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Becoming a Nurse

By: Lucy Debenham BA (hons) - Updated: 12 Apr 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Nursing Nurse Jobs Registered Nurse

Nursing can be a career for life. You can also become a nurse later on in life if you decide that a career change in this direction is definitely for you. There are many nursing jobs and roles available to suit a host of people with a variety of skills. However, the common role of a nurse is to tend the needs of the patient, rather than the illness, disease or condition.

Nursing is not restricted to hospital work, and does not necessarily involve dealing with blood, guts and gore! Once you have completed your pre-registration course, there is a multitude of module options available, so that you can choose the direction and area of healthcare that you'd like to work in. Nurses can work in patient's homes, in schools, with children, the elderly or those with mental disabilities, as well as in prisons or GP practices. The opportunities in this area are extremely varied, each with their own set of challenges and rewards.

What Skills or Qualifications Will I Need?

Before working in the NHS, you will need to complete a pre-registration course. There are many pre-registration courses available throughout the UK, and at present there is no set minimum entry qualification across the board. The entry requirements differ depending on the higher education institution chosen. It is generally thought that most entry criteria for a diploma course will require candidates to possess around 5 GCSEs (or equivalent) of Grade C and above including English literature or language and a science subject. Nursing degree courses usually require candidates to have gained at least 2 A-Level qualifications or equivalent.

If you're considering Changing Career and becoming a nurse, you should have good numeracy and literacy skills. You should also be an excellent team worker and possess good communication skills. You may also find that you have to work within extremely emotionally charged atmospheres and situations, so an ability to work and communicate calmly, sympathetically and efficiently within such situations is crucial. Observation skills are also vital, as a nurse's role can often include monitoring a patient's progress, as well as the possible resulting care routes.

Career Routes

You could start working as a healthcare assistant or in a medical or health support role, which may not require you to possess any formal qualifications, before working your way up to a level where you can apply for a degree course. Some applicants may prefer to take the route of simply going straight to a University Course to study as a nurse. The NHS tries to encourage applicants of all ages and backgrounds, by offering bursaries and paying tuition fees. You may be surprised to find that you're eligible, so make a point of checking this point out.

If you've never worked in a healthcare environment before, it is always a good idea to try to gain some level of work experience. Work experience can also include Working In A Voluntary Capacity for organisations such as St John Ambulance. This will not only provide you with an insight and experience into certain aspects of nursing, but also go a long way in showing that you are committed to a career change in nursing.

There are also many different pre-registration programmes to choose from to suit your needs. If you are only able to study part-time, there are many university courses available that will take around five or six years to complete part-time. This career route is available for staff working within the NHS, most commonly those who have gained an NVQ Level 3 working as associate practitioners or assistants.

If you have been qualified in the past with a health-related degree, or are returning to a career in healthcare, there are also opportunities to undertake an Accelerated Programme for around 2 years. However, these can be restricted to certain universities, so it is best to check out UCAS for more details to see if this route will suit you.

Staying Positive

Whatever your situation, the likelihood is that there is a nursing job and career route out there that will meet your requirements, making a career change in nursing a completely viable option. You may also wish to consider other careers in the health industry, such as a Paramedic or a Midwife.

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Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
[Add a Comment]
Hey there I am Glenn 24 years old. I am currently a single Dad working in butchery retail and qualified in the butchery trade. Been in this same line of work since i was 16. I have been inspired to look into nursing by an in law and i am very interested in this career change. No quite sure what qualifications i need to have in order to make this change? need some help to point me in the right direction? And what colleges or universities offer these courses as i live in the shetland isles? thank you
Glenn - 12-Apr-17 @ 6:26 PM
Hi, I'm 41 just returned from Spain and am looking for a career in nursing I am not sure of my GCSEs would I have to resit them to qualify do do nursing and what courses would I need to look at doing? Thank you
Tinamarina - 28-Mar-17 @ 7:51 PM
Lauren - Your Question:
Hello I have worked in care for over 3 years. I have 5 gcses that are grade c and above I want to be a mental health nurse but my a levels and degree isnt anything to do with care im currently starting my nvq level 2 in care what do I need to be a mental health nurse?

