What are Nursing Career Pathways in the UK?

A career as a nurse can be highly rewarding if you have a passion for helping people. It is also one of the careers where you will never have to worry about becoming unemployed because nurses are always in demand. There are multiple routes to becoming a nurse, as well as specialisations and roles you should consider. If you are interested in a career as a nurse, it is important to do thorough research on the options available to you. There are two main nursing career pathways in the UK that you can take to join the field. A look at the career pathways can help you figure out which option is the best for you. 

Nursing Career Pathways in the UK

Before you go for specialisation, you will have to choose from either of the two main nursing career pathways in the UK

1. Bachelor’s Degree:

A bachelor’s degree in nursing is the most common career pathway for nurses in the UK. Although the main focus of the degree is adult nursing, students can choose to study a specialty alongside it. The most important thing to do when choosing a bachelor’s degree for nursing is to make sure it has NMC approval. Universities in the UK have made it easier for students to check the NMC-approved degrees through the search tool. So, you can go to the website of the university of your choice and check whether the degree you wish to enroll in is NMC-approved. 

The duration of a bachelor’s degree in nursing is usually four years. However, if you have another degree in subjects like psychology or life sciences, you can bypass the first year of your bachelor’s. During the duration of your degree, you will learn about nursing practices, clinical sciences, anatomy, and applied biosciences. Nursing degrees in the UK also often involve nursing placements to help students gain real-life experience. 

2. Degree Apprenticeship:

The second pathway to nursing in the UK is a degree apprenticeship and it works as an alternative to a bachelor’s. The biggest difference between a degree apprenticeship and a nursing degree is the more significant practical aspect of the former. During an apprenticeship, only a fifth of a student’s time is spent studying. The remaining duration of an apprenticeship is dedicated to helping students gain practical experience. 

It will take you three and a half to four years to complete a degree apprenticeship. Along with gaining practical experience, you will also be able to earn an income with an apprenticeship. Governments and in some cases, associated organisations pay for the learning free of the apprentices. 

There are two elements of an apprenticeship: working as a healthcare support worker (HCSW) and working as a student nurse. With an apprenticeship, you will have to work 22.5 to 30 hours per week. Once you are done with your apprenticeship, you will have the same qualifications as a nurse with a bachelor’s degree from a university. 

Requirements for Nursing Career Pathways in the UK

In order to enroll in a bachelor’s degree or an apprenticeship, there are certain requirements you must fulfill. For a bachelor’s degree, you must have four or five GCSEs and two or three A levels. You must also have grades of C or above in both your GCSEs and A levels. If you don’t have A levels, then you should study for a Level 3 diploma. It could be the Access to Higher Education in Health or a similar diploma based on your preferences. 

For a degree apprenticeship, the requirements are slightly lower than those for a bachelor’s. You will need the same number of GCSEs but fewer A levels. It is important to reach out to the institute you wish to apply to and inquire about their requirements before sending in your application. Certain universities have their own requirements on top of the typical ones. Knowing the requirements beforehand will guide you on where to send your applications. 

Finding Jobs as a Nurse in the UK

Once you have been through either of the nursing career pathways in the UK, you will be ready to work in a professional setting. You can search online job boards and local newspapers for job advertisements. If you want to speed up the process and find a reliable employer to work with, reach out to ESGO today. We will help you find nursing jobs with good working conditions and competitive pay.