A nurse is one of the most important people within a hospital, and the medical profession as a whole, and training to become one can be a valuable and life-changing experience. The nurses that keep patients fit and healthy have trained for a number of years, in a number of different routes, and most specialise in one area that they have taken extra training in.
To qualify nurses must study for a three year degree or diploma in nursing. At this stage they can usually decide what kind of area of nursing they would like to train in from Adult, Child, Learning Disabilities, Mental Health and Midwifery.
The most common route onto a degree course is via a university, and institutions such as Middlesex University offer the full range of nursing courses to choose from. To get on the course, nurses will hold other qualifications such as GCSEs or A Levels in science-related subjects, as well as other subjects such as Psychology or Behavioural Studies.
Apprenticeships are also available from the government for health support roles, if applicants lack the necessary supporting qualifications, however this route usually requires trainees to take the degree course as their careers develop.
Learning on the job
At this point, qualifying nurses will enter a mixture of classroom and practical learning. Within the classroom nurses who are specialising in other areas may share classes, but generally will be taught in their separate specialisations. The practical learning involves supervised work experience within a hospital environment, where nurses can get to grips with real-life medical problems.
During a student nurse’s first year they will generally have less practical learning, and as they develop into the third year there will be less classroom teaching, and more learning on the job, in complex situations such as on the accident and emergency ward. Student nurses will get paid for the work experience they do too.
After completing the degree course, all newly qualified nurses must register as a qualified nurse with the Nursing and Midwifery Council to be able to work in the UK. At this point, nurses can apply for roles relevant to them within the NHS and private healthcare. Nurses can take extra courses to specialise in certain areas of healthcare, and can even work their way up to qualify as a director of nursing or nurse consultant, which requires additional examinations.