Nursing Qualifications – How do you become a nurse?

If you’re the type of person who enjoys caring for others, nursing might be an ideal career for you. In the UK, nurses have a broad range of medical responsibilities. Some choose to specialize in a particular field, such as paediatrics, public health, or sexual health. Knowing more about the required nursing qualifications can set you on the right path towards your career goal.

Nursing Qualifications - How do you become a nurse?

All nurses now need a degree Long gone are the days when a nursing diploma was available. Today, you need to complete a BSc in Nursing to become a nurse. In order to do this, you may need the following prerequisites: 

  • 5 GCSES at Grades A – C. This will definitely include maths and English, but may also require science.
  • A Levels: You’re likely to need two or three, with one in a science subject. Alternatively, you may be able to use Open University modules or an Access to Nursing diploma.
  • References: This can come from a previous employer or a tutor.
  • A clear criminal record: Some crimes are permitted, such as speeding, but many will bar you from becoming a nurse.
  • Work experience: Some of the more prestigious nursing programmes may ask for work experience in a healthcare setting.

As part of the nursing degree, you’ll spend 40-50% of your time in a classroom and 50-60% of your time in a hospital. There are various types of nursing degree available:

  • BScs in adult, child, or mental health nursing are the most common
  • Some BScs in learning disabilities, public health, and other specialties are available
  • In some cases, you can convert from an undergraduate degree to complete a PGDip in nursing. This is an accelerated route lasting for 2 – 2.5 years. Otherwise, nursing degrees last for three years.

Funding is available from the NHS for nursing degrees, whether you’ve already completed a degree or not. This may also include expenses for travelling to placements, which you can claim back. Nurses also receive tax rebates for uniform expenditure.

Further training for nurses

A nursing BSc will build on several basic foundations. This includes core clinical skills, infection control, managing medicines, anatomy and physiology, and public health. If you decide you’d like to engage in further training or specialize in a particular field, there are numerous postgraduate opportunities available. This includes:

  • Advanced nursing practice: This is one of the more common master’s programmes available to nurses. It can lead to higher pay bands and greater responsibilities.
  • Specialising in a topic: For example, you might want to look at public health, sexual health, teenage health, or even humanitarian nursing.
  • Drug prescribing: It’s becoming increasingly more common for non-doctor healthcare professionals to prescribe drugs. However, for this to happen, you do need to take on additional training at postgraduate level.

The nature of healthcare is constantly changing, which means many nurses engage in ongoing training. When such opportunities arise, they ensure your career as a nurse is never dull, and always enriching.