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A Career Guide to Becoming a Nurse

Published: Thursday 19th December 2019

As a registered nurse, you can enjoy a diverse and rewarding career that makes a real difference to people’s lives. Furthermore, nursing is one of the most diverse careers out thereso you’ll enjoy plenty of opportunities to work in a variety of fields. Along with the NHS, clinics and nursing/residential homes, nurse jobs exist in the armed forces and prison service to name just a few specialist nursing niches

Beautiful young female medical doctor is looking at camera and smiling while her colleagues are sitting in the background

The role of a nurse can be highly varied, but essentially, nurses are there to focus on the needs of the patient, providing medical support and care, while monitoring progress, administering treatments and operating equipment in collaboration with other medical personnel. As part of the job, nurses are often required to provide support and counselling to the patient’s family also. 

Nurse training 

If a career in nursing appeals to you, you can train enter the profession by completing a degree at an Approved Educational Institution (AEI)This is a prerequisite to register with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC)  which you need to do if you want to practice. Although some students do start out on an apprenticeship, they must demonstrate the same high standards as those that have gone the degree route. 

Medical team listening in conference room in hospital

The degree course can take three to four years, with the first year of training consisting of Common Foundation Training – an introduction to the basic principles of nursing. Students will then to choose to focus on one of four key areas: 

  • Adult Nursing – This option has the most opportunities for qualified staff in general hospitals, nursing homes, private clinics and healthcare centres. 
  • Children Nursing – Here, not only will you be dealing with children, you’ll be interacting with their parents/guardians also. Many nurses in this category go onto specialise in areas such as intensive care, burns or child protection. 
  • Mental Health Nursing – These roles may involve working in a care home or visiting people in the community. 
  • Learning Disability Nursing – Many people with learning disabilities live in shared households where they may require round-the-clock attention from a qualified nurse.  

female doctor,surgeon,nurse,pharmacy with stethoscope on hospital holding clipboard,writing a prescription,Medical Exam,Healthcare and medical concept,test results,vintage color,selective focus

Once training is complete, as an accredited nurse practitioner, you can then choose to specialise further, for example, in A&E, or women’s health, or social work. 

A career for life 

Whatever area you go into, nursing isn’t easy. It takes a certain type of person to care for other people. You’ll need to be highly empathetic with excellent interpersonal skills as you’ll be constantly interacting with patients, family members, other medical professionals, and the general public. Most of all, you’ll need to be resilient, especially with patients undergoing difficult treatments. Shift work and long hours are commonplace, including nights and weekends. This is why the best nurses are meticulous, diligent and excellent problem-solvers, even after a long shift. Most experienced nurses will tell you that a good sense of humour will be a big help.  

Group portrait of healthcare workers in hospital corridor

If you think you have what it takes, you will be very employable: 94% of nursing graduates find a job within six months of qualifying. You can get an idea of salary with a quick search on Zoek for both temporary and full time nursing jobs. However, most nurses will start on a salary around £23,000, with the average nurse earning £27,000 per annum. Specialised nurses can earn much more. 

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