How To Become A Nurse

Considering applying for a nursing degree at university? Our guide will help you decide whether it's the right choice for you, and what's involved in a typical Nursing undergraduate course.

Why become a nurse?

If you are thinking about studying nursing with a view to qualifying as a registered nurse, you may wonder what attracts people to the profession. There are a number of reasons, with the main being:

  • You are given the chance to save people’s lives and dramatically improve them on a daily basis. The people who you care for may not have been able to recover if it weren’t for the work that you did, and this means that your job satisfaction levels should be high. Nursing is a job that really does make a difference, and lots of people are attracted to that aspect of it.
  • You will always have a job. Although it may be difficult to get jobs in hospitals sometimes, which is where you may want to work after qualifying, there are other places that you can work with a nursing degree, including care homes and certain schools, meaning that you will always be able to put your skills to good use somehow, and this means that you shouldn’t struggle to stay in work.
  • You will be challenged on a daily basis. Some people don’t like jobs that are too easy, and nursing is definitely a challenge. No two days will be the same, and you will be working at an incredibly fast pace, which is something that attracts a lot of people to the profession.
  • You will be able to progress if you wish, but it’s by no means essential. In nursing, there are different bands that you can work through, along with other different jobs that you can progress to if you wish. That being said, many people are happy working as a general nurse for the whole of their career, and the job gives you the chance to do this if you would prefer to.

If you're eligible, you can also receive at least £5,000 in financial support for every year of your degree, which doesn't have to be repaid once you graduate.

Where can I study nursing?

There are a huge number of universities offering nursing degrees, so no matter whether you would like to find somewhere in your local area or if you would prefer to work further afield, you are certain to be able to find something that will suit you perfectly.

There are lots of things that you will need to consider when applying, and the hospitals that your university is linked with is one of them.

It is a lot easier to get a job somewhere that you have had a placement, so if you know where you might like to live in the future, this may be a good place to try and study if you can.

To find a nursing course that's right for you, visit the NHS Course Finder or go to the undergraduate degree finder over at UCAS.

How do I apply for a nursing degree?

All nursing degree applications in the UK are made through UCAS, where you can browse through all the nursing courses currently on offer.

Some universities will also have part-time nursing degree courses, although we recommend you check the individual university's website to find out more about their applications for part-time students.

From January 2021, some universities are offering adult nursing courses where the theoretical content is mainly delivered online, offering a flexible option for those who wish to fit their studies around other commitments. You can search for the courses, sometimes called 'blended' courses, at the NHS course finder.

As part of your nursing application for university, you will need to submit a personal statement, which is a piece of creative writing that explains why you want to study nursing and why you are a suitable candidate for this specific field of study.

To help you with this, we suggest looking through the nursing personal statement examples on this page, as well as our top rated statements, for inspiration.

If you're struggling to complete it or just feel it needs more of a polish, take a look at our personal statement editing services, where our professional editors can help you make your statement stand out from the crowd.

You can also read our tips and advice further down this page.

What will I learn on my nursing course?

You will learn lots of things, both practical and academic.

There is a lot of on-site placement involved, more so than with most other courses, so if you think that you are the type of person who learns best while on the job, then this could be something that is perfect for you.

You will be taught about many aspects of care, including scientific information about health conditions and the best way to approach patients in different scenarios.

Thanks to the fact that you will be coming into contact with such a wide range of different people, you will be taught a lot about how to interact and communicate effectively, which will assure the best possible outcome for all parties, including staff, patients and relatives. The lessons that you learn here are valuable for all aspects of life.

In addition to the practical side of nursing, you will also be expected to complete assignments and presentations, and the course will therefore teach you the skills needed to do this effectively.

Again, this is something that is incredibly helpful in the future, if you choose to go onto further study.

With nursing, it is likely that you will need to complete assignments as a part of your personal development, so the skills that you learn here can be carried into the future, too.

The presentations that you give will undoubtedly help you to develop your confidence, and this means that you will have much more of an ability to stand up and speak in front of people. This is an essential skill when dealing with hospital visitors and trying to relay information that you have been given by other members of staff who are working with you on the ward.

What are the entry requirements for nursing?

When you are applying for a nursing course, you will find that each course is different, however there are some things that you will most likely need no matter where you decide to apply to.

Firstly, you will need to have at least 5 GCSEs which should include maths and English. Both of these are important on the majority of degree courses.

Most courses demand at least two A Levels, though certain courses may have higher requirements, and may ask for specific grades.

As you will have to attend a nursing interview for your place, academic achievements may not be as highly demanded, because they will have had another chance to see how well suited you are for the course.

What branches of nursing can I apply for?

There are four major roles in nursing, which are:

You will have the choice of either applying for a specialist course right away, or studying general nursing and then narrowing the field later.

If you’re not entirely sure about what you would like to do, the latter choice may be a better option for you.

How do I write a nursing personal statement?

Like all personal statements, it's best to start by jotting down some notes about you, your current studies and other activities outside of school/college to help you put together a first draft. Think about the following:

  • Why do you want to study nursing at university? What is about the course and profession that interests/motivates you?
  • How do your current studies relate to the course and how might the subjects you are studying help you to be successful in your nursing degree?
  • What relevant work experience have you completed or have organised in the near future that makes you a good candidate? What did you learn from it in terms of skills and knowledge?
  • How might your extracurricular activities and/or hobbies outside of your academic studies help you with your nursing studies? What skills, knowledge and experience have you gained, such as teamwork and communication, prove useful in a nursing environment?
  • What do you hope to do with your nursing degree once you have completed it? Try to be specific here, but if you're still not sure exactly what sort of nursing role you hope to apply for, try to at least show you have some idea of what you are going to do once you have left university.

Admissions tutors want to see you have thought carefully about your subject choice and that you have presented yourself in the best possible light to demonstrate why you would make an excellent student on their nursing course.

For more help and advice on writing your nursing personal statement, take a look at these resources at Studential:

What can I do after my nurse training?

When you graduate with a nursing degree, you are qualified to start applying for jobs within a professional environment.

You are free to apply anywhere you like, though you may have more luck applying somewhere where you have completed a placement, as you will already have a rapport with the other staff on the ward, in addition to the knowledge about how the ward works, which can be invaluable.

The great news is that nursing is one of the few jobs that allows you specific entry into a role upon graduation without further training being needed – so it is certain that the hard work will soon pay off.

Nursing is now also the UK's most employable type of degree, with a huge 94% of students getting a job within 6 months of completing their course.

Further information and resources