As the long-serving matron of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, I'm sure you'll agree I'm fairly well-placed to offer some advice to muggles on how to successfully start a career as a nurse. So here are my magical tips for those considering spending their lives caring for others.
1. Study hard for your O.W.Ls
Hufflepuff student Hannah Abbot didn’t apply for my job as Matron at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry when I retired without knuckling down and securing herself some good OWL grades.
The same applies to all muggles currently studying for their GCSEs, as you’ll need at least five passes at grade C or above to be considered for a nursing course at university. These grades are crucial, as all nurses must now hold a degree to enter the profession.
While effective revision sessions are key during exam time, try not to overdo it and remember to take breaks in-between. I once had to give Hannah a Calming Potion after she broke down in a Herbology class one day, claiming she was too stupid to sit her OWLs.
Studential provides some useful tips on revising for your GCSEs to ensure this stage of getting to a career in nursing goes as smoothly as possible.
Please note that some universities ask for specific grades in GCSE subjects (usually Science and Maths). For example, the University of Glasgow ask for an A or B in GCSE Chemistry if the candidate does not hold an A level in this subject. So muggles are likely to benefit from doing extra swotting up on these subjects during Year 11.
2. Choose the right N.E.W.Ts
After being pulled out of Hogwarts following the death of her mother and missing the sixth year of study at Hogwarts, Hannah returned for her seventh year and completed her education by sitting N.E.W.T-level exams. After graduating, this later allowed her to train as a healer and apply for my position.
In the muggle world, nursing degrees will also normally ask for at least two A levels as part of their entry requirements, although many request three. Take a look at the individual entry requirements for each university you are considering apply to and check exactly what they expect you to have.
Some institutions, such as the University of Edinburgh, are fairly specific about their entry requirements for programmes. For their adult nursing programme, they currently ask for ABB at A level, plus GCSEs in Biology or Double Science and Mathematics at grade B, and English at grade C. Other places, such as the University of Leeds, only ask for BBB at A level (preferably including at least one science subject) and anything above a grade C for GCSEs.
So if you’re looking to apply to a particular university, find out if you need to take certain subjects at A level to be considered. However, a science subject such as Biology or Chemistry will be an extremely useful foundation for your nursing studies, so it’s worth considering taking one of these.
For muggles not set to follow an A level route, find out what other qualifications are accepted for entry on to nursing courses. Unlike the world of witchcraft and wizardry, where we just have O.W.Ls and N.E.W.Ts, there are a lot of course choices available in further education.
These days many universities will happily offer places to candidates with an International Baccalaureate, BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma, Access to Higher Education Diploma, or Foundation Programme.
If you’re planning on doing one of these instead of A levels, make sure you apply to study the correct subjects/topics that will allow you to submit a UCAS application for a nursing degree.
3. Regrow some bones
Being a nurse is no easy task (it definitely hasn’t been during my time at Hogwarts!), so it’s important for muggles to get some experience under their belt as soon as possible to help them decide whether it’s really the right career path for them.
OK, so while you won’t have to regrow bones, treat werewolf bites or remove cat whiskers from people’s faces, it’s important to realise that nursing is a huge responsibility, with patients placing their care completely in your hands.
Work experience also shows you are enthusiastic about nursing and committed to a career in the field. You can use examples of what you learn to back up your university application, but we’ll talk about this more in step number four.
At some of the UK’s top universities, work experience in a caring environment for over one week is mandatory to be considered for a place on the course.
Muggles can apply for experience in a number of ways, although a good place to start looking is your local NHS Trust, hospital or health centre. Ask them to put you in touch with their human resources, voluntary or training department, and enquire about applying for work experience.
It’s important to note here that in the muggle world, there are several different branches of nursing: Adult, Children, Learning Disability and Mental Health. The NHS explains what each one involves in more detail. Once you’ve done some investigation and decided which area(s) appeal to you most, then you can try to obtain experience in something you’ll enjoy.
If you’re not sure which branch you might want to go into, then apply for experience in different areas.
Whatever experience you end up completing, it will help you convey to universities in your application that you understand what a nurse’s role involves, and that you are well suited to this particular career.
4. Put the university admissions tutors under a spell
By this I don’t slipping them a good dose of love potion.
Yes, you need to wow the admissions tutors, but muggles have to do this via a brilliant UCAS personal statement that will make them stand out from the crowd (sorry, but no magic can help you here!).
Nursing is a very competitive degree course, with over over 100,000 people applying for undergraduate spaces in 2014, so you’ll have to pull something amazing out of the Sorting Hat to give yourself a chance of getting in.
How successful your personal statement will be depends heavily on step number three. This is because experience is vital for providing specific examples that back up your claims of being a caring, motivated, communicative, etc. individual.
