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February 3, 2017

Nursing courses that you can access without A-Levels

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Access to nursing courses if you don't have A-Levels

Nurses are more in demand than ever before. Shortages in the NHS are hitting the headlines and experts in the profession suggest that Brexit will only add to staffing challenges. By making a career change now, you can access numerous job openings in the healthcare industry. In 2017, the prospects have never been brighter for nursing students and statistics reveal a particular lack of specialist nurses. Employment potential is high and six months after graduation from a nursing course, over 90% of graduates are in paid work.

Do you no longer enjoy what you do? Many people find that they’re looking for challenges that their current job simply can’t provide. The history of nursing reveals that men and women have always been drawn to roles where they can make a difference. It’s not too late to train to become a nurse and start a new career.

What steps do you need to take to become a nurse?

To work as a nurse in the UK, you need a degree, to be registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) and to be DBS checked. Universities across the UK offer adult nursing BSc courses and you’ll spend three years being professionally trained to work in a healthcare environment. Higher education offers the chance to find out where your strengths lie and develop your personal skills.

Going to university as a mature student can be daunting, especially if you’re juggling a young family, but countless people come to nursing in later life. You might be surprised to learn that a third of new students are older than 21. At Stonebridge, we believe that success can come at any age, which is why we offer all the support you need to reach university and continue your nursing education.


A woman using a laptop to study online via distance learning.

Studying with Stonebridge

Are you concerned that you don’t have the skills or qualifications to start a nursing career? If you’ve always wanted to be a registered nurse, but don’t have your A-Levels, or a formal education, we can help. You can study an Access to Higher Education Diploma (Health), on a nursing Level 3 pathway, through distance learning.

Once your course is complete, you’ll meet the entry requirements of many nursing courses (we advise checking with individual schools of nursing and health sciences departments). Please note that you will also need a grade C or above in both GCSE Maths and English.

Access to Higher Education Diplomas offer flexible study options. You can keep your current job and fit in learning around family life by working online, from home. Our students benefit from part-time study and have up to two years to finish their course. Alternatively, if you prefer fast-track study methods, you can gain your qualification in as little as 9 months.

With dedicated personal tutor support and access to PEARL, our innovative Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), you’ll have the tools to prepare for a nursing course at university. Our adaptable qualification will not only build your healthcare knowledge base, but also update your academic skills. Gain access to nursing courses across the country and take the next step in your career. You’ll explore topics including human nutrition, psychology and contemporary medical issues. Find out more about health services in the UK and consider how poverty and social factors come into play.

Flexible funding

You may be eligible for a 19+ Learner Loan, which will completely fund the cost of your Access to Higher Education Diploma. You’ll only need to start affordable monthly repayments once you earn over £21,000. If you finish an undergraduate course, the loan will be wiped out.

What responsibilities do nurses have?

Supporting patients and reassuring friends and relatives is a key part of nursing. Hectic hospital environments often leave people feeling neglected, so regular conversation is crucial. Nursing is also practical and you’ll need to carry out tasks including giving injections, taking blood pressure, cleaning wounds and working closely with doctors to track progression. The role combines assessment, analysis and evaluation. You could be addressing medical problems at every level, from minor injuries through to long-term illnesses. 

So, what makes nurses great at what they do? It’s common to worry that you don’t have what it takes to enter a fast-paced healthcare setting, but you may already have useful transferable skills.

To progress in nursing requires qualities including patience and the ability to work in a team. Any nursing job has the potential to be practical, interactive and rewarding.

Where can nurses find employment?

You could work as a nurse in the UK or overseas. Nurses are employed by NHS trusts and can be based anywhere from A&E departments, to intensive care units (ICUs). There are also job opportunities in private hospitals, at doctor’s surgeries, in nursing homes and even in schools or prisons. You could build a career in a wide variety of settings.

Nursing is a broad sector and many people choose to specialise in areas such as mental health or working in children’s wards. You’ll develop a unique set of employability skills as you learn how to monitor patients, communicate with a team and assess injuries.

Woman taking a man's blood pressure after completing a nursing course

Planning your career path

A degree in nursing will give you the academic credentials, and practical experience, to develop a successful career in a variety of nursing healthcare professions. Many people retrain late in life and nursing studies are often the next step for someone working in health and social care. Equally, higher education courses can be a fantastic choice for anyone who wants to completely overhaul their career.

Unlike many university degrees, an adult nursing course often leads directly to a job. Students frequently take on voluntary work to add to their experience during their studies. This can include work in a hospital or care home. It can also help to speak to nurses about their employment path and get a feel for common progression routes.

There are opportunities for nurses to take their career to the next level by becoming a team leader, nursing consultant or nursing sister. If you decide to return to studying, a master’s degree can give you the qualifications you need to work as an advanced nurse practitioner. You could also be promoted to a managerial role and eventually apply to become a director of nursing. You’ll start on a salary of between £22,000 and £28,500 and with experience could take home £26,250 to £41,000. Nursing consultants can expect to earn up to £48,000.

Many nurses move into other areas of medical care including health visiting and midwifery. A nursing degree can also be used to pursue roles in other professions, including fields such as the social sciences. You could become a social worker, police officer or counsellor, or inspire the next generation of nurses in an educational job.

The future of nursing

As technology advances, nurses will need to keep up with developments, but they will also have many more tools at their disposal. Health services in the UK are stretched and there are already plans for processes to become automated. The NHS has set itself the goal of being paperless by 2020. Access to digital information will make it easier for nurses to offer patients the right care. New technology has already been introduced through recent Government projects, including real-time dashboards, digital images and online interactions.

As health services in the UK adapt to change and the increasing demands of a growing and aging population, nurses will play a vital role. Nursing is a diverse career path that brings with it numerous opportunities to progress and specialise. Take the first step towards your new career by beginning an Access to Higher Education Diploma (Health) and join our many employable graduates already finding success. Get in touch to discover more and enquire about our distance learning qualifications.


A-Z book of courses



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