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A guide to nurse education

Nurse education will teach you the professional and technical skills you require to work as part of a large team of multidisciplinary health care professionals and to support and provide advice to patients in your care. To embark on nurse's work, you will require a degree. Discover how to become a nurse in the UK.

The four branches of nursing

In order to work as a nurse, you will need a nursing degree. Nursing degrees are offered in four different fields of nursing: adult nursing, paediatric nursing, mental health nursing and learning disabilities nursing. It is essential that you choose your chosen field of nursing before you start your nursing degree studies.

The skills your nursing education will teach you

Throughout your nursing degree programme, you will spend approximately half of your time studying nursing theory. The other half of your course will be spent in a practical work placement, learning new skills and trying them out.

The duration of nursing school programmes

If you choose to study for a full-time degree, you should expect to spend three years at university. If you choose to study for a part-time degree, you should expect to qualify as a nurse within five to six years.

The content of your nursing degree study

If you choose to study for a full-time undergraduate nursing degree, your first year of study is known as a common foundation programme (CFP). The knowledge and skills you learn in the CFP are relevant to nurses of all branches, whether you choose to study adult nursing or paediatric nursing. In your second and third years, you will specialise in your chosen field.

The accreditation of prior knowledge and skills

If you have embarked on education in a relevant field in the past, or you have significant work experience in health care against your name, you may be able to bypass certain modules of your nursing degree course. This process is called accreditation of prior learning and may enable you to complete your degree over a shorter period of time.

Registering as a nurse

Your chosen nursing school will provide you the skills and knowledge you need to register with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC). Once you have registered with the NMC, you will be free to find work as a nurse.

Continuing your nurse education

Once you have graduated from nursing school, you will be expected to continue learning. Throughout the course of your nursing career, you will need to be up-to-date with changes in your field. You will therefore be required to study for continuing professional development courses and if you wish to move higher up the career ladder, it may be necessary for you to study for further qualifications.

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