TSR Wiki > University > Choosing a Subject > University Courses > Nursing Degree

Information taken from this thread



What does a Nurse do?

A nurse can work in a variety of healthcare settings, ranging from hospitals, community health centres, patient's own homes, nursing homes, prisons and even cruise ships. Nurses provide assess, plan , implement and evaluate patient care, administer medications, supervising the use of medical equipment, observing and directly caring for patients, supervising, managing and directing the work of healthcare assistants and acting as intermediary between patients, their families and physicians. However this role depends on qualifications, where you work and branch of nursing. Depending on experience and training there are plenty of opportunities for you to rise up the ranks to manage teams, run wards and even reach consultant level.

Areas of Nursing you can go into

The following 4 branches of nursing you can go straight into via university. A small number of universities offer a dual-registration degree leading to registration in two fields of nursing.

Adult nursing

Adult nurses work with old and young adults with diverse health conditions, both chronic and acute. They juggle numerous priorities and use caring, counselling, managing, teaching and all aspects of interpersonal skills to improve the quality of patients’ lives. The adult branch of nursing will suit individuals who wish to work in a busy, multidisciplinary team but can also use initiative where required. There’s a lot to learn in a fast changing, demanding environment, so it’s essential for you to be highly observant and able to assess what is best for the patient. Willingness to take responsibility for people’s well-being is essential, and a commitment to continuing learning throughout your career is vital.

Mental Health Nursing

Nurses who choose to specialise in the mental health branch of nursing - a complex and demanding area - work with GPs, psychiatrists, psychologists, and others, to help care for patients with mental illnesses. Increasingly, care is given in the community, with mental health nurses visiting patients and their families at home, in residential centres, in prisons or in specialist clinics or units. You may do shift work to provide 24-hour care. This is a valuable role that provides much reward and satisfaction.

Childrens Nursing

Children's nurses deal with a range of situations, including babies born with heart complications, teenagers who have sustained broken limbs, and child protection issues. Health problems can affect a child's development and it's vital to work with the child's family or carers to ensure that he or she does not suffer additionally from the stress of being ill or in hospital. Children's nursing takes place in hospitals, day care centres, child health clinics and in the child's home. Like other branches of nursing, care is becoming more community-based.

Learning Disability Nursing

Learning disability nurses work in partnership with the service user and their family and carers, to provide specialist healthcare. Their main aim is to support the well-being and social inclusion of people with a learning disability by improving or maintaining their physical and mental health; by reducing barriers; and supporting the person to pursue a fulfilling life. For example, teaching someone the skills to find work can be significant in helping them to lead a more independent, healthy life where they can relate to others on equal terms. Learning disabilities nursing is provided in settings such as adult education, residential and community centres, as well as in patients' homes, workplaces and schools. Learning disability nurses can also work in hospitals to support a person with a learning disability in the hospital environment.

Nursing Career Paths

These areas of Nursing are examples of career paths you can choose to go into after a nursing degree

District Nursing

District nurses visit people of all ages, often in their own homes, GP surgeries or a residential home. Many patients are elderly, others may have disabilities, be recovering after a hospital stay, or have a terminal illness. You may do shift work to provide 24-hour care. You'll need to qualify and work as a registered nurse and then complete a degree-level specialist practitioner programme, which usually lasts at least one academic year, before you can become a district nurse.

Neonatal Nursing

Neonatal nurses work with newborn babies who are born sick or prematurely. Often, premature newborns have respiratory problems, which can be life threatening if they are not treated promptly and monitored. Also, ill babies need to be fed in a specialised way in a highly controlled environment that is kept warm. You may do shift work to provide 24-hour care. Neonatal nursing training programmes are part of continuing professional development and are normally studied as modules by registered adult and children's nurses and midwives. As with other types of nursing, there are opportunities to progress to management, research and education, as well as nurse consultancy.

