Answer for the UK.
The route to becoming a qualified nurse is currently by way of a university diploma or degree. The courses are generally 3 years in length and both lead to the same professional level.
The advantages of doing a degree are mainly for moving into certain specialist areas, such as management or teaching/lecturing and for career progression in some cases, however, you are fully qualified to register and work once you have completed either the diploma or degree. It is also possible to do a top-up from diploma to degree.
The main differences between the diploma and degree are:
- Entry requirements currently 5 GCSEs or equivalent
- Funding via a non-means tested bursary (a set figure regardless of income)
- Entry requirements currently 2 A levels or equivalent
- Funding via means-tested bursary (calculated on your financial situation) with a possibility to apply for a student loan.
As each university sets its own entry requirements, the above should be used as a guide only. You will need to contact the individual universities directly to see what entry requirements you will need.
Universities offering the degree or diploma in nursing can be found on the NHS Careers website, using the "Course Finder" tool at:
Degrees and diploma programmes comprise of 50% theory and 50% practice, with time split between the higher education institute (HEI), which runs the course, and practical placements in a variety of healthcare settings.
You will only be entitled to funding if you meet specific eligibility criteria. For details visit the NHS Student Bursaries website (www.nhspa.gov.UK/sgu). If you do not meet the criteria, you will need to find a university willing to accept you and you will have to fund the course yourself. Very few places are available to self funding students.
To apply for diploma and degree courses, you will need to contact:
Universities & Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS)
New Barn Lane
Tel: 0871 468 0 468 (Applications)
Tel: 0870 1122211 (General Enquiries)
Once qualified the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) advises "that all newly registered registrants should have a formal period of support (Preceptorship), under the guidance of a preceptor, for a minimum of four months, although the precise length of time will vary according to individual need and local circumstances.
Registrants should be allocated a named individual, who works in the same area of practice and in the same setting and who is available to help, advise and support. Preceptors are an additional support for nurses allocated upon starting to practice nursing.
Further information about preceptorship can be found on the NMC website (www.nmc-UK.org).
NHS employing organisations will usually indicate preceptorship arrangements in details of job vacancies advertised on the NHS Jobs website (www.jobs.nhs.UK).
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