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Becoming a Nurse

By: Lucy Debenham BA (hons) - Updated: 22 Sep 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]
Meme - Your Question:
Hi I have been a HCA since 2009 working in a GP practice. I have a diploma for healthcare assistants in practice with the OU. I would like to further my career in Nursing. I would prefer to stay with my current employer and study. I find I am going around and around and ending up nowhere and find it frustrating. Would appreciate any guidance. Thanks

Our Response:
If you want to study and work at the same time it might be worth looking into the new nursing apprenticeships and nursing associate roles. see this NHS careers page for more information
ACareerChange - 25-Sep-17 @ 10:59 AM
Hi I have been a HCA since 2009 working in a GP practice. I have a diploma for healthcare assistants in practice with the OU. I would like to further my career in Nursing. I would prefer to stay with my current employer and study. I find I am going around and around and ending up nowhere and find it frustrating. Would appreciate any guidance. Thanks
Meme - 22-Sep-17 @ 7:26 AM
Hi I was wondering how would I go about becoming a nurse like I want to work in a hospital on a ward I've only worked in a doctor surgery as a receptionist but want to do something different
Soniya - 20-Sep-17 @ 10:57 PM
Sand - Your Question:
Hi I have nvq level 2 in health and social care I really want to be a nurse I am a community care and 32 what do I need to do thank you

Our Response:
You may need to get the next level (NVQ 3) of qualification before being considered for a nursing degree or nursing apprenticeship as that's the usual entry requirement. The NHS careers website will help.
ACareerChange - 11-Sep-17 @ 2:16 PM
Hi I have nvq level 2 in health and social care I really want to be a nurse I am a community care and 32 what do I need to do thank you
Sand - 9-Sep-17 @ 6:08 PM
Samira - Your Question:
I am doing ESOL. I want to be a nurse in future I don't know what I need to do? Do I need to do A level or not

Our Response:
A levels are a good way to get on to a nursing degree if you do not already have nursing qualifications or are not currently working in a healthcare/nursing related job.
ACareerChange - 6-Sep-17 @ 12:21 PM
I am doing ESOL. I want to be a nurse in future I don't know what I need to do? Do I need to do A level or not
Samira - 4-Sep-17 @ 3:55 PM
Emily - Your Question:
Hi, I'm 15 years old and wondering how I can become a oncology nurse after I leave school. I've been told about various ways to obtain an apprenticeship and degrees but I'm not sure on how to access them.

Our Response:
The UCAS website gives you all the information you need about universities that offer nursing courses and the entry requirements. This will help you choose which A levels to study. Your school's careers adviser will be able to tell you about any NHS apprenticeships offered by employers in your area.
ACareerChange - 4-Sep-17 @ 12:05 PM
Hi I’m looking to change my career to nursing but don’t know if I would be accepted I have no gcse but do have my level 3 in personal training , GP referral along with level 3 assessing and tutor would any of this help me at all along with my age of 40
Adi - 31-Aug-17 @ 12:37 PM
I am 25 I've been working in pharmacy for 5 years now I have a qualification in healthcare , nvq2 dispensing of medicines & just about to qualify as a pharmacy technician (nvq3) I'm going on to do my accuracy technicians course and register with the gphc !! However I am interested in nursing what would my next step me if i was do look at this in the next year or two ?
Tez91 - 29-Aug-17 @ 10:18 PM
Hi, i'm 15 years old and wondering how i can become a oncology nurse after i leave school. I've been told about various ways to obtain an apprenticeship and degrees but i'm not sure on how to access them.
Emily - 29-Aug-17 @ 1:18 AM
Hi iv worked in care for few years now I have health and social nvq level 2 and I'm thinking off doing nursing course would it help having health and social care already
Keeley87 - 27-Aug-17 @ 7:31 PM
Can you assist please. Just finished foundation in health social care. Where would I go next to top up to full nurse degree thank you
nat - 22-Aug-17 @ 8:18 PM
Nick - Your Question:
I'm looking at changing careers. I currently work full time in an office environment but would love to become a nurse. Previously I have spent numerous years as a Care Assistant. This was my passion as I loved helping people & always tried to make a difference. I had my children very young and am now 43, is this too old to train to be a nurse? Also how would I go about this as I am not financially in a position not to work.

Our Response:
43 is not too old. Usually the only way to become a nurse is through completing a nursing degree. There are some on-the-job training options available - for example if you start work as a nursing associate, you may have the option to move to a nursing apprenticeship and complete the degree that way. Check with the NHS to see if there are any funding options for someone in your situation.
ACareerChange - 10-Aug-17 @ 2:31 PM
I'm looking at changing careers. I currently work full time in an office environment but would love to become a nurse. Previously I have spent numerous years as a Care Assistant. This was my passion as I loved helping people & always tried to make a difference. I had my children very young and am now 43, is this too old to train to be a nurse? Also how would I go about this as I am not financially in a position not to work.
Nick - 9-Aug-17 @ 6:56 PM
Suzy - Your Question:
I'm 17 and would like to become a nurse. I have good GCSEs, but I'm not sure if I have to get a degree or whether I could do an apprenticeship in dental nursing which would give me the qualification I needed to get on the nursing course? Is the only way to become a nurse to do the full nursing degree?

