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How to get a nursing degree without the tuition fees

If you’re compassionate and caring, with a real interest in people’s health and wellbeing, you might have thought about pursuing a career in nursing.  

Now you can become a nurse without the costs and debts involved in going to university. You’ll even get a nursing degree. In this guide we’ll look at the brand new nursing apprenticeships, what they’ll teach you and whether this path might be right for you.

What are nursing apprenticeships?

Apprenticeships are work programmes where you learn on the job, gaining a professional qualification while earning a salary. (Read All About Apprenticeships to learn more.)

Here’s the lowdown on the brand new nursing apprenticeships:

  • You will study at a university, while working at a hospital or clinic.
  • You will train to become a registered nurse. After the apprenticeship you’ll be able to apply for registration with the Nursing and Midwifery Council.
  • They are degree apprenticeships – meaning you actually gain a full nursing degree.
  • They take 3-4 years.
  • They’re free! In fact, you’ll get paid to do a nursing apprenticeship. Exactly how much will be up to your employer – but here’s an idea of apprenticeship wages.

What will I learn?

During your apprenticeship you’ll be given the abilities and knowledge required to become a fully qualified nurse.

You’ll learn the core skills involved in the profession, and then you’ll also choose to specialise in one of the following three areas: adult, children, learning disabilities, or mental health.

Your nurse training will teach you how to:

nurse taking blood pressure
During your nursing apprenticeship, you'll gain an
understanding of how things like behaviour, habits, culture and
the environment can affect people’s health.
  • Understand the structure and function of the human body.
  • Assess what kind of care or treatment patients need.
  • Provide a range of different treatments based on your (growing!) knowledge of pharmacology, anatomy, physiology and psychology.
  • Manage patient’s medicines.
  • Understand infection control, nutrition.
  • Put the needs of patients first.
  • Promote health and wellbeing so that patients feel able to make sensible choices about their own health.
  • Work in a safe and compassionate way.
  • Provide care for patients who have “complex” needs, which could mean multiple problems like physical and mental health issues.
  • Understand the different laws that relate to nursing, for example how you would protect vulnerable adults and deal with confidential information.
  • Help children and young people to express their views and preferences.
  • Improve the health and independence of people with learning disabilities.

And what skills will I gain?

As well as the technical abilities and expertise you’ll learn during the nursing apprenticeship, you’ll develop lots of really useful key skills, like these:

  • Teamwork: you’ll be working alongside many other health and social care professionals like doctors and social workers – collaborating on decisions and caring for patients.
  • Interpersonal: You’ll communicate with patients, their families and members of the community. You’ll learn how to offer compassionate care to people from all different ages and backgrounds. You’ll learn how to be empathetic and show understanding for people’s lives.
  • Initiative: you will learn how to confidently make decisions and work on your own.
  • Communication: learning how to talk to patients in a respectful and clear way
    student nurse
    People skills are incredibly important when it comes to nursing
    will be a priority during your nurse training. You’ll learn how to actively listen to what your patients are telling you.
  • Leadership: you’ll develop leadership qualities in working with other teams and having confidence in your decisions.

Is a nursing apprenticeship right for me?

Being a nurse is rewarding but also challenging. You’ll face lots of emotionally difficult situations and have to work under pressure.

Here are some of the personal qualities nurses should have:

  • Caring and compassionate.
  • Honest and conscientious.
  • Committed and hard working.
  • Courageous and confident to voice any concerns.
  • Adaptable and resilient.

Am I eligible?

You will have to meet the entry requirements of the nursing degree programme offered by the university – for example at the University of Derby that’s 112 UCAS tariff points plus five GCSEs at grade 4 (formerly grade C) or above, including maths, English and science.

Before starting, nurse apprentices also have their numeracy skills assessed by the NMC Approved Education Institution.

What’s are the next steps?

The first nursing degree apprenticeships will be available from September 2017. They will be offered at the Universities of Derby, Gloucestershire, Greenwich and Sunderland. You’ll be able to search for the apprentice vacancies using the government’s Find An Apprenticeship tool.

Interested in a nursing career? Learn more about the skills needed for a career in health.

You might also like…

What skills do I need for a career in social care?

How to become a social worker

How to become a mental health nurse

Image credits

Main image via Freepik, nurse taking blood pressure via Freestock Photos; student nurse by COD Newsroom via Flickr.