As a nurse, you will have the opportunity to work with medical professionals providing world-leading care to individuals from all walks of life.
Nurses operate across the entire spectrum of the healthcare system ranging from mental health to cardiac and ICU. Without nurses, the health service would grind to a halt. They are, without question, utterly indispensable to the smooth running of hospitals through the care they provide.
If you are considering training to become a nurse, then you are about to embark on a career like few others.
In no small part because few careers are as rewarding as being a nurse. Or offer such a wide variety of opportunities for training, progression or diversifying into other areas.
Of course, working as a nurse means there are going to be some difficult days. Not only will there be tragedies, but you’ll also see some patients at their very lowest.
It can difficult and upsetting so you need to be confident you can detach yourself, stay professional and maintain your mental health.
On the good days, however, you will make a difference to everyone you come into contact with. You can help to make a diagnosis so the patient can receive treatment. Or could take action that directly saves a life.
But before you make your decision one way or the other, here are some things to consider.
What kind of Nurse can I be?
Like training to be a doctor, training to be a nurse gives you the opportunity to specialise in the area of medicine that interests you.
This includes, but isn’t limited to:
- Sexual Health Nurse
- Community Nurse
- Research Nurse
- Care home or hospice nursing
- School Nurse
- Paramedic Nurse
- Forensic nursing
Knowing what kind of nurse you’d like to be will help you to focus your energies. It will also help you with your personal statement and nursing school interview when it’s time to apply.
However, once you’re qualified there is absolutely nothing stopping you from retraining. In fact, there is real benefit to the NHS if its nurses are continually learning and developing.
Starting a career in alcohol and drug treatment before moving into community nursing brings with it insight. You would spot signs of substance misuse perhaps before someone without that useful experience.
This can lead to getting the individual into treatment sooner rather than later.
There is also an added benefit that the more qualified you are the greater your earning potential.
How do I become a qualified Nurse?
To practice as a qualified, registered nurse you need to have passed a nursing degree. Gaining the right qualifications and applying can take time.
This is in part because the universities and the health service want capable, competent and dedicated nurses working in their hospitals and doctors surgeries.
Over 50,000 people apply to the 87 nursing schools in the UK every year. From that intake, just 20,000 students graduate. To secure a place at a nursing school you need to meet the criteria from an academic standpoint. You also need to produce an outstanding personal statement and do well in your interview.
The process is deliberately hard and there’s a reason only 40% of applicants graduate.
However, before you can start eyeing up employment opportunities, you need to complete your qualifications. You will need to complete a nursing degree from an accredited university.
There’s no right or wrong choice here, it’s entirely down to your preference. An Access to Higher Education Diploma (Nursing) is specifically crafted to give you all the knowledge you need to study a degree in nursing.
The course is developed in partnership with the nursing schools to meet their stringent requirements. You can be confident that you’ll be on a good footing to start your degree with a solid foundation of knowledge. On average learners take about 9-12 months to complete an Access to Higher Education Diploma (Nursing).
A Levels are the more traditional route. Universities will expect you to study biology, chemistry and one other subject. Psychology or sociology are generally accepted as physics is less relevant to nursing than training to be a doctor.
A Levels do take longer – on average a year per course if studying part-time. However, you will get a broader education across the subjects. Although while interesting, it won’t necessarily give you the edge over someone with an Access to Higher Education Diploma.
While A Levels will give you broader theoretical knowledge, the diploma will prepare you specifically for nursing.
Either way, the best thing to help your application is to study hard and achieve good grades.
But, bear in mind, qualifications, while important, are just part of your application to nursing school. Your grades will be very similar to the other applicant. The nursing schools are looking for more than academic acumen – they are looking for the right people.
Which is where your personal statement and interview will come into play.
Nursing Personal Statement
Your personal statement is one of the most important documents you will write in your academic career. It is your opportunity to speak directly to the admissions board or head of faculty about why they should pick you.
Remember, a high proportion of applicants get rejected so your nursing application needs to exude passion for the role.
Talk about what motivated you to become a nurse and the interest you have in your chosen branch of nursing. You can use this as a way of demonstrating your knowledge of nursing and healthcare.
Bear in mind that the nursing schools aren’t looking for the finished article, rather someone with potential and passion.
Include your practical experience and how it applies to the course and your future career. Highlight any research or learning you have completed also. This will demonstrate your active interest in medicine and healthcare.
Most importantly, be honest and authentic. Admissions read thousands of applications and if you want to get noticed you need to be you and no one else.
It also goes without saying that you shouldn’t copy anyone else’s personal statement. UCAS keeps a copy of every personal statement ever submitted and they compare every application against that archive to make sure nothing has been copied.
Start your Learning Today
If you want to be a nurse but lack the relevant qualifications to enrol on a nursing degree course, we can help. learndirect is the leading UK online course provider offering a wide range of courses to help you achieve your goals.
We provide a wide range of online A-level courses that could help your university application. Equally, our Access to Higher Education Diploma (Nursing) will give you all the knowledge you need to start a nursing degree. Click the link below to learn more.
To learn more about online learning, check out our blog.