No matter which avenue of nursing you’re looking to pursue, every would-be nurse must complete certain academic steps to become a registered nurse. There is growing variation in how you can achieve certain elements. But, currently, completing an approved degree in nursing is a required step to qualify.
While there is great demand for nurses in the UK, getting a place in nursing school isn’t easy. Besides being extremely competitive, the entry requirements are high to ensure the next intake of trainee nurses are skilled and capable.
You’ll need to demonstrate in different ways that you have what it takes to become a great nurse. And this isn’t just ticking the boxes of certain qualifications. You’ll also need to display the personal characteristics that successful nurses possess which enable them to work effectively.
If you’re considering applying to nursing school, there are certain things you can do to get prepared in advance. Find out more about what these are and what you would need to secure a place in nursing school below.
Meet the Entry Requirements
Every nurse working in the UK has to be registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Council. They are the professional regulator for both nurses and midwives in the UK. As well as all nursing associates in England.
By having this regulatory system, they can ensure that nursing practices remain safe, effective, and kind and continue to improve health and well-being.
As such, each nursing education and training programme in the UK is run by their approved educational institutions. And to get into their nursing schools, you’ll need to meet their academic entry requirements. As well as their requirements for health and character.
Qualifications-wise, this used to be a strict combination of A Levels and GCSEs. You would have needed:
- 5 GCSEs at grades 4 (C) or above which includes Maths, English and sometimes Biology.
- 2+ A Levels in subjects relevant to nursing.
However, now the qualifications you can obtain in pre-nursing school are much broader. Giving you more flexibility and control over your learning journey.
Some of the courses you can take in place of GCSEs and A Levels are Functional Skills courses and Access to Higher Education Diplomas. The latter of which can go in place of three separate A-level qualifications, saving you considerable study time.
Once you’re ready for university, you need to choose an approved degree in your chosen area of nursing. This can be in child nursing, adult nursing, special educational needs nursing or mental health nursing.
Practice for Entry Level Exams
You may find that your chosen university has an entry-level exam that you need to complete prior to acceptance. These tend to test you on English and maths topics. As you’ll need to have excellent communication, literacy and mathematical skills as a nurse.
This is because working out drug calculations, and administering IV medicines and blood products utilise these skills. As does your interactions with patients and the wider network of health professionals.
If you’re feeling nervous about these and want to practice ahead of time, you can research previous exam questions online. Finding and completing these before your official ones take place helps you better understand what is expected of you. It also enables you to come up with good examples and scenarios you can provide in advance. So, you’re better prepared on the day.
Be Enthusiastic on Your Application
Part of the process of getting a place in nursing school is submitting your application. This needs to communicate to the reviewing panel why they should choose you over other applicants vying for a place.
In the personal statement section of the application, you’ll need to get across your passion for nursing. As well as all the relevant experience – both life and professional - you feel will make you a better nurse. Such as instances that prove you’re compassionate and empathetic to others.
This is also a good opportunity to provide evidence of desirable skills and character traits. Like your ability to communicate and work well within a team.
Another tip is to go on some of the NHS trust websites and look at their trust values. These will no doubt be relevant themes throughout healthcare and nursing. So, relate to a few of them within your application, how you demonstrate them and how they would make you a good nurse.
There’s a lot of competition for nursing places, so it’s really important you write a compelling statement in your application.
Prepare for Your Interview
Similarly, to your application, your interview is a prime opportunity to show the nursing school why you deserve a place. And while you won’t know exactly what you’ll be asked, interviews often follow similar formats.
You can prepare ahead of time by researching common questions asked in nursing interviews and practising your answers. You need to be enthusiastic in your responses to get across how you feel about nursing as a profession. It’s also a good idea to have examples at the ready of how you demonstrate certain desirable skills.
You may also be quizzed on current hot topics in the nursing field like healthcare investigations and other newsworthy happenings. So, it’s wise to read up on relevant news and developments in the sector so you can discuss topical issues. Even if you aren’t quizzed on it, bringing current sector news into your answers helps show the interviewer that you’re invested in nursing.
Places in nursing schools are highly competitive. So, anything you can do to better align yourself with the role will go in your favour. Getting experience is a great way to do this. As it builds your practical skills and helps you make connections in healthcare.
Try to find community service or volunteering opportunities in a healthcare setting. Hospitals tend to have open volunteer opportunities across numerous departments. Giving you chance to work in anything from the emergency department to childcare wards.
Getting experience doesn’t just give you hands-on skills, it helps you make connections with professionals that can assist you in your career. Volunteer supervisors can be an incredible resource, as can the teachers of previous health and science courses you’ve taken.
Asking them to write a letter of recommendation will help make your application for nursing school more memorable and demonstrate your commitment. So, it’s well worth taking the time to gain some unpaid experience.
Get Started Online
If you’re just about to embark on the learning journey to get into nursing school, we can help. learndirect is the leading UK distance learning provider. With many online courses to help you meet university entry requirements.
Our Access to Higher Education Diploma (Nursing) teaches you essential, targeted topics that are important for all nursing degrees. So much so that it removes the need for multiple A Level qualifications, allowing you to reach university much faster.
You can complete the materials at a time that suits you. A flexible approach enables most students to complete their courses within nine months. The course should ideally help you apply to nurse school within a year.
If you’re ready to take the next step, find out more about the course by clicking the link below.