Nursing is a demanding but highly rewarding job. Unlike most other careers in the health service nursing focuses on the individual rather than the illness. Nurses need to be able to play a key role in monitoring and contributing to patients' treatment, but also address their needs and anxieties.
Nurses are increasingly taking responsibility for assessing and delivering patient care. They work in all hospital areas including intensive care, A & E, cancer care and children's wards, as well as in the community in health centres, schools, nursing homes and treating people in their homes.
Students need 260 UCAS points from two A-Levels or equivalent, (including English and Maths) plus five GCSEs at A to C grade to study adult, mental health and children's nursing. Access courses and other qualifications are also considered. The minimum age for starting is normally 17 or 18 for children's courses.
The NHS pays the tuition fees for all eligible Students and bursaries are available for eligible students. Only Students eligible to receive tuition fees may be considered.
There are four branches to nursing: adult, children's, mental health and learning disabilities. After becoming qualified there is considerable opportunity for nurses to take on increasing responsibility and by specialising have an impact on their salary potential. In Inner London a newly qualified nurse can expect to earn in the region of £23,000 and salaries go up to about £66,000 for a nurse consultant.
Adult nursing is primarily concerned with nursing sick and injured adults in hospitals and the community. Its main areas are medical, surgical, accident and emergency, critical care, care of older people, rehabilitation, primary care and orthopaedics. These nurses work at the centre of a multi professional team that includes doctors, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and pharmacists, working closely with patients and their families. Students learn how to assess, plan, implement and evaluate the care of individual patients.
Children's nurses care for sick children and provide support to their families in hospitals and the community. Working in partnership with parents or carers these nurses fully understand how to minimise the impact of illness or hospital admission on a child. Instead of treating them as miniature adults they need to understand factors which complicate treatment and the levels of communication children have.
Mental health nurses help patients overcome ill health or to come to terms with it so they can lead as normal a life as possible. As many as one in three people are thought to suffer some form of mental health problem. The key role and challenge in mental health nursing is to form therapeutic relationships with mentally ill people and their families. Most patients are cared for in the community.
These nurses work with people with learning disabilities to help them live as independently as possible within the community. The nursing is carried out in a number of social settings including the home, work and leisure activities. Learning Disability nurses need to have great patience and highly-developed, flexible communication skills as they work with people with a complex set of needs. These learning disability specialists carry out skilled assessments, care planning and intervention.