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Nursing Careers: How to get started

What you need to know to get started in a careers in nursing.
Written on 7/19/13

Nurses may be expected to become involved in every aspect of their patients' lives, which can mean frequent physical interactions, like making beds, preparing meals and helping physically disabled patients. However, the duties of the nurse extend into a variety of areas, involving personnel management, mathematical skill and medical expertise. General nursing duties vary greatly, but may involve:

  • Writing patient care plans
  • Observing and recording patients' conditions
  • Administering drugs and procedures (like drips and blood transfusions)
  • Educating patients about on-going treatments
  • Liaising with healthcare assistants, GPs and community nurses
  • Training student and junior nurses
  • Emergency response procedures


Becoming a nurse requires a degree in nursing - which means application to a higher education institution offering an appropriate qualification. In 2013, nursing diplomas were phased out - and universally replaced by degree training. There are no minimum academic standards for entry into a nursing degree, but the requirements will change depending on the institution you choose - 5 GCSEs of grade C or higher and 2 A levels are usually sufficient.

Nursing degrees are competitive and often require interviews. To prepare for your interview you should make yourself familiar with current issues and developments in the nursing landscape – industry publications are always a useful source of information in this respect. Having a level of practical experience is also a huge advantage to degree applications and will also help in job interviews when you graduate.

Talk to staff in your local hospital to find out about possible work experience opportunities or voluntary positions to boost your CV. Many nursing students start out as Healthcare Assistants, engaging in practical, hands-on experience and gaining insights into what a career in nursing entails.


Finding a job

When you graduate, you'll need to decide which area of nursing you want to go into. Specialities include nursing for adults, children - and the disabled or mentally ill. You may want to head into midwifery, although this discipline requires extra training. Interviews for nursing positions will draw on every aspect of your training and practical experience - but may also examine your reasons for choosing the profession. Make sure you are well prepared to stand out from the crowd!