A nurse will care for patients who are ill or who have suffered an injury. It is their job to observe patients and to decide upon any change in care necessary. This will be done under the supervision of a Doctor. A nurse may be found in several different work settings. A hospital nurse would perform activities like checking temperatures and giving injections, while a mental health nurse would offer support and comfort to patients suffering from conditions such as depression. An occupational health nurse would help to maintain health and well-being in a work setting. Nurses can even partake in treatments like laser hair removal dependent on what area they decide to enter.
In order to become a nurse you will need to attain a Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) certified degree or Diploma of Higher Education in Nursing (specialising in adult or mental branch, for example). Courses usually last two or three years. If you are already a graduate in an area related to nursing you may be able complete a two year postgraduate course. Certified courses can be found on the NMC website. The educational route will vary for different nurse occupations.
In order to get onto a nursing course you will need clearance from the Criminal Records Bureau. Also, you will need to be able to show you are of sound mind. Evidence of recent study will also be required. A nursing diploma will accept students with five GCSEs graded A-C, preferably in english and mathematics. A nursing degree will require the same GCSE results and also two or three A Levels. You may be able to get funding for expenses. You should check the NHS Student Bursaries website for details. The diploma and degree will combine theoretical and practical teaching through hospital and community clinical placements.
Nursing courses will include a great level of work experience. However, it is a good idea to get work experience while still at college to improve your chance of getting on to a nursing course. You can try your local NHS Trust for any available placements or get in contact with a local hospital or community clinic.
Career pathway after graduation
After graduation you may choose to work in the NHS or for a private clinic. Nurses working in the community, in positions such as mental health, would typically need to take a Specialist Practitioner Community Mental Health Nursing course. The NMC website has details. With experience a nurse may progress to the position of sister, ward manager or team leader. Registration with the NMC will need to be renewed every three years to remain a certified nurse.