Adult nurse

Adult nursing is a rewarding career where you have a real chance to make a difference to people's lives. As part of your training, you can expect to learn new skills and procedures that help patients. 

Why choose adult nursing

There are many reasons why you should consider a career as an adult nurse. It offers you the chance to make a difference from day one, a high degree of flexibility and a career with excellent employment prospects.

'That’s one of the best things about choosing nursing, the fact that there are so many different options I can take and it’s so flexible.' Aisha Thabet, adult nurse

Read Aisha's story in full

Working life 

From the start of your training and into your first job, you'll learn how to observe patients and assess their needs. You’ll learn to plan and deliver the most appropriate care for them, and evaluate the results. Building a trusting relationship with each patient is essential. Your aim is to improve your patients’ quality of life, whatever their situation. You’ll need to take lots of factors into account and juggle many priorities to get the best possible results for your patients. 

Your nursing career will mean working with adults of all ages. They may suffer from one or more long or short-term physical health conditions. This could include heart disease, injuries from an accident, pneumonia, arthritis, diabetes or cancer.

You could work in a variety of settings including hospital wards, outpatient units, patients' home and clinics. You'll be part of the multidisciplinary teams with other professionals such as occupational therapists, pharmacists, radiographers and healthcare assistants. You'll also work closely with patients' families and carers. 

Entry requirements

To become an adult nurse, the main route is through a degree course at university. Entry requirements for these courses can vary depending on where and how you’d like to study, so it's important to check with universities. You can find all adult nursing course at the bottom of this page. 

Typically you'll need a minimum of five GCSEs at grade 4/C or above, possibly in English language or literature and a science subject. You'll also need two A levels or equivalent level 3 qualifications to take an undergraduate degree. Some universities may ask for three A levels or equivalent. If you already have a degree, you might be able to study for a postgraduate qualification. 

There are other routes into adult nursing such as nurse degree apprenticeships and nursing associate apprenticeships.

New annual payments 

You'll be entitled to receive at least £5,000 a year towards your studies while at university. Your personal circumstances may mean you could receive more. And the good news? You'll never have to pay it back.

Other routes into adult nursing

Nursing degree apprenticeships are available with some employers and numbers are expected to continue to grow. Increasing opportunities to apply for nursing associate apprenticeships are also expected. This can lead to nursing degrees or nurse degree apprenticeships. 

Must have skills 

Don’t forget - academic qualifications aren’t everything. Communication and interpersonal skills are crucial, as well as strong judgement, and being able to teach, advise and manage people. 

If you're applying for a role either directly in the NHS or a university course, you'll be asked to show how you think the values of the NHS Constitution apply in your everyday work. 

Training and career development 

Once you have qualified as an adult nurse, there are a wide range of opportunities open to you. You could specialise in a certain field such as operating theatres, care for the elderly or intensive care. You may want to work in public health, or move into management, teaching or clinical research. The possibilities are endless.

Pay and benefits 

Your standard working week will be around 37.5 hours on a shift pattern which can include nights, early starts, evenings, weekends and bank holidays. As an adult nurse, you’ll be paid on the Agenda for Change (AFC) pay system, typically starting at band 5.

You’ll also have access to the generous NHS Pension Scheme and health service discounts, as well as 27 days of annual leave plus bank holidays.

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