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How do I Become a Nurse?

To work as a nurse, you need a degree in nursing and you must be registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC)- the Nursing governing body. You’ll need to choose which of the four nursing specialisms (adult, children, mental health, or learning disability) you’d like to study. Nursing requires a high level of technical competence and clinical decision-making skills.
You will also have to:

  • Demonstrate evidence of literacy and numeracy

  • Complete a health questionnaire and identify any special needs related to a disability

  • Declare any past criminal convictions

  • Allow the university to check whether you have a police record. You will not automatically be barred if you have a criminal conviction or caution. The university will take into account the circumstances and will treat any information in the strictest of confidence

  • If you’re already working as a health care assistant, speak to your employer as they may support you to meet the entrance requirements through an apprentice scheme


Nurse Talking to Patient_edited.jpg
The course itself  
Most courses offered in the UK by Universities are a minimum of 3 years. The course itself is usually a mixture of 50% theory (learning within the University setting via lectures, workshops etc) and 50% working in a variety of clinical practice settings while under the supervision of a practice assessor (a registered nurse supervisor).
Getting a place on the course
You will need to apply for a place of Nursing degree course. You can visit each university’s website to learn more about the content of a particular course. You might want to go along to an open day to get more information on the course and talk to lecturers and current students. Once you have decided on your course and university, you can apply for a place through UCAS. If you are employed in the health sector, your employer may support you to study part-time for a nursing degree.
You can find more information on which Universities offer nursing courses from the link below
Each university sets its own requirements, so make sure you check with them before applying. This is usually around five GCSEs at grade C or above plus two A-levels or equivalent. Some Universities accept the ‘access to nursing courses’ which are offered by many local further education colleges within local areas.

Funding for your nursing degree

Since 1 August 2017 new students will have pay tuition fees in England on most nursing, midwifery and allied health professional pre-registration courses. The amount for each year study varies between Universities. New students have access to the standard student support package of tuition fee loans and support for living costs, rather than getting an NHS bursary. The Department of Health have published information on NHS bursary reform on their website.


Royal College of Nursing (2019) Become a nurse: Advice on beginning your nursing career. Available at: Accessed: 13th January 2019

Nursing and Midwifery Council (2019) Becoming a nurse: How to become a nurse and find a course in the UK. Available at: Accessed: 13th January 2019
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