Health Visiting

Health visitors are registered nurses or midwives who have done further training to work as vital members of the primary healthcare team, covering a specific geographical area. They work with a network of organisations concerned with health and can be based in settings as diverse as people's homes, schools, GP surgeries, shelters for the homeless and medical centres. This is a role that will appeal to those who enjoy one to-one nursing and want to work with autonomy while remaining part of a healthcare team. You'll have opportunities to progress to manage a team of health visitors or work in other management roles in the NHS. You'll need to qualify and have worked as a registered nurse or midwife before completing a degree-level training programme, which usually lasts a minimum of one year, full-time, before you can become a health visitor.

Practice Nursing

Practice nurses work in GP surgeries as part of a primary care team that is likely to include doctors, nurses, dietitians and pharmacists. In smaller practices, you may be the sole nurse, whereas in larger surgeries, you may share duties with practice nurse colleagues. You may be required to work one or two evenings a week. As the range of healthcare services provided in the community increases, the role of the practice nurse is likely to expand. For example, you might get involved in prison nursing, which may mean doing shifts to provide 24-hour care. To become a practice nurse, you need to qualify and have gained experience as a registered nurse. Local employers organise training. This role offers much scope and variety for those who have highly developed communication skills, enjoy working flexibly and are organised. Depending on your experience, you could be organising and running clinics, which will demand attention to detail, initiative and plenty of confidence. You'll be employed by GP practices and may be able to work part-time. As a practice nurse, you will be able to apply for senior positions such as nurse practitioner, where you can manage your own caseload.

Prison Nursing

Prison nurses are registered nurses based in prison. They are either employed by the prison service or, increasingly, by the NHS. Many prisoners suffer from substance abuse or have a mental health problem, making nursing in this environment challenging. By improving mental and physical health, the care provided by prison nurses may help to lower re-offending rates, and therefore have a positive impact on prisoners, their families and the wider public. A background in mental health nursing may help. You may have opportunities to move between the NHS and the prison service through job share, job swap and secondment schemes, and, as in other types of nursing, you can undertake further training and apply for management roles.

School Nursing

School nurses are usually employed by a primary care trust, local health authority, community trust or by individual schools. You will need to be an experienced registered nurse before you can apply to work as a school nurse. Experience of working with children, in child protection or health promotion will be beneficial.

On top of this, there are further opportunities with NHS specialist authorities, private healthcare providers, charities (eg macmillian cancer support) teaching, research and the armed forces. Nurses can also specialise in areas such as palliative care, diabetes or infection control.

Course Structure

Entry Routes Into Nursing

To work in the NHS, nurses must hold a degree in nursing (a “pre-registration” programme), which leads to registration with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), enabling them to practice as a nurse. Degrees programmes comprise of 50% theory and 50% practice, with time split between the higher education institute (HEI), which runs the course, and practical placements in a variety of healthcare settings. This is normally a three year programme designed to combine classroom theory with real, practical nursing experience in various healthcare settings, such as hospitals, GP Practices & nursing homes. There is also an accelerated Diploma for graduates who already hold a health related degree.

The Degree route

You need A-levels or equivalent e.g an Access to HE diploma or BTEC in a relevant subject for this 3 year route. As part of the selection process, applicants will normally be invited to an interview/selection day and may also be required to complete numeracy & literacy tests as part of this process. In England, students now need to apply for student finance to cover the cost of tuition fees & can also apply for a maintenance loan (a larger maintenance loan is also available depending on the students circumstances).

The accelerated route

These shortened programmes are modified from existing nursing programmes and lead to qualification in adult, mental health, learning disabilities or children’s nursing. They are intended for graduates and are around 24 months with 6 months of CFP and 18 months of branch training.

Part-time route

Part-time pre-registration nursing programmes are provided by some universities and normally last for five or six years. They are available to staff working in the NHS – usually as an assistant or an associate practitioner with qualifications up to NVQ level 3 (or equivalent). You’d be employed by the NHS, which would provide support in terms of time off to attend on a part-time basis.

