nurseThe demand for nursing staff is constantly growing. Whether you find work in a hospital, a doctor’s surgery or even a cruise ship, a career as a nurse can be very demanding. However, it’s also one of the most rewarding professions that you can pursue. Your work directly leads to saving other people’s lives. If you’ve been thinking of pursuing the career path to becoming a nurse, here is what you will need to know.


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Personal qualities

Nursing is not a profession for the faint-hearted. It first requires a fair amount of physical endurance – you’ll be on your feet for up to twelve hours at a time. You’ll be dealing with a lot of unglamorous jobs involving various bodily fluids, so having a strong stomach is important too. On top of this you’ll need a fair amount of emotional strength to deal with some of the stressful situations you may find yourself in. You’re not only managing your stress but the stress of others, and on top of long and exhausting shifts this can be arduous work.


A desire to help people is probably the most important attribute however. Whilst medical know-how is important, you’ll be having to often connect to people on an emotional level. Some people may trial out work as a volunteer care assistant to see if they have what it takes. If you’ve previously looked after a loved one or been in jobs in which you’ve had to care for people, this may be enough to give you a clear indication.

Academic qualifications

The academic path you take can vary, but generally you’ll be required to obtain a degree in nursing. Before getting a place at a university, you’ll need 5 GCSE grades of grade C and above and 2 A levels. Some universities may require higher grades to get in.


Getting a place on a nursing course can be competitive. A 4000 character personal statement is generally required in order to convince the university you’re applying to as to why you deserve a place.


There are short courses into various other branches of nursing such as holistic work, pediatric oncology and care home nursing. This can be a great alternative for those that don’t make the grades. If you choose to do a degree, there are also many advanced courses you can take to get your nursing career further. You can find such courses from RN to BSN online. These could allow you to fill a leadership position, as well more specific courses that may lead to areas such as midwifery and nurse practitioner work.


Work experience

Bagging some experience could help ease your foot in the door by showing that you are enthusiastic and motivated. This could include voluntary nursing work or paid part-time work. You may be able to find work as a carer, either working at a care home or privately looking after someone.


If you’re looking for hospital experience, it may be worth looking into part-time work as a porter. Such staff have the role of transporting things around the hospital from fetching emergency medicine, to moving machinery into an operating theatre before surgery, to helping to move patients that may have mobility issues around wards.


There are also a number of voluntary jobs that can be taken up in the medical field. You may be able to do some work for a charity, dealing directly with patients (getting involved in St John’s Ambulance could be very beneficial). Hospitals can offer a number of small voluntary roles such as manning reception desks, shopping for patients and performing cleaning and maintenance tasks.


You can search for such positions online or ask at your local doctor’s surgery or hospital. Even if you can’t get any hands-on experience, you may be able to find some form of work-shadowing that you can put on your CV and university application (just being able to see what the working environment is like may be enough to tell you whether or not this is the job for you).


Sometimes various non-work related activities may be able to give good proof of your nursing ability. There may be a club that you have been involved in that shows teamwork skills. Scouts and Guides groups can often provide this, whilst also offering some basic first aid skills. Getting involved in sports may show that you are a team player and that you can communicate well with people. Draw on all your experience and convert these into handy pieces of information that you can put on an application.