So, you’re thinking of stepping into the world of nursing. Discover the best courses to start your career and thrive in the healthcare industry.
With more than 70 specialisms, nursing is considered one of the most versatile careers to pursue. With a recent survey revealing that more than 90% of people claim to trust nurses, it is a treasured and valued profession.
So, if you’re thinking of delving into the world of nursing, or you’ve qualified and are looking to grow your opportunities – what next?
Our online nursing courses can provide you with the skills you need to reach your professional goals. Before we take a look at our top five courses, let’s learn what a nurse does, how to become a nurse, nurse specialisms, the benefits of online courses and what a career in nursing could look like.
Table of Contents
What does a nurse do?
Nurses are a vital part of healthcare. They look after people who are unwell or injured and play a key role in protecting public health. Nurses work with other medical professionals to make sure that individuals receive the best care possible.
Nursing is a profession that is constantly evolving – responding to advances in technology and global health issues. Learn more about nursing’s past, present and future and explore the future of healthcare in our articles examining how the field of medicine continues to change.
Making up the largest professional body in healthcare, the day in the life of a nurse is diverse, with no day the same. These are some of a Registered Nurse’s responsibilities:
- Observations and assessments of patients
- Communicating with patients
- Administering medications and treatments
- Observing, monitoring, and recording symptoms
- Assisting in medical procedures, where appropriate
- Performing wound care
- Operating medical equipment
- Drawing samples of body fluids for testing and laboratory work
- Generating, delivering and evaluating patient care plans with the medical team
- Educating and supporting patients (and families) with treatment plans
- Supervising licensed practical and vocational nurses, nursing assistants and nursing students
How to become a nurse
There are two main ways to become a nurse. The first is to get a university nursing degree, with two types to choose from. To decide which one is right for you, you’ll need to know whether you want to study for a single or dual specialism. Not all universities offer a dual specialism. A dual specialism means that you will study to qualify in two fields, for example, both adult and children’s nursing. A single specialism refers to only specialising in one field as part of your degree.
The second way of becoming a nurse is through a registered nurse degree apprenticeship (RNDA). An RNDA is a more flexible route that means you don’t need to be a full-time university student.
Both types of nursing qualifications require you to spend time learning the theoretical content and completing practical training in a medical setting, such as a hospital. Preparing ahead of applying for a degree course will give you the best chance of being accepted.
Access to higher education for nursing
If you want to pursue a career in nursing you will need 2 A-levels or a Level 3 Diploma in nursing.
Many educational providers deliver access to Higher Education diploma courses. There are advantages to opting for this route instead of the A-Level option. For example, these qualifications can be completed entirely online, so you can study anytime that suits you. Once you have this under your belt, you’ll be eligible to apply for one of two routes to becoming a nurse.
A nursing degree typically takes three years to complete. You will need to have attained GCSE and A-level qualifications before applying for a place on a nursing degree course. If you have not completed A-levels you will need an Access to Higher Learning Diploma (ACNRSF) qualification.
Registered Nursing Degree Apprenticeship
The other route is to apply for a registered nursing degree apprenticeship (RNDA). This is a slightly more flexible way of achieving a nursing degree, as more time is spent on placement in a medical facility or hospital. Time to attend university is scheduled, but it is not full time.
How to decide to become a nurse
If you’re still deciding whether you’re ready to become a nurse or which branch of healthcare to go into, read our article outlining the best courses for careers in care and healthcare.
Already working in healthcare but prepping for career advancement? Our article on healthcare 2.0 outlines the upcoming changes and technological advancements we can expect to see in this sector in the coming years.
It can also help to take a relevant online course, giving you the chance to learn more about what it’s like to work in the healthcare industry. You can complete them at your own pace, growing your knowledge while working around your schedule.
Specialising as a nurse
Choosing a specialism will depend largely on which area of nursing interests you the most. You may have experience working with children and know that you communicate well with them, or you may feel you have an understanding of how mental health issues can impact people’s lives. Recognising and using positive experiences from your own life might steer you into choosing a specialism.
There are four areas of nursing specialisms:
- Children’s nursing
- Adult nursing
- Mental health nursing
- Learning disability nursing
When you start your training as a nurse you will choose a specialism — an area of nursing that you feel most suited to. If you have a particular interest in a field of nursing, for example, mental health, you can opt for this as your specialism. If you want to work with children who have learning disabilities, you would choose a university that enables you to choose dual specialisms.
