Working to better the lives of children and their families is a reliable route toward a fulfilling and meaningful career. If you’re personable, altruistic, and hardworking, there are many career paths you could consider that allow you to work closely with families of all shapes and sizes. Here are some examples.
Family Nurse Practitioner
Family Nurse Practitioners (FNP) provide treatment to patients of all ages, from birth through to childhood, adolescence, and all throughout adulthood. FNPs receive extensive training to allow them to treat a diverse range of people at all stages of life.
Because of their qualifications and broad expertise, Family Nurse Practitioners can become primary healthcare providers and generally have a closer, more personal relationship with their patients as they continue to treat them over the years. When working with family units, FNPs are expected to have a thorough understanding of family health history, allowing them to make more accurate diagnoses and recommendations for healthy living.
Usually, a Family Nurse Practitioner will work alongside a physician in a Family Practice or clinic, but many FNPs choose to work autonomously and serve in communities where healthcare is underfunded.
If family medicine is appealing but you would like to work specifically with babies, you might consider a career in Neonatal Nursing. Neonatal Nurses are different from Nurse Midwives in that they aren’t involved in the prenatal care or delivery of the infant, but are called upon for support after birth. They are primarily responsible for the care of newborn babies born with health complications, ranging from prematurity or low birth weight to cardiac issues or surgical needs. It can be very emotionally taxing to care for frail, sick babies, but helping families through such a scary and uncertain time is immensely rewarding.
Neonatal nursing is also a career path with a lot of room for growth. While most will begin as staff nurses within a neonatal unit, you then have the option to specialize in an area such as developmental care or qualify further as a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). With a recognized qualification, DNP neonatal nurses can expect to work alongside physicians and nursing staff, overseeing the comprehensive medical care of critically ill babies.
Working in a medical profession isn’t for everybody, but teaching is another great way to make an impact on the lives of children and their families. Teachers of younger students, such as kindergarten and elementary levels, tend to have one class that they educate on a broad range of topics rather than specializing as an English or Math teacher, for example. This means they generally have a closer relationship with their pupils as they spend all day with the same children, and are responsible for communicating with their parents or guardians about overall progress as well as any causes for concern, whether educational, social, or emotional.
High school teachers usually specialize in a particular subject and see various students throughout the day. However, teachers of teenagers still play a meaningful role as they help to prepare them for graduation, imparting life skills and knowledge that should serve them through their adult lives whether they choose to pursue further education or join the workforce. Teachers of both children and teenagers will also be expected to provide support for families, making recommendations for learning outside the classroom.
Aside from supporting children and families, teachers can often enjoy extended breaks around school holidays which allows them the time to pursue professional advancement, passion projects, or, for those with families of their own, time at home with their kids.
Social workers support both families and individuals throughout their communities, helping people to access vital resources. Social work often involves working alongside vulnerable people, and the majority of social workers will specialize in family or school social work as a way to support deprived children and give them a voice.
Family social workers have the qualifications and expertise to help households struggling with poverty, and young people faced with neglect or abuse. They can remove vulnerable people of all ages from dangerous situations and connect them with the appropriate programs. Family social workers are concerned with the health of the family unit, and above all, the physical and psychological wellbeing of children. Sometimes this will mean removing a child from abusive parents and finding a safe foster home, or facilitating an adoption to a loving family.
Social work can be difficult, with abuse, illness, trauma, and addiction becoming recurring themes, but it is a profession that undoubtedly makes a huge impact on families – particularly those who might not have the resources to seek help otherwise.
Children’s therapists have a rather broad remit, but their underlying goal is to support young patients who have suffered trauma or live with physical, mental, or learning disabilities. A child psychologist looks to the social and emotional development of a child, as well as their typical behavioral patterns, to help them form a picture of their client’s mental wellbeing and make appropriate recommendations for treatment. Child psychologists also support the parents or guardians of the children they treat and can work with families affected by addiction, abuse, and loss.
Child psychologists spend years in education and training, as it’s a highly qualified and specialized role that requires a PH.D. or Psy.D. Over time, candidates will study theoretical and clinical approaches to mental health and psychological development. Many qualified child psychologists continue to conduct research and studies throughout their career, learning from their patients to help them better serve other children in the future, as well as sharing research with their peers. It’s a highly academic field, so if you have an inquisitive mind and a thirst for knowledge, this could be a highly satisfying career path for you.
Children are often among the most vulnerable in any society, unequipped with the tools to tell us what they need or when they’re struggling. By choosing a family-focused career, you have the potential to make a huge impact, not only on the lives of kids and their families, but on whole communities for generations to come.