Our Response:
Yes usually the only way to become a nurse is through completing a nursing degree. There are some on-the-job training options available - for example if you start work as a nursing associate, you may have the option to move to a nursing apprenticeship and complete the degree that way. Working asdental nurse may not give you the relevant qualifications to get on to a nursing course. As you're still young, it's might be worth considering doing your A levels and a nursing degree after that. Talk to your school or college careers adviser.
ACareerChange - 4-Aug-17 @ 2:22 PM
I'm 17 and would like to become a nurse. I have good GCSEs, but I'm not sure if I have to get a degree or whether I could do an apprenticeship in dental nursing which would give me the qualification I needed to get on the nursing course? Is the only way to become a nurse to do the full nursing degree?
Suzy - 2-Aug-17 @ 2:46 PM
Loulou - Your Question:
Hi I currently work in a nursing home as a cook. I am really interested in becoming a nurse. I am 36 uears old.I work 34 hours a week how do I train plus work partime. if I gave my job up to train. How would I receive any money to pay bills and support my son of 7 years old. Many thanks

Our Response:
You can get a student loan while you study and there may be additional burseries available.
ACareerChange - 2-Aug-17 @ 12:52 PM
Nektaria- Your Question:
Hello , I have a nursing assistant degree. In Greece I have worked as a nurse. I want to work as a nurse, what should I do? Which course I should to do? Many thanks

Our Response:
The NHS Careers website is probably the easiest way to find out.
ACareerChange - 2-Aug-17 @ 12:22 PM
Hi I currently work in a nursing home as a cook... I am really interested in becoming a nurse. I am 36 uears old.I work 34 hours a week how do I train plus work partime... if I gave my job up to train. How would I receive any money to pay bills and support my son of 7 years old . Many thanks
Loulou - 31-Jul-17 @ 1:36 PM
Hello , I have a nursing assistant degree. In Greece I have worked as a nurse.I want to work as a nurse, what should I do? Which course I should to do? Many thanks
Nektaria - 30-Jul-17 @ 5:49 PM
hi i would enquiring ihave applied to uni and been put in the clearing i have my nvq level 2 and 3 in health and social and have level 1 in maths and english will that be enough to meet the requirments.
gem1 - 7-Jul-17 @ 11:03 PM
Chels - Your Question:
Hi, I am looking to change careers into the medical profession. My end goal is to become a registered nurse, specifically for emergency or A&E. I have no idea where to start in this. I am from the US, where I received my BSc before moving to London and earning my MSc. I had an EMT certifications from the US, but has expired, yet I have had the experience of working in the field for my clinicals. I would like to work in a health care role while obtaining my nursing credentials. Just don't know where I should start, what certifications or qualifications I can or should obtain in the short-term or what career route I should go after. Any advice on the matter would be much appreciated. Thnx!

Our Response:
It's worth contacting the NHS as they are trialling nursing associate roles (working as nursing with option of becoming a registered nurse) and also nursing apprenticeships. Try contacting Health Education England
ACareerChange - 7-Jul-17 @ 12:40 PM
Hi, I am looking to change careers into the medical profession. My end goal is to become a registered nurse, specifically for emergency or A&E. I have no idea where to start in this. I am from the US, where I received my BSc before moving to London and earning my MSc. I had an EMT certifications from the US, but has expired, yet I have had the experience of working in the field for my clinicals. I would like to work in a health care role while obtaining my nursing credentials. Just don't know where I should start, what certifications or qualifications I can or should obtain in the short-term or what career route I should go after. Any advice on the matter would be much appreciated. Thnx!
Chels - 6-Jul-17 @ 5:23 PM
I am a carer NVQ level 3 qualified I have 4 GCSE's Science CC Eng Lit B.Had to take a Maths and English test to finish my NVQ Level 3.I want to further my career to gain a nursing degree which course can I do.I need to work while doing the course and can I get funding
G - 8-Jun-17 @ 3:07 PM
I am looking to change my career & become an aesthetic nurse. I understand I need to do a degree in adult health & then qualify to prescribe. I am trying to find a degree course in the midlands that will provide a course not just in adult health but joint also with mental health. I have 10 GCSEs at grades c & above including maths & sciences, 3 A-levels (B,C,D) a 2:1 degree, although none of my A-levels or my degree is in maths/sciences. I would love if possible to do an accelerated 2 year degree course. Can you help or have any advice?
Claire - 4-Jun-17 @ 10:14 PM
Sam - Your Question:
I am currently working as a support worker but would like to get into nursing but I know I don't have all the qualification's needed where's the best place for me to start to become a nurse any help would be great thanks

Our Response:
The UCAS websiteis a good place to start for details of nursing courses and the entry requirements. If you don't have the entry requirements necessary, then your local college will offer either NVQs or A levels etc to study first.
ACareerChange - 31-May-17 @ 10:57 AM
Hi I've completed my nvq level 2&3 in health and social care both diplomas and I'm currently in the process of being entered into my safe handling of medication aswell as my level 5 in h&s care I'm interested in going into nursing or even midwifery what are the chances of me being able to do this my gcse are terrible not sure where to turn once my qualifications are finished thanks
kee - 29-May-17 @ 8:39 PM
I am currently working as a support worker but would like to get into nursing but I know I don't have all the qualification's needed where's the best place for me to start to become a nurse any help would be great thanks
Sam - 28-May-17 @ 10:42 PM
Hy i am working like health care assistant for 2 years soon ...i like it but i wish to be able to do more like an nurse....i have only Care certificates.....what can be next steps?
Loredana - 26-May-17 @ 8:42 AM
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