Careers explored: Spotlight on Nursing

The outpouring of support and pride towards our national health service (NHS) over the past few months has been incredible. The valuable work of key workers in this sector certainly didn’t go unnoticed, so much so we stood outside our homes every Thursday evening at 8pm to clap our respects for their dedication during these unprecedented times. But will the spotlight on the profession now encourage young people to look at nursing as a career option?

According to the NHS Digital’s latest healthcare workforce statistics, as of April 2020, there were 296,008 qualified nurses which is up by 13,502, compared to April 2019’s figure of 282,506.

Whilst there appears to be more people joining the profession, we speak to Jill Davies, principal of Liverpool Life Sciences UTC, to find out how they are creating these career paths for their students.

Jill said: “I think this year more than ever we have started to see that the value of our healthcare professionals, nurses, doctors, allied health professionals. Our heroic key workers have worked selflessly in harrowing conditions to keep us safe and well.

“The North West is a wealth of opportunity for young people interested in careers in this vital area, and was a key reason for opening the Liverpool Life Sciences UTC here eight years ago.”

Jill added: “We work hand in hand with the Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospital Trust to ensure our students have the up-todate skills and experiences they need to progress to a career in nursing, medicine or allied health professions.”

“We also work alongside incredible local universities including Edge Hill and Liverpool John Moores,  and sponsor University of Liverpool to prepare students academically for careers in this sector.”

Students at the school have the opportunity to study health and social care BTEC as well as completing hands on projects and professional qualifications with clinical educators. Liverpool Life Sciences UTC even has a dedicated health care suite, designed as a mock hospital ward and practical technicians that regularly teach healthcare simulations to boost  practical, communication and caring skills.

They focus on the 6C’s of nursing (care, compassion, competence, communication, courage and commitment) in all of its studies and support their students to put this into practice during extensive work placements. Jill said: “This has supported our young people to secure adult, child, mental health nursing degrees, midwifery and radiography degrees and places to study medicine at top UK universities.”

With over 350 different careers in the NHS, there is a job for any ability and personality. Nursing is one of few professions that offers as much choice or opportunity for personal and professional growth. As we have seen over the few months, it is incredibly challenging but also very rewarding.

With four fields to choose from; adult nursing, children’s nursing, learning disability nursing and mental health nursing, it is important to choose your area of interest first. You can start your nursing journey straight from school or college, with most people qualifying by studying a degree. Nursing degrees aren’t completely classroom based and you will gain lots of practical hands on experience with patients in hospital and community settings – which is completely invaluable!

Entry requirements vary between each university but generally speaking you will need at least two-three A-levels of equivalent qualifications at level 3, as well as GCSEs in English, maths and science (usually biology).

From September 2020, undergraduate and postgraduate student nurses will also receive financial support to help fund their studies. This ranges between £5,000 – £8,000 and doesn’t need to be repaid.

If a full-time university course isn’t for you, there are other routes – you could embark on a nursing degree apprenticeship. This type of apprenticeship provides a more flexible route to becoming a nurse,  although you will still need to undertake academic study at degree level and meet the standards set by The Nursing and Midwifery Council.

Firstly, you will need to have achieved level 3 qualifications and secured a position as a nursing degree apprentice. Your employer will then allow you to study at university on a part-time basis. This course usually takes a little longer to complete as it is part-time but you will get to train in a range of practice placement settings.

Vacancies for nursing degree apprenticeships can be easily found on NHS Jobs website and also on the Government’s apprenticeship website.

Finally, there is also the option of becoming a nursing associate. This is a fairly new role within the field and sees you working with healthcare support workers and registered nurses to deliver care for patients and the public. A nursing associate is not a registered nurse, but if you choose to take on further training, it can be possible to enhance your initial training and become one.

Incredibly, nursing is one of the UK’s most employable type of degrees with 94% of students securing a job within six months of completing their course.

Initial salaries can start from £24,000 a year and the jobs come with lots of benefits including 27 days holiday a year, a good pension and other added extras, such as NHS discount within certain shops and restaurants. But remember, this isn’t your average 9-5 office job. You will work shifts which includes weekends, evenings and bank holidays.

There is lots of progression available within nursing too. With the right experience, you could eventually specialise in a particular area such as intensive care or operating theatre work, or become a nursing sister, ward manager or team leader. Later, you could train to become a midwife, neonatal nurse, health visitor, or district or practice nurse. You could even move into management, for example a matron or director of nursing.

There is no denying that becoming a nurse requires a lot of hard work – and that’s before you’ve even qualified! But the job is a fulfilling one as you are making a huge difference to the lives of many people by caring for them and nursing them back to good health.

The role of a nurse comes with a lot of responsibility and you could be doing tasks such as:

• Taking temperatures, blood pressures and pulse rates of patients

• Assist doctors with physical examinations

• Give drugs and injections

• Clean and dress wounds

• Set up drips and blood transfusions

• Use medical equipment

• Monitor patients’ progress

• Update patient records and handover information to colleagues at the end of a shift

• Work with doctors and other healthcare professionals to decide what care to give

• Give advice to patients and their relatives

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