How to get into a Nursing Course

It's that time of year again - if you're going to think about university this academic year, you need to do it now. I've become pretty au fait with the process of applying for university but Nursing is a bit niche; so i wanted to share with you some of the things which might help anyone who is thinking about going down this route. This is what I think you need to know; 

Understand what you’re getting yourself into. 

The drop out rate for nursing is pretty high as far as I can tell. We lost so many people this year who just realised when they started placement that it just wasn’t what they wanted to be doing. And you know what? Good on them. Good on them for having the courage to go back on everything they had said they were going to do, and saying actually no, this isn’t me, this isn’t what I want to do and so I’m going to stop. 

Honestly, you’re going to be paying to work. I don’t think I’d be very happy about doing my course and paying £9000 a year to do it, because let me tell you we work hard. I’m not implying that we work as hard as qualified nurses or that we don’t get let home early sometimes or that we don’t still get our breaks when nurses are giving IVs to every patient on the ward - but we are working. We are not shadowing. That said, if you’re willing to, you should at least understand what it’s going to be like while you’re at uni. 

You will have to work on the ward even if you can’t think of anything you’d rather do than be in outpatients. You will have to work in outpatients even if you can’t think of anything worse. You will have to do 12 1/2 hour days and nights even if you intend to work a job that’s 9-5 when you qualify. You will probably have to work nights. 

However much of a mess people say that the NHS is, there isn’t much that a good nurse can’t get around. Of course, there are cuts, there’s red tape, there are places in which your hands are tied - but the best nurses I have ever seen are the ones who manage to get around that. You’ll also be doing one of the most patient facing jobs possible and when it comes to patients, families and overall vulnerable individuals, you are delivering information about things which can be completely out of control. 

Do some work experience
Personal experiences are great, but seeing what a nurse does as a Patient is just a fraction of what they do. So having some idea of what your day will look like as a nurse and what they do other than holding babies is really useful.

Show that you care about medicine, not just children/helping people.
You will have to learn biology. A considerable amount of it. So if you really hate the science side, it probably isn’t for you. 

Show what appeals to you about your specific branch.
Gone are the days of General Nursing, so you’re going to have to decide whether you want to do Adults, Children or Mental Health nursing. For me, the decision was made and very simple because I’d been working as a Carer for children for 3 years when I applied, but for some it may not be so clear cut. 

Write your personal statement well.
Get everyone to check it. I literally had my best friend’s mum’s friend checking mine so nothing is too far... there is nothing worse than a badly written piece of work when it is as important as a personal statement. 
These are the things you should be showing: 

  • That you can cope with shift work
  • That you have an experience which means you value what a nurse does 
  • That you understand the variety of work available to you as a nurse 
  • Experience you have gained in other patient or customer focussed roles. 

They are just a handful of suggestions - but my point really is that if you can show those things, and you want to be a nurse, you should be given the opportunity to do just that - don't sell yourself short, but if you find yourself overstating things, you might be in for a nasty surprise if you are successful. 

Any other advice or questions, leave a comment!