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How to become a Nurse

25th August 20

A career in nursing can be a very rewarding role for caring individuals that wish to help others.

Of course, nursing requires you to have deep understanding of healthcare but you’ll also be a support system for patients as well.

You’ll be in charge of making sure patients are comfortable and at ease throughout the treatment. Not to mention helping families understand and adapt to any changes that a patient’s stay in the hospital brings.

The NHS are currently seeking to fill over 40,000 nursing vacancies, so there’s ample opportunity for employment across the UK.

And within nursing there is also the opportunity to specialise in broad range of areas. You could go into mental health nursing, supporting the community and becoming a nurse practitioner to name but a few.

So, if you’re considering a career as a nurse, now would be an ideal time to start.

Whatever your current situation and academic experience may be you can still realise those ambitions. If you have the determination to succeed, then just follow the route that’s right for you.

Read on to find out what options you have when choosing a course to get into nursing.

Learndirect - What Course should I study to beomce a Nurse - University


To become a qualified nurse, you must study nursing at degree level.

An undergraduate degree in nursing is a requirement to practice. It makes sure you have the in-depth knowledge needed to properly care for patients.

Nursing apprenticeships are also a possible route into nursing. You’ll learn on the job training whilst also having to study towards a qualification. Although, it can be tough finding an employer to take you on.

However, the most common route into nursing would be through university.

The degree in nursing usually lasts 4 years and must be certified by the Nursing and Midwifery Council.

Entry requirements will vary for these courses as each university can set their own criteria.

Most of them will require GCSE English, maths and preferably biology as well. It’s a standard requirement for most universities to ask for maths and English GCSEs grade C/4 or above. This is to prove you have the literary and numerical capabilities to work at a high standard of learning.

Assuming you have GCSEs then you’ll still need to carry on with your education before applying to university. There are a few options in further education that can get you into a nursing degree programme.

Learndirect - What Course should I study to beomce a Nurse - A Levels

A levels

A Levels are the most common route into university for UK students. With most universities asking for 2 (preferably 3) A Levels to apply for their courses.

Most universities will expect one of your A Levels to be in biology, with the second (and third) in a relevant subject.

By already covering aspects of human biology it puts you in a good position to be accepted onto a nursing degree.

Social sciences such as psychology or sociology are considered relevant areas of study. The sciences are obviously are a logical choice but aren’t considered essential.

The great thing about A Levels is that you can study a range of subjects to make your learning more well-rounded. As you’ll be covering a lot of different topics that you’re interested in, the over-all experience could be more enjoyable.

However, it can be time consuming to get all the relevant qualifications. It would take you 2 years of full-time study at a physical college to get three A Levels.

Or you could study online. Online learning gives you the opportunity to complete the course in a shorter time period. Most online students complete their course within the year. But we wouldn’t recommend enrolling on more than one at a time on top of all your other commitments.

Learndirect - What Course should I study to beomce a Nurse - Access to HE

Access to Higher Education Diploma

An Access to Higher Education Diploma (Nursing) is a great alternative. It’s a level 3 qualification so equivalent to A Level study.

But instead of taking multiple courses you only need to take one. This is ideal if you want to move forward with your studies as quickly as possible.

The Access to HE Diploma is designed for anyone who wants to get into nursing but lacks relevant qualifications.  

The course is fully accredited and will cover everything you need to know ahead of your undergraduate studies including:

  • Cell biology
  • Human nutrition
  • The digestive system
  • Growth and development
  • Approaches to health
  • Human disease and prevention
  • The nervous system

The course content is highly relevant to give you the best possible start at university.

Though most universities accept the Access to HE Diploma, some do not. Double-check with your desired university before applying.

Foundation Degree

A foundation degree is not dissimilar to the Access to HE Diploma. As the focused course content aims to get you onto an undergraduate degree programme.

The main difference being the cost of the course which is substantially more.

Post Graduate Diploma

If you have already completed a degree in a related subject, then you may be eligible for a post-graduate diploma. The related subject could be a BSc or a BA.

A post graduate diploma takes 2 years to complete after which you’ll be a fully qualified nurse.


There isn’t a one size fits all route into nursing. So, you’ll have to decide what works best for you.

But with determination and dedication you can achieve your ambitions at any point in your life. Even if you’re 20 years into a career, it’s never too late.

So, if you’re ready to start learning have a look at our online courses today. Through learndirect you can choose to study relevant A Levels or the Access to HE Diploma in nursing.

As one of the UK’s leading online learning providers you’ll have expert tutors to guide you through your studies. As well as flexible payment options to help you spread the cost.

For more helpful tips on how to prepare for your online studies read our blog here.

Get in touch with one of our advisors to find out more or click below to enrol now.

Learndirect - What Course should I study to beomce a Nurse - Enrol Today

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