Nursing Degree Apprenticeship

This is a new route into nursing. With the support of an employer, nursing apprentices work and study with a university. This route is estimated to take 4 years. Apprentices are paid during the course and there are currently no tuition fees for this route. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/nursing-degree-apprenticeships-factsheet/nursing-degree-apprenticeship-factsheet


Academic Requirements

There are no national minimum entry requirements for nursing and midwifery as each higher education institution (HEI) set its own criteria, and it is essential that you contact each institution to check before applying, you can normally find the entry requirements on the university websites. However the standard entry requirements for a degree in nursing are generally 5 GCSE's (including maths & English) and 3 'A' Levels or equivalent. If you are unsure if your qualifications will be accepted contact the university directly to check. An interview or selection day is generally part of the selection process for nursing degrees in addition your UCAS personal statement and application. .

All applicants must be able to demonstrate evidence of literacy, numeracy and good character. See here for a list of current requirements for nursing degrees in each HEI : http://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/showthread.php?p=57535033&highlight=

Students will also need to undergo a Disclosure & Barring Service (DBS) check before or at the beginning of the course.

UCAS Form & Personal Statement

A number of Personal Statements used for applications for Nursing are available in our Personal Statement Library. Tips

Link experience you have had to particular qualities that are needed in Nursing

Use Research - can be through articles, books etc and what this did for you. i.e. spark interest etc


Nursing Interviews

Course Structure

All routes undergo a 'common foundation programme' within the first year. Usually this means all branches learn and train together- and some institutions put you on placement outside of your chosen branch. As above, all training is 50-50 on placement and theory- and its up to the institution on their timetable and where your placement would be. You will have a mixture of lectures which pratical or theoretical and many universities now teach with an evidence based approach (eg working with cases). It will also be a mixture of seminars, tutorials, IT based excercises and presentations. Assesments can be from exams, essays, practical lab work and clinical skills- so if you feel pressured under exams- thats not your only form of assesment. You're also assesed within your placements and have certain procedures and skills to learn and do within these placements.

Life as a Nursing Student

How to Cope on Nursing Placements






Professional Bodies

Royal College of Nursing ://www.rcn.org.uk/

The Nursing and Midwifery Council http://www.nmc-uk.org/

Advised reading (from amazon.co.uk)

Nurses survival guide to the ward: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Nurses-Survival-Guide-Ward-3e-x/dp/0702046035/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1437164405&sr=1-1&keywords=nurses+survival+guide+to+the+ward

Student nurses handbook: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/0702045799/ref=pd_lpo_sbs_dp_ss_1?pf_rd_p=569136327&pf_rd_s=lpo-top-stripe&pf_rd_t=201&pf_rd_i=0702027308&pf_rd_m=A3P5ROKL5A1OLE&pf_rd_r=07RTB2R81HG0ZQ0QGG51

Notes on nursing (a florence nightengale book) http://www.amazon.co.uk/Notes-Nursin...ref=pd_sim_b_4

Trust me, i'm a junior doctor: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Trust-Me-Im-...9816717&sr=1-1

A war nurses diary (my fave book atm!) http://www.amazon.co.uk/War-Nurses-D...ref=pd_sim_b_9

Graduate Destinations and Career Prospects

Once you’ve successfully completed your pre-registration programme and registered with the NMC you can apply for nursing posts. With some experience, you can look to develop your career further, which may mean further study/training.

Healthcare is constantly developing, technology improving, and the needs of the population changing. Once qualified, it is necessary to keep yourself up to date with health care issues and practice. This will be required by the NMC, and encouraged by your employer.

Many institutions offer masters, phd's etc within healthcare from a range of areas. Your training doesn't stop after your degree!

See Also

Join the conversation on TSR's Nursing and Midwifery forum.

Try Learn together, TSR's study area

revision notes




a study planner

of discussions

What do you find most difficult about revising?

The Student Room, Get Revising and The Uni Guide are trading names of The Student Room Group Ltd.

Register Number: 04666380 (England and Wales), VAT No. 806 8067 22 Registered Office: International House, Queens Road, Brighton, BN1 3XE