Careers in Nursing – Getting Started

Written by Steven Marwick

Careers in nursing can be very rewarding and fulfilling for the person involved, as well as being a secure, lifelong avenue of employment. Being trained in nursing will mean that your skills are always valued and in demand and you will be able to access additional training in specific areas, should you choose to focus on a particular nursing specialism.

One of the best ways to start a career in nursing is to undertake a nursing apprenticeship. This will allow you to learn as you earn, gaining valuable experience in a nursing environment while also making money. 

Careers in Nursing – Nursing Apprenticeship Standards

There are a wide number of different apprenticeship standards relating to careers in nursing that you can choose from and we have listed some of these and explained the differences between them for you below.

Nursing Associate Apprenticeship

This apprenticeship is meant to span the gap in learning and experience between care staff and registered nurses. The Nursing Associate Apprenticeship standard is a Higher Apprenticeship (Level 5) and this means that it is just below degree level in terms of academic achievement. There is normally a lot of competition for apprenticeships at this level as they are popular with people who are just leaving school, as well as older people who wish to upgrade their qualifications in the field. 

Dental Nurse

The Dental Nurse apprenticeship standard is an Advanced Apprenticeship (Level 3) that should take around 18 months to complete, not including the End Point Assessment. Dental nurses provide clear support to other dental professionals while they carry out procedures and examinations, being on hand to assist with water and relevant tools as required. Dental nurses learn how to prepare the clinical environment prior to procedures taking place and will become well-versed in all areas surrounding dental hygiene.  

District Nurse

The District Nurse Apprenticeship standard will provide the apprentice with a Higher Apprenticeship at Level 7. This is not a degree apprenticeship and it only takes 24 months to complete. 

The job of a district nurse is a complex one with duties to many patients throughout the community, so there will usually be an element of home visiting required when outside of pandemic times. The apprentice may be based at a GP Surgery or local NHS hospital and will work alongside social care staff, hospital staff and social workers in order to ensure that an appropriate level of care is provided to those who need it.

District nurses require excellent interpersonal skills as they will be dealing directly with patients, their carers and family members as well as other healthcare professionals.

Registered Nurse Degree – Careers in Nursing

The Registered Nurse Degree Apprenticeship is a Higher (Level 6) apprenticeship that yields a degree level qualification at the end of it. The typical length of this apprenticeship is 48 months and this is a good chance to achieve a degree qualification without having to spend the amount on tuition fees that would otherwise be required for such a qualification. 

Being able to earn as you learn for the entire duration of the apprenticeship means that it is especially attractive to those from lower socio-economic backgrounds who may be more averse to taking on debt than young people from more affluent backgrounds. 

Registered Nurses make up the backbone of the NHS and this is one of the most important careers in nursing and job roles in patient care that there is. All nurses must be registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Council, which is the regulatory body for nurses and midwives in the UK. They will require evidence of ongoing professional development and continued practice throughout your career.

Specialist Community and Public Health Nurse

The Specialist Community and Public Health Nurse Apprenticeship is a Higher (Level 7) apprenticeship that should take around 18 months to complete. This type of nursing apprenticeship is aimed at people who would like to take on very specific roles in the community such as school nurses, occupational health nurses and health visitors. 

You will be able to use the experience that you have gained in the apprenticeship to help people in vulnerable communities to access healthcare services that they may not otherwise know about. There is a very real gap in terms of healthcare provision between those from more affluent communities and those from areas of multiple deprivations and you will be on the front line of signposting people to relevant services and closing this gap. 

You may be employed by the NHS, a local authority, an individual school or social enterprise, or a private healthcare provider but your duties will be first and foremost to help with the health outcomes of your patients.

You may work with patients in a healthcare setting or in their own home and in the case of healthcare visitors, you may be helping to give young babies the best start in life by helping with things like breastfeeding programmes. 

Careers in Nursing – Apply for a Nursing Apprenticeship Today

There are many routes into careers in nursing but the skills that are involved in this area have never been in higher demand. With Brexit, the NHS lost a great many registered nurses who returned home to mainland Europe and leaving a massive skills gap that desperately needs to be filled.

Apprenticeships are one of the best ways to do this within a relatively short timescale because many of the apprenticeships are for 18 months or so, but it requires people to sign up and start their apprenticeships as soon as possible. 

This will be a hard time to take on a nursing apprenticeship, coming as it does at the tail end of both Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic, which has seen health services across the UK stretched to their absolute limit.

If you are someone who values our NHS and the service that it provides to people in this country, your support at this time could make all the difference to UK health provision in the years to come. Take a look at our specialised apprenticeship vacancy jobs board to find suitable NHS apprenticeship positions in your local area.

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Last Updated: Wednesday November 16 2022
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