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What GCSEs Do I Need to Become a Nurse?

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30th December 21

Nurses are compassionate individuals that combine their healthcare knowledge with a genuine desire to help others. They play a crucial role in the UK’s National Health Service (NHS), and there are various roles within nursing that you can pursue.

As a nurse, you’ll be working alongside a team of healthcare professionals to improve the health and wellbeing of your patients. You will provide the medical treatment prescribed by doctors and be part of a support system for patients and their families.

Hospitals can be a cause of anxiety for many, regardless of their condition, and it’s part of your role to provide comfort and reassurance, but before you get to the stage where you’re able to make a difference in people’s lives you need to get qualified via a recognised Nurse course.

GCSEs are usually the first step you should tick off the list before embarking on a Nurse course. GCSEs are nationally recognised qualifications that are often required for university study. So, if you’re lacking relevant GCSEs, or don’t have any at all, getting into a nursing degree programme could be a challenge.

However, that doesn’t mean it’s too late to get started. Whatever stage you’re at in life, or the qualifications you’re lacking, you can still realise your ambition of becoming a Nurse. Below, we have outlined the GCSEs you need, as well as further qualifications you can gain through online nursing courses.

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Getting into University to Study a Nurse Course

Getting onto an undergraduate degree programme requires a range of academic qualifications to support your application, and each university can set its own requirements so double-check your desired institutes before applying for their Nurse course.

It’s important to remember that minimum requirements can differ depending on the type of nursing degree too. So, keep your desired career trajectory in mind when choosing what Nurse course to take.

Mental health nursing, adult nursing or paediatric nursing all require slightly different skill sets, which means different requirements. For example, an early years diploma would be relevant for paediatric nursing but unnecessary for mental health nursing. In this case, a Psychology GCSE or A Level would be far more relevant.

That being said, the most common minimum requirements for nursing degrees are:

It’s also not uncommon for universities to ask for GCSE Biology, and they might even ask for 3 A Levels too. It’s best to aim above the minimum to give yourself a better chance of securing a place on your chosen Nurse course.

Universities are also seeing the value in life experience. Although experience alone won’t be enough to get you onto a Nurse course, it can definitely help support your application.

What You’ll Learn in GCSE English

Studying English GCSE will develop your literacy skills, which believe it or not, is incredibly important for studying a Nurse course. Despite nursing being a vocational degree, you’ll still need to demonstrate your knowledge through academic writing, as well as be able to make sense of the academic writing itself.

Throughout your English GCSE, you will gain the skills needed to confidently pursue your career and eventually enrol on nursing courses online. When you become a Nurse, you will have to effectively communicate and understand the key principles of the English language and grammar.

By the end of your English GCSE, you’ll be able to:

  • Read fluently, and with a good understanding
  • Read and evaluate texts critically and make comparisons between texts
  • Summarise and synthesise information or ideas from texts
  • Write effectively and coherently using Standard English appropriately
  • Use grammar correctly
  • Punctuate and spell accurately
  • Acquire and apply a wide vocabulary
  • Listen to and understand spoken language
  • Use spoken Standard English effectively

What You’ll Learn in GCSE Maths

Just like in English, having a fundamental understanding of mathematical principles is essential. Numeracy skills are just as important as your literacy skills in any circumstance, not just as a Nurse.

Through your GCSE Maths course, you’ll develop skills in:

  • Problem-solving
  • Logical thinking
  • Algebra
  • Proportions
  • Geometry
  • Statistics
  • Reading and analysing graphs, charts, and data
  • Understanding ratios, proportion, and rates of change

What You’ll Learn in GCSE Biology

GCSE Biology will cover key principles of human biology which will give you foundational knowledge for degree-level study as well as any online nursing courses you enrol on. By having developed a fundamental understanding of the main concepts of human biology it will be easier to build upon when you study a Nurse course at university.