Over the years, I’ve tried to recruit a ward assistant at Hogwarts, but it’s surprising how few of the applications I receive fail to relate enough about their previous healing experience. This means I’ve only had the odd witch or wizard help me out, and spent most of my career at Hogwarts looking after the pupils and teachers on my own.
As well as talking about your experience, you’ll need to demonstrate your knowledge and skills through your current studies, and delegate a small section of the end of your statement to what you plan to do in the future (hopefully work somewhere as a nurse!).
Studential has some magical resources to help you put together a spell-binding statement, including:
- Analysis of an example statement
- Personal statement advice from a teacher
- 10 Personal statement don'ts
- Personal statement template
- Personal statement editing services
5. Prepare for an interview with Rita Skeeter
This is your best bet for making sure your nursing interview is an owl-screeching success.
If nursing application muggles read Harry Potter’s Goblet of Fire adventures, and think they could survive a round with this slippery journalist, then they will have no problem passing their university interview with flying colours.
Let’s face it – you won’t have to endure rude lines of questioning, being called a liar or the admissions tutors covertly digging dirt on you by turning into a beetle, so how bad can it be?
While interviews are often dreaded by many prospective nursing students, preparation is key to making sure you give your best performance on the day. Muggles should read their personal statement again thoroughly, as you need to be able to answer any question you might be asked about it.
Jotting down the following will also be extremely helpful:
- Examples that demonstrate your relevant skills, knowledge and experience
- What you enjoy in particular about your current studies and the field of nursing
- Your plans once you leave university.
Studential very helpfully provide some example nursing interview questions for you to practice with, including:
- Why do you want to become a Child/Adult/Mental Health nurse?
- What do you know about the Nursing and Midwifery Council?
- What qualities do you think make a good nurse?
- Why is teamwork important?
- How would you handle challenging patients?
At the end of the day, admissions tutors want to see that you are passionate about becoming a nurse, are committed to the field, and can demonstrate you have all the correct attributes to do well on their course.
If you do your preparation with this in mind, you’ll have a decent chance at being offered a place.
I’ve had the misfortune of bumping into Ms Skeeter several times while working at Hogwarts, and trust me, if you can deal with her you can deal with anyone!
6. Become a Matron
Or in muggle terms, a nurse.
Applying for jobs once you graduate is the next hurdle in your nursing career path, but at this point, you’re well on your way to making it as the next Madam Poppy Pomfrey.
Since there are no magic quick-fixes in the muggle universe, nursing job applications can usually be broken down into three parts that you will have to plod through without the convenience of a wand:
If the post asks you to fill one of these out, make sure you read any instructions carefully before you start, and check carefully once you’ve completed it for spelling, punctuation and grammar errors, or any information you may have entered incorrectly.
Overall, it needs to be clear, concise and legible, otherwise it might end up in the rejection pile straight away if the employer cannot even read or understand what you have written.
A targeted CV will help persuade an employer that you are the right candidate for the job.
It should be put together in a professional manner using a word processing programme, be no more than two A4 pages in length, and include the following sections:
- Personal details
- Professional education (i.e. your professional Nurse practitioner training)
- Professional/practice experience
- Other work experience
- Interests and hobbies
If you’re asked to write a cover letter to support your application, use these points as a guide to setting it out and making sure it’s likely to have a positive impact:
Address your letter to a named person. Email or call the employer to find out this information if necessary.
If there is no designated section on an application form to put your supporting information, you will have to include it as an entirely separate cover letter. This is important, as a CV on its own only provides people with facts about you, and nothing else.
Remember you are a nurse – this means you are a medical professional, and the way you write your letter to market yourself should reflect this accordingly.
Read the job description and person specification carefully, and make sure your letter revolves around this information. Give specific examples of your skills, knowledge and abilities that clearly demonstrate you have everything required to successfully perform the role being advertised.
Once you have addressed all the points outlined in the person specification and job description, talk about any other relevant skills or experience that will help you stand out as a great candidate.
State clearly why you are applying for the post, and why you want to work in this particular environment. If it is a new setting you are applying to, explain how your skills are transferable. Again, make sure you back up everything you say with examples.
Make yourself a friendly, approachable, yet interesting applicant – try not to sound arrogant or overly-ambitious in your letter, and remember that you are a caring professional that can bring value to the employer’s organisation.
Some good places to start looking for nursing vacancies if you’re a muggle in your final year of your degree include:
- NHS Jobs
- NHS Professionals
- Department of Health
- NHS Careers
- Health Services Journal
- British Nursing
- British Nursing Association
- Nursing Agency
- BUPA Careers
I wish all potential nursing muggles the absolute best with their path to making it as a matron. Hopefully my advice gained from over 30 years’ experience at Hogwarts helps to steer you all in the right direction, and that even without magic, you can still have a spellbinding career as a nurse.
As a parting gift, here are some things that muggles call “websites” where you can find more magical nuggets of information about a career in nursing. Happy healing!