Reading a description of each specialism can help you decide which is the best choice for you, helping you start your career as a healthcare professional.
Online nursing courses
It is possible to complete part of your nursing degree online. This gives you a more flexible approach to the theoretical content. However, you will still need to complete practical placements in a hospital or other medical facility.
Once you have qualified, online learning means you can accelerate your skills through short, manageable courses. Designed to fit around busy lives and jobs, FutureLearn online courses upskill practising nurses with certifications from respected universities and can be completed entirely online.
Working in healthcare
Working in healthcare is challenging and rewarding in equal measure. Healthcare workers often work long hours and anti-social shift patterns, with night shifts being a regular part of the job. It is a physically and mentally demanding job; you will be on your feet, for the most part, working with people who are sick or injured.
However, healthcare is as rewarding as it is challenging. Being able to nurse someone through an illness or help treat a patient with a long-term disease will bring a great sense of job satisfaction for many people. If you want to learn more about the importance of job satisfaction, read our article.
Healthcare provides the opportunity to work in a rewarding role, helping people who are ill to get better and supporting their friends and family. People skills are important in nursing and learning how to have conversations that can change lives becomes integral to providing the best care. Take a look at what a typical health assessment can look like, through our open step, Doing the health assessment.
Nurses work closely with doctors and specialists and are always in high demand, so there is great job security that comes with working in the healthcare sector, too.
Top 5 courses to become a nurse
Now that you’ve decided to learn more about nursing, here are some great online courses to get you going. These five courses will help you feel prepared for your future nursing career or help you progress further in the healthcare profession.
1. Introduction to Nursing: The Role of Nurses Around the World by King’s College London
This four-week course has been designed for those interested in taking up a career in nursing. Aimed at teaching you about the role of nurses around the world, this online nursing course teaches you the ways nurses support people and communities. You’ll learn how nurses maintain and improve public health and contribute to the development of society.
Run in partnership with King’s College London, you will learn with senior lecturer Julie Bliss.
2. Start Your Career as a Healthcare Professional: Online Work-Related Learning by Leicester University
Excited by medicine and hoping to pursue a career in the NHS? Still undecided whether you want to become a midwife, nurse or doctor? This four-week course, aimed at those in secondary school and above gives you the chance to delve a bit deeper into the NHS.
Providing insight into many areas of healthcare, from General Practice to the Labour Ward, you will learn about what skills you need and the best way to go about getting into healthcare.
This course is run by Leicester University, in partnership with Medicine Calling. You will learn with Sarah Addison, who supports students to learn more about entering into healthcare.
3. Introduction of Nursing: Bioscience, Psychology and Sociology by the University of York
Want to get onto the frontline and observe the NHS? You’ll get to observe care in an assisted living, GP surgery and in people’s homes, and see first-hand the day to day challenges of healthcare. You’ll explore the four specialisms of nursing and learn how biology, psychology and sociology impact emergency and intensive care.
This online ExpertTrack runs for three weeks with four hours of weekly study and is aimed at upskilling learners who are keen to take up a future in nursing. Discussions with other learners will help you to grow your skills and share your ideas.
4. Caring for Older People: a Partnership Model by Deakin University
Hoping to go into adult care or interested in building links between older people and those that care for them? Or perhaps, you are about to start receiving care and want to know more.
Our course has been created to look at care and its challenges around the globe. You’ll learn it can be made stronger and more successful for both the caregiver and receiver. Never has this been such a relevant course, with our expanding care system and elderly population.
Developed by Deakin University, you’ll learn with Professor Alison Hutchinson and nurse, Kerry Rigby, in this course.
5. Basic First Aid: How to Be an Everyday Hero by the University of Glasgow
Want to learn how to save lives? This course is designed to teach you how to recognise the first signs of an emergency and equip you with some of the skills needed to manage a first aid situation.
You will also learn how to recognise and manage acute bleeds, choking, and non-breathing or unconscious patients, all with the help of senior lecturer in Genetics at the University of Glasgow, Professor Leah Marks.
Nursing is a noble and trusted profession practised by highly skilled professionals. It is a rewarding job that comes with opportunities to progress your career and develop your expertise, once qualified. Deciding which path you take depends on the route that suits you, but starting with one of these five courses will help you get a taste of what a career in nursing could look like!