Nursing is the role that little girls often dream of doing when they grow up and it is one of the most rewarding career choices. Nursing itself is full of diversity and challenges and involves acting as a carer, leader and clinician. If you like working with people and relish the thought of making a difference to someone’s life, then nursing has a lot to offer you.
So what qualities do you need?
You need to able to communicate well and be non judgemental. In addition you need to be a good listener, sympathetic and able to provide full support. Whether you are an extrovert or introvert, you’ll find there are different areas of nursing to which you may be best suited.
Individual universities vary in their requirements but generally speaking you will need to have around 5 GCSE’s with a minimum of a C pass in English language and a science subject to be eligible for a diploma programme and 5 GSCE’s and 2 A levels to be eligible for a degree programme. You will also have to demonstrate that you have numeracy skills, literacy and a good character. The diploma is actually being phased out and from September 2013 new entrants will have to study a degree course. Applicants will need to check with their preferred universities to see whether they are currently operating both the diploma and degree course or solely the degree course.
When you apply for nurse training you will be required to fill in a health questionnaire and declare any special needs you may have relating to a disability. Acceptance to a course is dependent on a clean bill of health. If you have a disability you may find it helpful to get in touch with Skill – the National Bureau For Students with Disabilities. You can visit their website or call them on 0800 328 5050.
If you have had any convictions you will have to be upfront with the university and tell them. They will also want you to sign a form to allow them to check if you hold a police record. This doesn’t mean you will automatically be prevented from joining either the nursing or midwifery profession since the university will take into account all the circumstances relating to the issue. Confidentiality will be guaranteed.
Cadet and apprenticeship schemes
There are a handful of health care providers who offer cadet or apprenticeship schemes. This means you undergo some initial training which if completed successfully will give you an NVQ level 3. You will then be able to apply to a university to take a diploma or degree course in nursing.
Where do nurses work
Nursing isn’t limited to working in hospitals. Doctors surgeries, residential and nursing homes, clinics, organisation such as hospices, occupational health services and the pharmaceutical industry all have opportunities for nurses. Nurses can also work in the military, on board a cruise ship and in university education.
Midwifery is a specialist role offering key support guiding and caring for the mother, baby and family both during pregnancy, the birth and the post natal period.
Education for nurses
A nurse will learn her education within a university with 50% of the programme consisting of supervised placements in community settings and local hospitals. Students will need to choose a field to specialise in which could be mental health, learning disabilities, children or adult nursing. All nursing will only be offered by degree level by 2013. The switch to graduate level only has been introduced to recognise the changing role of nursing which demands clinical decision making skills and a higher level of technical competence.
How much will I earn?
A nurse’s salary is determined by which ‘band’ they are on or how much experience they have. Working for the NHS a newly qualified nurse will earn barely more than £13,000 per year which is less than a shop assistant. The average nurse with a few years experience can expect to earn between £20,000 – £30,000. A highly specialised nurse can earn up to £97,000 but these jobs are few and far between. A nurse can earn considerably more money if she looks to work privately but be prepared to face a lot of competition.