Nursing and midwifery both have very important – and highly regarded – roles in public health.
Nurses support patients in a variety of ways in home, GP and hospital settings. They are trained to do everything from take a blood test to supervise medication and post-surgery recovery.
They can help people with exercise regimes, quit smoking or their mental health.
Midwives on the other hand support and guide expectant mothers through their pregnancy and – eventually – the birth.
They work at the heart of their communities providing support for mother, baby and family in both clinical and home settings.
Both professions change people’s lives – even saving lives – on a daily basis. There are few professions that have a higher calling than caring for others or bringing new life into the world.
Of course, the roles aren’t without their challenges and sacrifices, but they are also opportunities to make a lasting difference.
Where do I start?
If you’re undecided as to which route into healthcare you want to take, simply consider the different aspects of the roles. Especially as nursing – despite its catchall term – has different disciplines.
All qualified nurses must choose from four specialisms during their nursing degree (although some universities offer joint qualifications).
These are adult nursing, children’s nursing, mental health and learning disabilities.
Each offers its own unique challenges and rewards. It is also possible to change discipline once you have qualified, with the right training. So, you’re not trapped on a single path should you feel the need for a change.
Being a midwife has some parallels with nursing – such as relationship building and being responsible for the care and wellbeing of patients. However, there are crucial differences not least of which being responsible for the welfare of expectant mothers and their babies.
This includes the delicate balancing of the mother’s preferences and their wellbeing.
As a midwife you will also have the opportunity to add to your skills by specialising in certain areas, such as public health or teenage pregnancy.
What to expect
The Royal College of Nursing outlines at principles that all aspiring nurses and midwives will be expected to demonstrate. You need to be comfortable with these before you embark on your studies as you will be challenged to adhere to them.
Treat everyone in your care with dignity and humanity. Understand their individual needs, show compassion and sensitivity. Provide care in a way that respects all people equally.
Take responsibility for the care you provide and answer for your judgement and actions. Carry out those actions in a way that is agreed with by the patient, family and carers in a way that meets requirements of professional bodies and the law.
Manage risk, be vigilant to risk and help everyone be safe in the places they receive health care.
Provide and promote care that puts people at its centre. Involve patients, service users, their families and their carers in decisions. Help them make informed choices about their treatment and care.
You are to assess, record and report on treatment and care, handle information sensitively and confidentially. You need to be able to deal with complaints effectively and are conscientious in reporting the things the person or persons are concerned about.
In line with the needs of those in your care, maintain up to date knowledge and skills, using them with intelligence, insight and understanding.
Work closely with your team and other professionals to ensure the patient’s care is co-ordinated, is of a high standard and has the best possible outcome.
Lead by example and influence the way care is given in a manner that is open and respond to individual needs.
If you are comfortable working – and ultimately living – to those values, then nursing or midwifery is the career for you.
To become a nurse or midwife you need to have a degree. Entry requirements vary depending on the university but as a minimum you should have the following:
- Demonstrate evidence of literacy and numeracy
- Complete a health questionnaire and identify any special needs related to a disability
- Declare any past criminal convictions
- Allow the university to check whether you have a police record. You will not automatically be barred if you have a criminal conviction or caution. The university will consider the circumstances and will treat any information in the strictest of confidence.
- Required qualifications in England, Northern Ireland and Wales include:
- Five GCSEs including English, maths and a science (usually biology or human biology)
- Two A-levels or equivalent.
- In Scotland, one of the following is required:
- 3-5 SQA Highers plus 2 standard grades/National 5’s – this should include English and maths
- Completion of a relevant HNC/HND including English plus maths at Standard Grade/National 5 level
- Completion of an appropriate Scottish Wider Access Programme (SWAP). Access to Nursing and SWAP programmes have been specifically developed for adults who have no or few qualifications and have been out of education for some time.
Studying an Access to HE Diploma in Nursing and Midwifery
If you lack the required A Levels to be accepted into university to study nursing and midwifery, then this course is the perfect approach.
The Access to Higher Education Diploma is qualification which prepares students for study as an undergraduate at university. The diploma is designed for people who lack the necessary qualifications – such as A-Levels – to gain entry to university.
Access to HE Diplomas are recognised by over 140 universities and are tailored for your chosen area of study.
The advantage of this is the content of the course focuses specifically around the degree you want to study. In this case nursing and midwifery.
That gives you the key foundational knowledge that will prepare you for university level study.
Your studies will be broken down to cover the various aspects of nursing as well as the basics of the human body.
During the course you will cover cell biology, human nutrition, the digestive system, growth and development, the human musculo-skeletal system and approaches to health.
Other areas of study include human disease and prevention, the brain and the nervous system.
You will also get an introduction to psychology, social factors in health care, inequalities in health and illness, poverty and health and equality and diversity within health care.
Student midwives will also study the role of the midwife in intrapartum care and postnatal care.
By the time you have completed the course will be fully prepared to take the next step on your journey to becoming a nurse or midwife.
All you need to do is get in touch or sign up online. There are flexible payment terms available to help you spread the cost.
You will also have access to a dedicated tutor who will help you through the process. Check out our blog for useful tips on how to get the most out of your study experience.
Click below to sign up to learndirect’s leading nursing and midwifery courses, to give you the foundation you need to go on to achieve at university.