How to Become a Nurse
Are you compelled to help people? Are you caring, patient and kind? Then nursing could be the career for you. With a diverse variety of specialisms and multiple opportunities at entry level through to postgraduate posts, nursing offers a varied, challenging and rewarding career path within the healthcare system.
What Does A Nurse Do?
Nurses care for patients who are sick, injured or who have disabilities. There are numerous different types of nursing specialisms, but typical day-to-day tasks may include general patient care, carrying out initial patient assessments, taking patients’ temperatures, blood pressures and pulse rates, administering medication, cleaning and dressing wounds, assisting doctors and other healthcare professionals and advising patients and their relatives.
Nurses can choose to specialise in Adult Nursing, Paediatrics/Children’s Nursing, Mental Health Nursing, and Learning Disability Nursing. Within each of these core specialisms, there are many different disciplines such as accident and emergency, practice nursing, cancer care, women’s health, intensive care, school nursing or health visiting.
How Much Does A Nurse Earn?
How much you earn will depend on what type of nursing you choose to do and whether you work for the NHS or a private organisation.
As a nurse in the NHS, your salary will increase as you gain more experience within your pay band. You can move up to a higher pay band by applying for a different role within that banding. You would normally need to demonstrate professional development and gain further qualifications to achieve this.
What Qualifications Do You Need To Become A Nurse?
If you want to know how to become a nurse, firstly, you’ll need a nursing degree, and you must be a registered nurse with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC). You are required to choose your core specialism before you begin your studies.
Nursing degree courses require a level of technical competence and clinical decision-making skills. Courses are usually split between academic learning and supervised training placements in hospitals and community settings.
What Skills Do You Need To Become A Nurse?
Nurses are highly skilled professionals and need a wide range of different skills. To become a nurse, you need to be empathetic and sensitive to the needs of others, be able to work well with other people, be meticulous in your attention to detail, have patience, be able to stay calm in stressful and unpredictable situations and work well under pressure.
Communication skills are essential. You will need good customer service skills and computer literacy. Some knowledge of psychology is also desirable.
Is It Helpful To Gain Work Experience Before Becoming A Nurse?
Gaining work experience in a healthcare setting will help you understand whether nursing is the right career path for you. You might consider finding work experience in a hospital, a care home, a mental health unit or within a charity, as all these settings will provide insight into what it’s like to do a caring job and whether you share the values of the NHS Constitution.
UCAS advises that universities like to see applicants with evidence of work experience or voluntary work in a health or social care setting. The more experience and evidence you can demonstrate, the stronger your application will be.
To gain understanding of what’s involved in undertaking a nursing course, it is helpful to attend university open days.
Career Pathways For A Nurse
A nursing career can take many directions. Newly qualified nurse jobs include a wide range of specialisms. Jobs in nursing can be part-time or full time, and there are various levels of seniority.