Our Response:
The easiest way to find this out is ask the entry requirements for nursing degrees at a university convenient for you. It amy be that your A level subjects and experience - together with the fact that you have shown you can complete degree level studies will be sufficient to apply without other qualifications.
ACareerChange - 24-Mar-17 @ 12:16 PM
Hello i have worked in care for over 3 years. I have 5 gcses that are grade c and above i want to be a mental health nurse but my a levels and degree isnt anything to do with care im currently starting my nvq level 2 in care what do i need to be a mental health nurse?
Lauren - 21-Mar-17 @ 1:05 PM
Hi I'm chelsea. I'm 20 years of age and am currently a healthcare/ care assistant have donever this for 3 years now. I love my job and would love to become a registered nurse, however I'm completely clueless on where and how to get started on a course to do so. Please I'd be great full for any advice. Thank you.
Chels - 13-Mar-17 @ 9:59 PM
Hi, I would like a bit of advise, I am 23 years old and currently work full time. I would love to do nursing. However I just don't know where to start with it all, as in I don't know where and how I would get the training, or is there any apprenticeships that I can do? Also I haven't got great qualifications either, I have my maths and English level 2 that I completed when I did my hairdressing courses, which I believe equivalents to a level B or C not too sure. Just not sure where to start and what qualifications I need to get into training for this and doing some sort of course. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Many Thanks Lauren.
not got one - 7-Mar-17 @ 9:08 PM
Hi i have level 3 health & social care diploma what other qualifications do i need to become a nurse im currently a support worker with adult services.
Caz - 4-Mar-17 @ 5:00 PM
Keri- Your Question:
Was just wondering where to start looking into becoming a nurse? I have GCSEs but not a levels and don't know best place to start. what all would I need to do? I would love to be a midwife is becoming a nurse first the best opinion?? So many questions and routes and don't know where to start

Our Response:
You will need to consider A levels (there are many FE colleges that offer these part time or full time), or an access/foundation course leading to a nursing degree course. The UCAS website should give you the information you need.
ACareerChange - 28-Feb-17 @ 10:46 AM
Was just wondering where to start looking into becoming a nurse? I have GCSEs but not a levels and don't know best place to start.. what all would I need to do? I would love to be a midwife is becoming a nurse first the best opinion?? So many questions and routes and don't know where to start
Keri - 26-Feb-17 @ 4:18 PM
Sam - Your Question:
I will be 50 this year is it too late to pursue a career in nursing ? I have 6 O'Levels ; 2 A'levels,and a BTec in Business Studies. Is it possible to try an entrance exam ? Where do I go to apply in the first instance ? Is it possible to specialise in one particular field ?

Our Response:
Nursing degrees are offered at many universities. Have a look at the UCAS website where you'll find all the details. If you see a course you like the look of, in an area that's convenient for you, then it might be worth contacting them directly.
ACareerChange - 23-Feb-17 @ 11:48 AM
I will be 50 this year is it too late to pursue a career in nursing ?I have 6 O'Levels ; 2 A'levels,and a BTec in Business Studies. Is it possible to try an entrance exam ? Where do I go to apply in the first instance ? Is it possible to specialise in one particular field ?
Sam - 22-Feb-17 @ 9:33 AM
@aine same here I think we need 5 gcse's or equivalent and one of the two englishes and maths
Emily - 20-Feb-17 @ 11:10 PM
I am in year eleven and should be able to pass 5 gcse's. I want to work in a children's hospital as a nurse what college courses would be applicable as I have applied for childcare l3 for my first year of college then I may do health and social care l3 as well for my second year. Would any of this help? After college where and what do I do to get to become a nurse in a hospital setting? Any help would be appreciated.
Emily - 20-Feb-17 @ 11:07 PM
i would like to know what GCSE I would need to become a childrens nurse
aine - 9-Feb-17 @ 10:23 AM
Hi. I am 40 years old. I am originally from Poland. I have NVQ3 in health and social care. I am working as a carer since 2007. I would like to bcome a children nurse. What I have to do to start my education.
beawyp76 - 4-Feb-17 @ 9:02 PM
Hi, I've been a carer for over 9 years now, I'm 46 with an now level 2 in health and social care. I would like to become a nurse how would I go about this. Do I need to go to university?who do I need to contact? I live in N Ireland. Thanks
Lisa - 2-Feb-17 @ 10:28 PM
Hi I have for past 15 years worked in care have level 3 promoting independence level 4 in leadership and management and have just recently also qualified as care practitioner would like to train to become a learning disability nurse but don't know how to go about this could you tell me what this would entail please
Demi2106 - 31-Jan-17 @ 12:29 AM
You could do an access to higher education course in Nursing which would set you up to study Nursing at Uni.There are a few places which offer Access to HE courses - I've heard learndirect has an online option.
Sweetpea - 23-Jan-17 @ 5:04 PM
I have recently become a carer this has been a complete career change my work experience for the last 30 years was admin based.I'm 53 years of age and I would like to persue a career in nursing but don't particularly want to do a degree but I would be willing to a pre registration course preferrably nursing the elderly possibly end of life how do I make a start with this? Thank you
Maggie - 21-Jan-17 @ 5:34 PM
Hi I'm 34 wife and mother to an 18year old 16,13, and 4 year old Iv always wanted to become a nurse butI left school at 14 and started a family so iv no GCSEs or Alevel qualifications. How would I go about this please. Full time university wouldn't be easy right now but would I need to complete GCSEs first?
Sweet cheeks - 21-Jan-17 @ 7:53 AM
Hello, I'm 39 currrently working in admin, I would like a career as a health visitor but I don't have a nursing qualification, what's the best way to start getting a qualification and experience, I have two children under 5, experience working with the public and prepared to study. Thank you
Hayley - 17-Jan-17 @ 9:05 PM
Hi my name is Claire I'm36 and I have an NVQ 2 & 3 in childcare, I am also currently studying team leadership with functional skills for Maths and English I have spent a lot of time over the years in and out of hospital and would like to give something back. I am keen on a career change intochildren's nursing would my qualifications be enough to do this. Thank you.
Cheekaboo - 14-Jan-17 @ 5:43 PM
Jake - Your Question:
Hi I'm Jason, I've been working in Retail for 10 years, I have been inspired to get into Nursing by a friend who is a fully qualified Nurse, I do have GCSEs but their below C grade, what options are available for me?