When you complete GCSE Biology you’ll have gained:

  • An understanding of the main sub-cellular structures and their functions
  • The ability to explain how the structure of different types of cell relates to their function
  • A fundamental understanding of cell division, chromosomes, and mitosis
  • The ability to describe the function of stem cells
  • An understanding of the definition and functions of diffusion and osmosis
  • Knowledge of the human digestive system, heart, and blood vessels
  • Knowledge of health issues including heart disease and cancers

Studying Your GCSE Online Course from Home

It’s now possible to enrol online rather than attend a physical college to complete your GCSEs. So, if you’re wanting to get back into education but your other commitments are holding you back, here’s the solution.

Online learning providers are held to the same standard as their bricks and mortar counterpart. This is because Ofqual regulates all GCSEs no matter who provides them. They maintain the quality of learning and the standard of assessment across the board.

Online learning offers the flexibility that physical colleges lack. You’re able to engage with your studies at a pace and place that suits you.

You won’t have to rearrange your schedule to make sure you’re able to attend class. Instead, you can open your laptop whenever you have time and continue learning.

It’s important to keep in mind that GCSE exams are in May/June. You want to make sure you give yourself enough time to get through everything and revise too.

An experienced tutor will be provided to support you throughout your learning journey. They’ll mark your assignments, provide constructive feedback, and help you prepare for your exams, as well as offer any extra assistance where needed.

Don’t let your busy schedule get in the way of achieving your goals and going on to study an accredited Nurse course.

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Next Steps After GCSEs

While GCSEs are crucial to enrol on a Nurse course at university, you will need to obtain additional qualifications after that. The next step can take you down one of two avenues. You can either study A Levels or an Access to Higher Education Diploma, both of which are delivered online with learndirect.

A Levels

In the same manner that you studied online GCSEs, you can go on to enrol study A Levels from the comfort of your own home. Some universities will specify the A Levels you need to apply for a Nurse course at their establishment. We boast a wide range of A-level courses, all of which you can complete via our industry-leading learning platform.

While A Levels may be the traditional route to university after GCSEs, it is possible to study a degree in nursing without these qualifications. Instead, you can study an Access to Higher Education Diploma.

Access to HE Diplomas

For those of you who want to get to university in less than 12 months and would like to study nursing courses online that provide you with essential job-specific knowledge, then we have the solution. The Access to Higher Education Diploma (Nursing) is an accredited online course that will get you prepared for a Nurse course at university.

This online nursing course comprises of a variety of modules, covering a wealth of topics, including:

  • Health and wellbeing
  • Cell biology
  • Human nutrition
  • Roles and responsibilities of a registered Nurse
  • Psychology
  • Nervous system
  • Social factors in health and social care
  • Dementia

You will also explore the following topics in this Nurse course:

  • Human muscular and skeletal system
  • Classification and use of social drugs and medicines
  • Mental health and illness
  • Human immunity
  • Poverty
  • Health promotion
  • Human disease
  • Equality and diversity in healthcare

Unlike A Levels, you do not have to take an exam to achieve your Access to HE Diploma. Instead, you will complete a series of assignments based on the modules studied during your Nurse course. Each assignment will be marked by an experienced tutor, who will provide constructive feedback, enabling you to progress through to the next phase of your Access course for nursing.

You will need to achieve a total of 60 credits, with 45 taken from graded units that focus on academic subjects, and the remaining 15 from ungraded units, such as study skills. As well as providing you with nursing knowledge, this Nurse course will also teach you how to write assignments for degree-level study.

Get Prepared for Your Nurse Course Today!

Whatever qualifications you need to get you ready to apply for a nursing degree, we can help. learndirect is one of the UK’s leading online course providers. We offer a range of online GCSEs, A Levels and Access to Higher Education Diplomas.

There are many reasons to become a Nurse, and whether you want to become a Nurse without A Levels or you are starting from scratch and have GCSEs to study, then enrol on one of our courses. With the knowledge and recognised qualifications gained from our distance learning options, you will be prepared to study a Nurse course at university.

To find out more information about the GCSEs you need to become a Nurse, or what online nursing courses we provide, call one of our Course Executives on 01202 006 464. Alternatively, contact us online if you’re ready to take the next step towards realising your ambitions!

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