A newly-qualified nurse student stands with her nursing colleagues

How can I become a nurse?

We often get calls at Selection Healthcare from young people (and some older ones too!) asking how to go about doing their nursing training and become a fully-qualified Registered Nurse.

This handy guide will give you all the information you need to take your first step into a challenging yet rewarding career.

Step 1 – Choose your specialism

There are four different nursing specialisms in the UK. Every nurse – from newly-qualified nurses to nursing directors – is registered under one of these specialisms. They are:

  • Adult Nursing
  • Mental Health
  • Learning Disabilities
  • Children’s Nursing (sometimes called paediatrics)

Before you begin your nurse training, you’ll need to decide which of these four areas you want to specialise in. Some universities will offer ‘dual’ courses, which will allow you to train in two specialisms at the same time.

Step 2 – Find a course

In order to become a nurse, you’ll first have to complete a nursing degree by taking a course approved by the NMC (Nursing & Midwifery Council). This is the regulatory body for nursing within the United Kingdom.

The NHS Coursefinder is a good tool to help you find a suitable course.

Step 3 – Check the entry requirements

Each university which offers a nursing course sets its own entry criteria so it’s best to check with them directly, however most courses will require 2 to 3 A Levels (or equivalent) and at least 5 GCSEs including English and Mathematics.

Step 4 – Funding

There are currently no bursaries available for nursing students in the UK, so you’ll have to go down the regular funding routes for your course – you can find lots of information on The Funding Clinic‘s website.

Step 5 – Training

Once you’ve chosen your specialism and selected the right nursing degree course for you, you should be able to qualify in around three years if you’re studying full time.

This will involve spending roughly 50% of your time doing university-based learning – attending lectures and seminars with senior nurses and clinical professionals, spending one-on-one time with a tutor and completing essays and assignments in your own time.

The other 50% of your time will be spent on supervised placements to hone your clinical skills and gain real hands-on experience with patients – this might be in a hospital, a nursing home, in a community setting or most likely a variety of environments split across shorter placements.

Step 6 – Registration

Upon successful completion of your nursing degree, you will be qualified to become a Registered Nurse.

The final step is to join the NMC Register – if you’re not on the NMC Register, you cannot legally work as a nurse in the UK, even if you have completed your degree.

From there, the world really is your oyster. While nursing is a challenging and high-pressured job which can often be incredibly tiring, you’ll also have the satisfaction of knowing you genuinely change many lives on a daily basis. Nurses trained in the UK are also among the most highly-skilled in the world, meaning you’ll be able to put your training into practice just about anywhere.

Useful Links

NMC – The Nursing & Midwifery Council
RCN – The Royal College of Nursing
NHS Careers

Nursing, Resources