Our Response:
You could try doing maths/english GCSEs part time and follow up it with a suitable level healthcare qualification that might give you access to a nursing degree. Check with your local colleges to see what access to nursing qualifications it offers.
ACareerChange - 10-Jan-17 @ 12:17 PM
Hi I'm Jason, I've been working in Retail for 10 years, I have been inspired to get into Nursing by a friend who is a fully qualified Nurse, I do have GCSEs but their below C grade, what options are available for me?
Jake - 9-Jan-17 @ 1:04 PM
Hi, I have worked in health care for 10 years, in this time I have compleated nvq level2 promoting independence also level 3 in health and social, modern foundation apprentiship, I have g c s e is ther any way that I can use these to apply for a nursing degree.
George - 29-Dec-16 @ 11:00 PM
I have nvq 3 in health and social care what route should i take to become a nurse
Clarey85 - 24-Dec-16 @ 7:29 AM
Can you donvq to become a mental health nurse of so what level does it need to be.
Manny - 1-Dec-16 @ 10:35 PM
Hi I'm 35 years old and have worked in social care for about 5 years. I want to train to become a nurse.I have a level 2 diploma in health and social care and level 2 literacyand numeracy, however, no GCSE'S. Im thinking of applying to do an access course plus GCSE English and Maths alongside. Would this be enough to get into uni to train to become a nurse? Also, am I too old to even consider this? Thanks.
Rgs - 25-Nov-16 @ 4:12 PM
Courts - Your Question:
Hi, my name is Courtney, I'm 18 and I'm from Scotland. I left high school before I turned 16 with only National 2 and 3 qualifications in certain subjects and therefore sat no exams. And now, nearly three years later, I've decided I want to be a nurse, but I'm afraid they won't except me because I didn't do well in school. Is there something you can help me with? Thank you.

Our Response:
You should look into the possiblility or re-sitting your highers or obtaining an alternative qualification that might get you onto a nursing degree course. Take a look at the UCAS website which will list all the places you can undertake a nursing degree (you can select a location). This will help you establish what your chosen institution requires as an entry point.
ACareerChange - 21-Nov-16 @ 10:54 AM
Hi, my name is Courtney, I'm 18 and I'm from Scotland. I left high school before I turned 16 with only National 2 and 3 qualifications in certain subjects and therefore sat no exams. And now, nearly three years later, I've decided I want to be a nurse, but I'm afraid they won't except me because I didn't do well in school. Is there something you can help me with? Thank you.
Courts - 18-Nov-16 @ 12:24 PM
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