Your nursing career starts here! Becoming a nurse is a vocation, and you certainly don't go into it because you want to earn a high salary.
Nursing is a caring career, and there are many paths you can follow. The principal role of a nurse is caring for the needs of patients and their families when they are in a hospital for an operation, recovering from illness or require post op care rather than diagnosing specific illnesses.
A nurse not only work in hospital wards as nurses can work outside of hospitals in patients homes, working in schools (as the school nurse), administering care in GP surgeries or caring for people in old peoples homes or in prisons.
Midwifery is another nursing area where midwives are the first port of call for pregnant women and handle the birth of the child and monitor postnatal issues.
The roles that a nurse can undertake are varied. Below are the main streams of career a nurse can take
The qualifications you need to become a qualified nurse are listed below.
Nursing courses are available for nurse training. The first step is to complete a pre-registration course, and there are many available throughout the UK. Although there are no minimum qualifications required, usually 5 GCSEs at grade C or above are needed to study a diploma course, and with these set by the United Kingdom Central Council (UKCC). Universities and colleges have their own criteria.
You can take a degree course at university with placements in hospitals and the course is made up of 50% exams with theory and 50% working practice. Like all degrees it lasts for three years with the first year introducing common nursing principles called a Common Foundation Programme. Then you choose with area you wish to specialise in such as disabilities, adult or child care or mental health. Courses to become a midwife follow the same pattern. Learn more about becoming a nurse at the Royal College of Nursing website here.
Unlike most students, nurses are not required to pay university tuition fees as these are covered by bursaries from the NHS and are non-repayable. They are paid in monthly instalments and can be up to £3,715 if you are not income assessed. You may also be entitled to child care allowance, parents learning allowance and dependents allowance depending on your circumstances.
One of the specialisms to follow is to become an adult nurse. The main role is to care for the patients' welfare whilst recovering from operations and to administer any drugs required. You'll also take blood pressure, temperatures and urine samples. Most adult nurses work in local hospitals although you can work in residential care homes and in schools.
Over 35,000 midwives are working in the UK caring for pregnant woman and offering postnatal care. Midwives also help deliver babies, but their principal role is to offer advice during the pregnancy.
All midwives in the UK are required to be registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) Training to be a midwife is undertaken at approved universities through degree programmes which last for 3 years. The focus is on understanding a pregnant woman's needs and if there may be any complications during the pregnancy and labour. At least 50% of the training is with actual pregnant women, their babies and families so you need to want to work directly with people and have a calm demeanour. Learn more about becoming a midwife at the NMC website here.
There is a new nursing pay scale under the "Agenda for Change scheme". At the very bottom of the scale are clinical support workers that start at band 2 (£15,404 plus any weighting - see below) with most newly qualified nurses and midwives starting at band 5. Each year you'll move up to the next scale pay point within the band until you reach the top of the band you are in.
These are the current nursing pay scales in England. Scotland has a similar structure with higher pay levels.
Here are examples of some of the roles in each of the pay scales.
There are higher cost area supplements or weighting scales for staff based in or around the London Area.
Full information on nurses pay is contained on the NHS Careers website found here
Once you have qualified as a nurse you may wish to further your career in many of the senior positions offered. The most senior positions are a modern matron managing a ward or the most senior is a nurse consultant. Other career promotions include nurse specialist, nursing team manager and midwife team manager or higher level. There really are vast opportunities to develop your career in nursing.