Should I Become a Nurse?

Few jobs are more noble than nursing. To be a nurse is to commit yourself fully to the cause of healing and helping others.

A day in the life of an average British nurse is liable to be one filled with chaos as they race from one place to another. They try to keep doctors appraised and patients appeased.

Even so, it’s worth it to be able to say that you’ve really made a difference in people’s lives. Looking after the injured, assisting seniors or caring for those with special needs. There is no denying they are one of the great humanitarian pillars of society.

With that in mind, here’s how you can get into nursing in the UK.

University Qualifications Needed to Become a Nurse

First, you’ll need to have the necessary academic qualifications. Different universities set their own entry criteria. Generally, you will need at least two (preferably three) A-levels. In addition, you’ll need GCSEs in English, Maths, and at least one in Science, usually Biology.

Other necessary factors for entry include:

  • Being able to demonstrate basic literacy and numeracy skills
  • A health questionnaire, where you can declare any disability or special needs you may have
  • A declaration of any prior criminal convictions. These will not automatically bar you, and universities may be willing to consider the circumstances and context of any past incidents

The UK needs nurses, and as a result, you may be able to get funding for your career path. As of September 2020, students will be able to apply for £5,000 to £8,000 in assistance to help with their undergraduate and graduate nursing studies. Better still, these loans do not need to be repaid. Every nursing student is eligible for £5,000. An additional £1,000 is available for:

  • Students studying disability nursing or mental health
  • Those coming from areas of the UK with low recruitment rates for nursing and nursing courses
  • Students in need of assistance with childcare costs

Nursing Qualifications

To become a certified nurse in the UK, you’ll need to complete a nursing degree and register with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC). In addition, you’ll need to choose one of the four main nursing specialisms, as described below.

Whichever one you choose, you have to obtain a degree of technical competence related to your field. Nurses also have to make fast, informed decisions. Thus, good decision-making skills are another vital prerequisite for nursing.

The NHS Careers website has more information on specific nursing degrees in England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. It may be advisable to go to an open day at one of these universities. You can ask questions of students and professors to get a better sense of what studying for nursing entails and what student life is like at the campus in question.

Once you have made your selection, you can apply via UCAS. If you already work in the health sector, your employer may be able to help get you set up to study for a nursing degree on a part-time basis.

One way to do this is by applying for a nursing apprenticeship. The standards for these apprenticeships are NHS-approved. They offer a more flexible route for becoming a nurse for those who don’t wish to study full-time at university or are transferring from a previous health-related position. That said, nursing apprentices will still be required to study at a degree level in keeping with the NMC’s standards.

A nursing degree apprenticeship will typically take four years. However, if you have prior applicable learning or experience, you may be able to get some of this recognised via APEL, which can help give you credit for that and, thus, help you obtain your apprenticeship in less time.

Exploring Your Specialisms

There are four nursing specialisms: 

  • Adults: These nurses are trained to work with patients aged 18 and over. They can work in a variety of settings. This includes hospitals, health centres, nursing homes, and in people’s homes as part of private care. After qualifying, they can further specialise in fields such as women’s health, cancer care, and emergency and critical care. In addition, these nurses can also train to become school nurses.
  • Children: These nurses train to work with children and young people as old as 19 years of age. They can work in any number of settings, including child hospitals, schools, and baby care units. Child nurses need to understand the unique ways children can relate to illness and how they can assist them. Skill with and passion for working with children is essential. In addition, child nurses must also be skilled in supporting and advising parents.
  • Mental Health: These nurses care for those with mental health conditions in their homes as well as at hospitals and specialist centres. The sensitive nature of this position requires an extra degree of empathy and even greater amounts of patience and communication skills than in typical nursing. Mental health nurses often work with both the patient as well as the family to ensure the former and latter get the support they need. They can further specialise in fields such as adolescent mental health or working with those with substance abuse issues.
  • Learning Disabilities: These nurses strive to help those with learning disabilities live the fullest and most independent lives possible. Each patient is different, and the nature and extent of the learning disability will impact the type of assistance necessary. For example, they may work at schools with students who have learning disabilities to help them get the most out of their education and realise their full potential. They may also work in special centres for those with specific learning disabilities. Examples of disabilities include patients with epilepsy issues or those who suffer from sensory impairment.

Nursing Responsibilities

The responsibilities of nurses are varied and present fresh challenges every day. Among the responsibilities and tasks you can expect to face as a nurse in the UK are:

  • Writing patient care plans and implementing them
  • Preparing patients for operations
  • Taking patients’ blood pressure, pulse, and temperature while keeping accurate records of each
  • Treating open wounds
  • Checking and administering drugs, including tablets, liquid medicines, and injections
  • Hooking up IVs for intravenous treatments and blood transfusions
  • Assisting doctors as necessary 
  • Responding quickly and making snap decisions in an emergency
  • Provide reassurance to patients, parents, and family members
  • Prepare discharge papers
  • Maintain patients’ privacy and observe strict patient-nurse confidentiality at all times
  • Organising staff meetings and handling paperwork
  • Helping to educate patients about health issues (e.g, the importance of quitting smoking, the negative influence drugs can have on their health, the dangers of obesity, and so on)

In addition, once you become a qualified nurse, you will be expected to be a good role model and mentor to student and junior nurses. Remember the long road you took to get to this point and provide the assistance you received (or wish you had received) to those seeking to tread that same path.

Pay Progression

The UK needs more nurses. In September 2018, the NHS had roughly 42,000 unfilled nursing vacancies.

This has led to increased attention to nurses salaries. Our nurses do some of the most important humanitarian work in the country, and deserve to be paid accordingly.

Thankfully, the pay progression scale for nurses has improved in recent years.

A fully-qualified nurse can expect to make a starting salary of roughly £24,200. This fluctuates by location, with London, in particular, attracting higher salaries. Further up the pay scale, a nurse operating within the Band 5 of the NHS Agenda for Change can expect to make closer to £30,100.

With experience, that number climbs still further. At Band 6, salaries move up to a range of around £30,400 to £37,200. The most senior-level nurses, such as those in Bands 7 and 8C, can see a huge range of salary fluctuation, with earners here making anywhere from £37,600 to £72,600.

Of course, for as important as that pay progression is, the true reward for nursing isn’t the pounds you make, but the difference you make in patients’ lives.

More Content

Make sure to have a look at our other articles on a range of degrees and much more at the following link:  https://examqa.com/articles/

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