How To Become A Nurse In The UK

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Basically, there are 2 options available to you if you choose to become a nurse. You can either take a diploma course or a degree course through a selected university, with the coursework forming 50% practical and 50% theory in most cases.

The diploma course takes approximately 3 years to complete, while degree courses may take either 3 or 4 years to complete (4 years in Scotland). Once you have qualified as a nurse it is possible to work in hospitals, GP surgeries, different types of clinics, nursing or residential homes amongst others. Some nurses also work within the Prison Service, Armed Forces or even on leisure cruise ships, if they are fortunate enough to obtain such a position.

The Role

The role of a nurse is to focus on the needs of individuals rather than specialising in specific diseases, illnesses or conditions. The modern day nurse will also be available to provide care, counselling and guidance to families and individuals whenever there is a requirement for this. Working as Nurse is a highly rewarding career, which will benefit you both professionally and personally. Not only do Nurses have license to practice the most up to date and modern medical treatments, but they will see things which most people might never experience in their career. These experiences can be both good and bad, but ultimately they make you a stronger and better professional.

During your first year of training you will focus on the Common Foundation Programme, which introduces students to the basic principles of nursing.

Once this year is complete you will then specialise in one of the following areas:

• Adult Nursing

• Children’s Nursing

• Mental Health Nursing

• Learning Disability Nursing

Health Visitor Talking To Mother With Young Baby


This area of nursing currently holds the most opportunities for qualified staff.  Your choice of areas to work in will be huge, including hospitals, people’s homes, nursing homes or healthcare centres.

  • Once you have completed your training and become an accredited nurse you may then decide to further specialise in different areas such as women’s health or accident and emergency, to name but a few.
  • Many hospitals also provide nurses with accommodation, which means you can travel and work throughout the country if your personal circumstances allow. This gives you the benefit of gaining more experience in different premises or fields.
  • Nursing is one of the most diverse careers around, and this is a huge reason that many people get into the profession.
  • Due to its diversity, Nursing provides its practitioners with a wide range of opportunities that might not be available in other jobs.


There is a huge difference between adult nursing and children’s nursing.

  • If you qualify as a children’s nurse then you can expect to be working with children up to the age of 18 years. You’ll need to take a different approach to these individuals, depending on their age and mental state.
  • It’s important to understand that children have particular needs, that are different to those of adults. Thus means that your nursing skills will need to be specialised.
  • Not only will you be required to look after the needs of children but you also must be able to advise and support their parents or guardians if required.
  • This type of nursing role can be challenging but the rewards can be great. Once you have qualified as a children’s nurse you can then also further qualify or specialise in different areas such as intensive care, burns or child protection to name just a few.


Currently, approximately 3% of the UK population have learning disabilities and therefore require special attention, which is provided by nurses who have specialised in this field.

  • Usually 3 to 4 people with learning disabilities will live in the same house or premise and they will be provided with 24-hour care and support.
  • As some individuals may require constant 24-hour care, support and supervision, you may find that as a qualified nurse specialising in this area you are looking after one specific individual.


As a qualified and trained mental health nurse you will find that you are working closely with GPs, social workers and psychiatrists to co-ordinate the care of those people who suffer with a mental health illness.

  • Most people who have a mental health illness live in the community and care is usually provided within their homes or health centres.
  • Once you have specialised within this field it is possible to further train in areas such as rehabilitation, substance misuse or even working with offenders. Obviously these are highly challenging roles and your training will reflect this.


The Nursing and Midwifery Council is the UK regulatory body for nurses,  midwives and health care visitors. The NMC’s key roles with regard to nursing are to set standards and guidelines for the nursing profession, provide an advisory service on professional standards, undertake quality assurance through the accreditation of nursing education provision at higher education institutions, and to maintain a register of all nurses in the UK.

Registration with the NMC is mandatory for all practising UK nurses and completion of an accredited nursing degree or diploma course will qualify you for NMC registration.nurseOf course, once you have successfully qualified as a nurse you will have to attend an interview. This is where many people fail and despite having the qualifications to become a nurse they do not know how to pass an interview. Make sure you brush up fully on your nursing interview techniques before you apply for you nursing post.

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