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How to Become a Nurse UK

Nurses work in GP practices, hospitals & schools. How to become a nurse UK guide. Nursing degree course training, apprenticeship & study qualifications so you can register to practice and work in any place where there are people from a school, college, university.

You’ll work individually and as part of larger teams to help people to get well, provide advice and conduct health checks. There are job roles for trained nurses and many opportunities for career advancement.

Trained nurses have good career prospects with well defined professional advancement opportunities in the UK to become a nurse practitioner or leader.  Nurses are care providers, supportive to carers and doctors.


How to become a nurse UK qualifications

As a bare minimum, you’ll need a postgraduate diploma in nursing or a degree and be registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) as a nurse in the UK to become fully qualified to practice.  Reference source (NMC).

You can choose to study for a postgraduate diploma in a specialist area of nursing over 2 years full time for holders of relevant degrees.  See UCAS or conduct a search online for “diploma in nursing”.


Nursing Apprenticeship

Nursing degree apprenticeship qualification route is where you study and train to qualify as to become a registered nurse. Course duration of 4 years. Funding is provides by the employer.


Main nursing degree specialist routes to choose from:


Mental health


Learning & disabilities


How to Become a Nurse UK, Nursing degree Course Training As a student, you apply for a nursing degree qualification and although you specialise in one area all nurses must complete general medical training in nursing,

Studying for a degree is one of the main steps to becoming as a nurse. UK University in all 4 home nations has courses and they also arrange the required practical placements in local hospitals as part of your training.

You do not get to choose your own placements and can find yourself travelling to another town or city for placement experience.

Half your time is spent on practical training at a hospital. Common Foundation Programme forms the first part of training then you choose a specialisation.


The University of Dundee, for example, is a large teaching hospital with very good nursing courses.

They offer BSC Adult Nursing, BSC Mental Health Nursing and BSC in Child Nursing at undergraduate level.

See Dundee courses here for a lot more information on other courses and nursing in general.

Applications through UCAS online.

You can, of course, apply to any university or other providers as you wish.


Clinical placements becoming a nurse

Practical nursing placements on a nursing degree course will find you being placed with a nursing home, hospital where you gain experience on the ward, theatre, and accident & emergency.

The idea is for you to gain a good range of experience and to build up knowledge and skills to become an effective and trained nurse.

With your patience and compassion. you will initially work alongside experienced nurses who will mentor and guide you, learn how to deal with patients and family members.

Dealing with family members, no training for that.  My mother had a massive stroke 7 days after a triple heart bypass and the nurses were great with her at the hospital.

Families take it differently; this is where the compassion and patience come into effect.


Years of nursing training

Postgraduate diploma courses full time 2 years
Degree takes 3 or 4 years full time

Open University part-time degrees in nursing take longer and is 6 years to completion.  See her for information about courses offered.


Transfer credit

There is a possibility that you can gain transfer credit for prior learning such as a DipHE qualification with 240 credit points.

The Open University, for instance, has a BA Hon’s in Nursing Practice studied by distance learning.

Other universities and training providers offer course transfer or advanced standing with prior appropriate study,


Nursing degree Scottish universities

Not all universities offer the 4 main specialist areas of a degree course. Should you wish to become a nurse in the UK and specialise in a certain area of nursing choose a university course provider that offers that specialist degree.  Lot of places to study in England & Wales as well.


Abertay University:  Mental health degree.  4 years full-time study.


University of Dundee: Adult, child, mental health and oral health science nursing degrees. 3 years full-time study.


The University of Edinburgh: Nursing degree by 4 years full-time study.


Edinburgh Napier University: Nursing, child health, learning disability and mental health degrees. Full time study for 3 years.


University of Glasgow: Nursing degree 4 years full time.


Glasgow Caledonian University: Nursing studies adult, child, duel registration child/learning disability.  Studies over 3 or 4 years full time.


University of the Highland and Islands:  Oral health science. Degree 3 years full time


The Open University: Adult nursing 6 years by flexible study.


Queen Margaret University: 4-year full-time nursing degree.


Robert Gordon University: Adult, Children and young people and mental health nursing degrees. 3 or 4 years full-time study.


The University of Stirling: Adult and mental health options by full-time study over 3 years.


University of the West of Scotland: Adult and mental health nursing over 3 year’s full-time study.


Entry requirements to nursing in UK

– Personal attributes and traits of a good listener, understanding and good working with others are important.

– A-C grades in English, Mathematics and other relevant subjects are standard entry requirements for university courses for becoming a nurse.

– SQA Higher BBC grades are general for many courses.  Or the may other equivalent qualifications accepted by universities in Scotland or other UK courses.  Check each university course requirement.

– HNC in nursing holders gain entry to many university courses at the first year level.

– Universities accept a range of qualifications. 17 years and over is also a requirement.

– Good health and a medical are usually required.

– Criminal record check for nursing through becoming a member of the PVG Scheme via Disclosure Scotland, paid by the university.

– Health screening check. Occupational health screening check for the medical profession.

– Successful interview.

– Academic references for prospective students applying straight from school or college.

– A professional reference for other people that have been out of education for some time.

– Been a resident for 3 years in the UK or Europe prior to applying for the course.  This requirement is for some nursing courses entry requirement, although no all.


Where to apply and nursing courses

To become a nurse in the UK apply through UCAS central applications on-line for both diploma and degree courses.  Find a course and see what is required from each course provider.

Apprenticeship courses government England & Wales website    also Scottish apprenticeship courses websites here



Oh dear!  The government would like to retain some money for their holiday fund!

Basically, grant funding stopped at present.

You require applying for student loans if you need funding in the future studying in England & Wales that needs to be paid back with interest.

Depending on your domiciled residence Scottish students taking a nursing degree in Scotland will not require to pay university fees.

You need to have been resident in Scotland for the 3 years prior to applying for the course.

European residents check and get guidance from the university you are applying, although you should find you are eligible the same as Scottish students.

Apprentices are funded by the employer for training and course study


See the university course guidance on funding.


Student loans for UK courses

Residents in Wales & England through Student Finance England.

Scottish resident need to apply through The Students Awards Agency for Scotland.

Student loans for applicants for fees and or maintenance allowance for each year of your course.


Additional funding, further information on becoming a nurse (if any)

NHS Student Grants Unit grants for nursing


National Leadership and Innovation Agency for Healthcare (NLIAH) 


Northern Ireland

The Department of Higher and Further Education Training and Employment


Other information


NHS Careers



National Leadership and Innovation Agency for Healthcare



Post qualification

As mentioned before when you successfully complete your nursing degree or postgraduate diploma you gain the status of a qualified and registered UK nurse.

Start looking and applying for nursing jobs before the course ends.  Think about where you wish to live or relocate for better career prospects.

There is so many course you can study towards, firstly become a staff nurse, sister or a nurse practitioner year’s down the line.


See also the Royal college of Nursing website 


Nurses salaries

Yes, we as the general public all know it could be more.

Looks like you start as a qualified nurse on £24,907 full time (2018) and after 3 years £30,316,

See the Royal College of Nursing website for pay and conditions.


This page shows up to date information of how to become a nurse in the UK and will be updated as required.


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