Career Guide: Nursing

Welcome to the latest guide in our series about health and social care careers. Make sure you check out our other guides here:

Healthcare Careers: Medical Research and Development

Whether you already have a Health and Social care qualification, or are thinking about applying, one rewarding route you can pursue is a career in Nursing.

This guide will give you an overview of nursing, the opportunities a career in nursing can bring, the qualifications you need and the different ways to become a nurse, plus some of the more unusual nursing jobs you could do.

What do nurses do?

Nurses are the frontline of healthcare. They are responsible for the hands-on care of patients – assessing and attending to their needs, improving their quality of life, dealing with stressful situations and the ups and downs of human life every single day. They need to have good judgement, compassion, courage and the ability to stay focussed and organised under a lot of pressure and emotional strain.

It sounds like a tough job – and it is. But nursing brings a lot of rewards.

Benefits of a career in nursing

Nurses get the satisfaction of helping people in their daily jobs – they get to work with patients face-to-face and see the direct results of the work they do
Nursing is rarely boring – the work is varied, exciting and challenging
Nurses can have high job flexibility, with part-time options and tailorable shift patterns so they can fit their work around other commitments like family
A career in nursing offers a lot of mobility, with the opportunity to work in many different settings and specialities

Where do nurses work?

56% of nurses in the UK work in hospitals, but there are opportunities to work in lots of different settings, such as:

Community Health Clinics (14.9%)

Ambulatory Care (11.5%)

Nursing Homes (6.3%)

Nursing Education (2.6%)

What duties do nurses perform day-to-day?

Nurses are the cogs that keep the wheels of our healthcare system working. They are responsible for direct patient care, but also all the little things essential to things working the way they should. Nurses…

Treat patients and alleviate their suffering
Educate patients and families about care and wellness
Provide emotional support to patients’ family members
Record patients’ medical histories and monitor symptoms
Help perform diagnostic tests and medical procedures
Operate medical machinery
Administer treatments and medication

How do you become a nurse?

To become a Nurse you will need a nursing degree – this is how you become a Registered Nurse, which means you can work for the NHS.

But you do not need to go to university to get a nursing degree. There are several routes into nursing that you can take. Here’s what you need to know:

You can start working as a Healthcare Assistant or in a medical or health support role before you have a degree. You can then work your way up to the level you need to be to apply for a nursing degree and do it alongside your work via a higher education awarding body.
To apply for a nursing degree you need a Level 3 qualification equivalent to three A-Levels, plus GCSEs in English, Maths and Science. You can get these at college. Explore Health and Social care qualifications at Christ the King Sixth Form College.
If you have the necessary qualifications from college, you can apply to do your nursing degree at college too. You can get all the necessary higher education qualifications to become a Nurse at Christ the King Sixth Form College.
If you want to change your career and move from another industry, you can apply for a nursing degree if you have the necessary qualifications.
If you’ve never worked in healthcare before, it is recommended that you gain some experience, for instance in a voluntary capacity for an organisation like St John’s Ambulance.

Find out more on the Christ the King Sixth Form College website

Areas of Nursing

Here are just some of the Nursing specialities and careers you could work in:

Cardiac Nursing – specialising in treating cardiac patients and dealing with the emotional, nutritional and on-going therapeutic needs.

Critical Care Nursing – caring for patients who are critically ill or injured and who require constant, vigilant monitoring of their potentially life-threatening condition.

Forensic Nursing – Specialising in caring for people involved in a crime, such as abuse, neglect or violence. The nurse must then collect evidence and prepare reports that can be used in a court of law and give testimony based on their medical findings.

Medical-Surgical Nursing – involves assisting surgeons in operating rooms, and pre and post-operation patient care. It requires constant training in technological advancements and surgical medicine plus exposure to high stress situations.

Midwifery – midwives are involved in assisting in the birth of babies, and providing education and long-term support to mothers from gestation to birth.

Oncology Nursing – these nurses play a vital role in working with cancer patients and their family, specialising in diagnostics and treatment or home care.