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If there has been anything positive to come out of the devastating events of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is perhaps the well deserved attention and appreciation given to front-line key workers and the National Health Service. The care and courage of NHS staff has been a true inspiration to us all, and has led many more people to consider entering into the profession.

In the first six months of 2020, applications for nursing degrees increased by 63% compared to the same period in the previous year. Many people are finding themselves either returning to nursing or wanting to change careers entirely during this time. If you have been inspired and are considering nursing but don’t know where to start, this blog should help you make that first step. 

What qualifications do I need to get into nursing?

This is entirely dependent on your desired route. 

In general, you will need:

  • a genuine interest in healthcare,
  • to be observant, organised and flexible,
  • relevant work experience – volunteering, a work experience placement or being employed as a healthcare assistant,
  • to be able to demonstrate evidence of literacy and numeracy skills.

Nursing degree

Duration: 3 years

To follow this route, you will typically need 5 GCSEs at grade 4 (C) or above, including English language or English literature, maths, and at least one science subject (usually biology). You will also need at least 2 A levels or a Level 3 BTEC qualification. Entry requirements differ between different universities so it is worth consulting UCAS or the university website.

Nursing degree apprenticeship

Duration: 4 years

This option enables you to continue working whilst studying towards your nursing qualifications. It is a newer qualification so there are fewer places available so it is worth checking the NHS jobs website. Applicants’ numeracy and literacy skills are assessed by the Nursing and Midwifery Council Approved Education Institution, aiming for a minimum Level 2 skill level.

Nursing associate apprenticeship

Duration: 2 years

Nursing associates bridge the gap between healthcare support workers and fully qualified nurses. Their role focuses on patient care. Nursing associate apprenticeships generally last for two years and consist of academic learning one day a week and work-based learning in a specific healthcare setting the rest of the week. To become a nursing associate apprentice you’ll need GCSE maths grade 4 (grade C) or above and GCSE English grade 4 (grade C) or above, or Functional Skills Level 2 in maths and English.

Nursing funding

In January 2020, the UK government announced the introduction of an NHS bursary benefiting those studying midwifery, nursing and other allied healthcare professions. All students studying courses in relevant professions, from September 2020, will receive at least £5,000 a year to help cover living expenses. This is not a loan so will not have to be paid back. There is also further funding available for those studying specific disciplines and these bursaries do not exempt you from Student Finance loans.

Read more about how to get the qualifications you need to kick off your nursing career in our free downloadable Career Tracks Guide: Nursing.

Nursing career tracks

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