Nurse Careers

How to Become a nurse

At the core of a career in nursing is patient care. Not the salary, the work you do, nor the colleagues you work with. Everything you do must be centred on patient care. The main characteristic you must have is to be a people person. You need to be approachable to both patients and your work colleagues. It’s rare for a nurse to work independently.

Become a Nurse

There may be opportunities to work as a school nurse, where you’re primarily responsible for the healthcare of children, dealing with cuts, bruises, and possibly even sprains, but you still need to work well with others.

In that example of the school nurse, you’d need to be required to work with children in a calm and reassuring manner, and be able to communicate effectively with parents.

The other aspect nurses are involved in is community support.

There’s a society element to patient care, so when you do observe an obscure situation which raises concern for patient well-being, it’s important to understand the care of duty you have towards patient care, and know the procedures for reporting your concerns. That could be reporting to a senior nurse, and filling out detailed reports for care providers and the regulatory authorities.

Part of a nurses job can see you working with different government agencies, such as the local council, and social services. There’s definitely more to being a nurse than first meets the eye. The usual perception is the nurse in the local doctor surgery. Taking care of bandages, dressings, monitoring and reporting blood pressure, and tending to minor ailments of patients. That’s only a part of the job patients see, but the actual work involved is much more than that. There’s reports to be filled out, training on the use of appropriate equipment, and plenty of knowledge surrounding possible ailments that may need further investigation by a qualified doctor, or perhaps advice on making an appointment with an optometrist or dentist, depending on the symptoms patients experience. An understanding of human anatomy is required, as consistent headaches could be attributed to eyesight problems, or toothache. Both can be considered minor ailments, but may become more serious if they’re not tended to by the appropriate practitioner expertise.

Nurses are trained to identify possible risks to patient healthcare, and to provide advice when symptoms are reported. That’s why the training for nurses and acceptance into the career, requires pre-entry qualifications to degree level, and not available as vocational qualifications. Planning your career is a vital component that ensures that you qualify in the field of nursing you plan to work in.

The different types of nursing categories available include:

  • Mental Health Nurse
  • Practice Nurse
  • Adult Nurse
  • Community Matron
  • Learning Disability Nurse
  • Community Nurse
  • Occupational Health Nurse
  • Children’s Nurse
  • School Nurse

Consideration to the type of nurse you want to become should be done prior to enrolling in any nurse training courses, to ensure you qualify in your preferred field, working with a group of patients you have a high interest in taking charge of their primary care. This should involve questioning your motive to become a nurse. If you want to take care of elderly patients and work in a nursing home, then studying in the general practitioner course may not be the best option. Mental health could help as it will cover topics such as dementia, Alzheimer’s and other age related concerns surrounding mental health and patient requirements in the field you specialise within.

The type of degree you obtain will have a direct impact on the work you become qualified to do.

Nurse Training

It is possible to train to be a nurse at any point in your life. University places and apprenticeships are available to anyone over the age of 16 years.

By starting a new career and training to be a nurse you are turning your life in a whole new, and very rewarding direction. Sometimes it is not until we have “lived a little” that we realise we are looking for a career with real responsibility and a sense of self worth.

Nurse Training

For this reason it is not unusual for mature students to be seen on nursing training courses, looking to train to be a nurse and start a new and exciting career.

Some universities and higher education providers accept previous related degrees such as biological science, social science and health studies as a start to your nursing degree or diploma, thus allowing you to move ahead more quickly with your training.

One of the main benefits of training to be a nurse is the variety of positions available to you at the end of your training. It is possible to work in a hospital, travel out and about in the community, work in a school or train for a specialist discipline and work focus on one key area such as pediatrics, mental healthcare or surgery.

How long does it take to train to be a nurse?

The amount of time it takes to train to become a nurse varies. Nursing degrees can be studied for on a full or part time basis. Depending on which route you take will affect the overall amount of time that it takes to complete the training.  Full time courses range from 2 years (for accelerated courses) through to 4 years. Part time courses will take longer.

What are the entry requirements for Nurse Training?

The entry requirements for nurse training courses at university vary between institutions.

Most universities require a minimum of 5 A-C grade GCSE’s (including English & Science). In addition you will normally need at least 2 (preferably 3) A levels (Biology A level is preferable).

Some universities will also accept you on to nurse training degree courses if you have either a BTEC National Diploma or an International Baccalaureates. There are no upper age limits for those looking to study to become a nurse.

Nurse Jobs

Nursing is a challenging but very rewarding career, if you want to work with and meet lots of different people and you want to work in an environment that is interesting where every day is different; becoming a Nurse might be the career for you!

To be employed as a nurse by the NHS you will need to be registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Council and do this you will need to have either a diploma or a degree in nursing.

Nursing Jobs

Working as a Nurse in the NHS will see you working in various different settings, such as; hospitals, clinics, GP surgeries, patients homes, schools, prisons and so on. Once you are a part of the NHS you can begin to benefit from the flexible working hours, job satisfaction and support from other staff. As well as the opportunity to progress up the career ladder by reaching ward manager level, you could manage teams and some nurses even pursue the career of a consultant.

Some general nurses choose to specialise in a particular health topic or choose to work with a specific age group. We shall look at some of these roles in a bit more detail now

Adult Nurses

As an adult nurse you would work with adults both young and old all with very different health conditions. You would be required to use your caring, counselling, managing skills in order to make sure that the patient receives the appropriate care that they need. You would be likely to work shifts within the 24 hour period.

Mental Health Nurse

This is a valuable role, one which deals with both personality and psychological disorders of patients. As a mental health nurse you may work on a psychiatric ward, within the community visiting patients in their homes, in clinics, prisons and so on. The role is covers a broad topic so you could find yourself working in many different settings. Again this is usually shift work within the 24 hour period.

Children’s Nurse

As a nurse who specialises in working with children, you will be trained to work with children of all ages from birth to teenagers. This covers a large range of health problems from heart difficulties in babies, to broken limbs and accidents to child protection issues. Being a childrens nurse will see you working in various environments from hospitals, to children’s clinics, to schools and sometimes even at the child’s home.

Again this tends to be shift work that is anytime within the 24 hour time frame. This is only a few of the nursing jobs that are actually available, there are of course many more. You might be interested in others and you can learn more about these by visiting the NHS careers website. You can find information on a learning disability nurse, or district nurse, school nurse, prison nurse or health care assistant.

There are many routes that your initial nurse training can take you which is why nursing is such an interesting career.

What can a nurse earn?

A newly qualified fresh from university nurse will earn no less than £21,176 (2010/11). There is also an additional weighting for those working in inner and outer London. Inner London workers can receive up to an extra 20% while those who work in outer London can receive an extra 15%. There is also a fringe payment available.

What skills do I need to get nurse jobs?

In addition to the official qualifications required to become a nurse there are also several skills and attributes that will come in useful if you wish to be successful in your career. As a nurse you will need a good degree of compassion and empathy to be able to effectively discharge your duties. Communication skills will also be essential. In addition you should be hardworking and motivated.

The job of a nurse can be physically challenging and at times can involve long hours. Nursing can ultimately be a very rewarding career, providing a high degree of job satisfaction in addition to job security.