Seacole programme. They also offer a programme purely for frontline nurses and midwives to help develop their skills and build confidence.

Find out more about the NHS Leadership Academy and its programmes.

Education and training roles

The professional development of the next generation of nurses is vital to the delivery of patient care. Nurses can get involved in a number of roles:

  • preceptors
  • mentors
  • practice educators
  • lecturers

Find out more about the entry requirements for health visiting
Find out more about the skills and interests needed for health visiting
Find out more about working as a health visitor

  • Preceptors offer guidance and support to newly qualified nurses. They are qualified practitioners and normally have experience in the same area of practice as the practitioner requiring support.

  • Mentors or assessors are responsible for a range of activity and learning for student nurses, such as the quality of the learning in a practice setting and the assessment of a student’s competence.

  • Practice educators lead teaching and development in the practical setting rather than the theoretical setting, which would be led by a lecturer. The practice educator will provide guidance and support to mentors involved with students and will provide a link between the practice setting and the university.

  • Lecturers are responsible for classroom teaching in universities. Their role is similar to that of the practice educator in the practice environment, and both roles have equal standing.

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