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          Helping you find a career in the nursing industry

          Nurses are an invaluable part of the UK's healthcare system and they're always high in demand. It's an incredibly rewarding career choice, where every day you will be having a positive effect on someone's mental or physical wellbeing.

          Broadly, a nurse's work consists of assessing, diagnosing, planning and evaluating treatment. It will also involve administration work through keeping patients' files up to dates and maintaining high health and safety standards in the workplace.

          All nurses have to pass a course that has been approved by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC). It usually takes three or four years to complete and will involve blocks of work experience to help you to feel prepared when you enter the world of work.

          While studying your course, you will usually specialise in adult nursing, child nursing, learning disability nursing or mental health nursing. Sometimes courses are tailored towards one of these areas from the beginning, whereas others will give an overview of all of them before letting you choose which area you would like to train in. It's important to research the course thoroughly beforehand to make sure that it suits your career goals.

          After the completion of this course there are a number of areas that nurses can specialise in: mental health, accident and emergency, clinical, paediatric and numerous others. Each of these will require slightly different skillsets and knowledge, but across all of these areas nurses must be empathetic, professional, caring and resilient.

          Hospital nurses work in teams to deliver continual care to patients. It requires you to be highly organised and able to balance multiple patients at once. As a hospital nurse you should also expect shift work, which may mean you have to work evenings or weekends. However, these unsociable shifts tend to have higher pay rates.

          External clinics and GP surgeries usually operate between 9-5, but still may require you to be on call in case of an emergency.

          The healthcare service in the UK is under a lot of strain, which means that qualified nurses usually find work pretty easily. Over 90% of graduate nurses find employment just six months after graduating. If you do a degree apprenticeship, often the employer that you do your placement with will offer a full time position at the end.

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          Skills & interests required for a career in Nursing

          As a nurse you can expect quite a heavy workload that will keep you busy throughout the day and is perfect for those who enjoy being active and productive. It can require long periods of time on your feet, however, particularly if you're working in a hospital.

          Nurses meet countless number of patients every day, but you have to deliver the same level of care to all of them. It requires you to be non-judgemental and sensitive to the needs of others.

          Depending on the area of nursing that you work in, you could encounter emotionally-charged situations. In these cases, you have to be able to remain calm and communicate professionally with patients and their families.

          Nursing apprenticeships & other career progress routes for school leavers

          After some experience in a general nursing role you can choose to specialise in the area that interests you the most, such as intensive care, child nursing or occupational health. Some choose to pursue clinical nursing, but this requires further training.

          Within the NHS the progression process for nurses is clear because of the ‘band' system. After qualifying you will be at band 5 and the necessary requirements to move into the next band are made clear.

          Also, all nurses must go through a revalidation process every three years. This is to make sure that your knowledge and skills remain up to date with the developments within the healthcare industry.

          Tips for getting into the field

          Any extra experience that you can get in a care role will help your career as a nurse. You could contact local retirement homes or healthcare facilities and offer to do some voluntary work.

          There are many ‘befriending' schemes throughout the country that create partnerships between volunteers and people who need companionship. This can provide great experience of a care-giving role without needing any qualifications.

          What do Nursing professionals get paid?

          Within the NHS, nursing positions are divided into bands and each band has a different salary range. A qualified nurse begins at band 4 and can work their way up.

          Band 2 - £15,000-£18,000 (Clinical support worker) Band 3 - £16,000-£19,000 (Higher level clinical support worker) Band 4 - £19,000-£22,000 (Nurse associate practitioner) Band 5 - £22,000-£28,000 (Nurse) Band 6 - £26,000-£28,000 (Nurse specialist) Band 7 - £31,000-£41,000 (Advanced nurse) Band 8a - £40,000-£48,000 (Matron) Band 8c - £56,000+ (Consultant)

          Private nurses will likely have different rates of pay to this and it will solely depend upon the practice that you are working in.

          What qualifications do I need for a career in Nursing?

          To become a nurse you must have a degree-level qualification. To obtain this you can either go to University or apply for a four year nursing apprenticeship that combines learning with on-the-job training.

          The entry requirements for the nursing degree apprenticeships are set by the employer. Some may require an entry test to determine that you would be able to cope with the workload.

          University courses typically require three A-levels and GCSE qualifications in English, Maths and a Science. Some universities also specify that one of the A-levels must be a science or social science. If you do not have the required A-levels, some universities offer a foundation year to get you up to speed.

          Read more about the Nursing industry

          Nursing & Midwifery Council
          Royal College of Nursing
          British Nursing Association
          National Care Association

          Nursing industry bodies

          Health Careers (NHS)