When I tell people I’ve applied to study nursing at university I quite often get the response of either ‘why not medicine’ or ‘you only want to be a nurse?’ Now I have applied for university and have received offers from some of the top universities, I want to dispel any myths about nursing as a degree and profession and give you an insight into what it would be like to study nursing at university. Although I’m not studying it yet, here are my eight reasons why you should consider nursing.
The first reason, and arguably the most inviting, is that you are guaranteed to find employment following your course. Many graduates are undecided as to which direction to head in, or where to find a job, but 94% of graduate nurses find employment within the first six months of finishing their degree.
The second reason is that nursing can be one of the most rewarding degrees and professions. Despite what you read about nursing in the papers and the news, the majority of nurses find the job incredibly rewarding. Nursing is all about doing all you can medically and socially to provide the best possible care for your patients, whatever their illness or disease. There are very few jobs where you finish a day or night at work and go home feeling like you have made a difference to someone’s life. For many acutely ill patients it can be menial daily tasks which improve their lives. Although it can be one of the most challenging careers, every day you are doing something to improve the life of someone often living in pain and fear.
The third reason is because it is a constant challenge. It can be said that a hospital or healthcare environment is extremely pressurising, and things can change in a split second. On the job you’ll have to be able to multi-task and deal with dozens of patients simultaneously. If you like a fast-paced environment with a lot of variety then this profession is for you. Nursing is an extremely important sector in the UK, especially with an ageing and expanding population.
The fourth reason to choose nursing is that you can become very specialist or you can cover a large variety of areas. When choosing to do nursing at university, you will have the option to study Adult, Child or Mental Health. This opens up a large variety of paths to follow without having to be too specific, but, like many courses, you will specify which area you would like to study in your third year. However, having spoken to student nurses who are currently studying, you may well have an idea of what you would like to specialise in but after your placement you may fall in love with another field of study.
The fifth reason and one of the main reasons I have chosen to study nursing is the balance of theory and practical. Nursing degrees are extremely hands-on and combine academic work with real life, hands-on experience. Typically, whichever type of nursing field you choose, you will spend half your time on different placements and the other half on placement either in the community or in a hospital. This balance allows you to work with different types of patients and lets you discover what type of nursing you would like to choose. The Nursing Midwifery Council states that a student nurse must complete 2,300 hours of training in order for them to graduate, therefore you are guaranteed to be busy and challenged the whole time.
The sixth reason is the flexibility and variety the career offers. There are so many different branches of nursing. You can choose to go into teaching, management, forensic nursing or community nursing. Another option which many nurses opt for is to go on and study for a master’s or a PhD, dual qualify in different fields of nursing or specialise within an area like cardiac or oncology. I think many people don’t necessarily understand the demands of nursing and every student nurse has to complete different shifts whether they are nights, short days or 12-hour shifts. Different shifts suit different people but becoming adaptable is a very important quality which every nurse should have.
The seventh reason is that nurses are highly respected, especially among other healthcare professionals. The round-the- clock care they provide is vital to any healthcare system and they play an important role in multidisciplinary teams. Their views and opinions are listened to just as much as those of the doctors and surgeons they’re working with.
The eighth and final reason is that the NHS needs more nurses! A recurrent news story over the last couple of years has shown us that we need more nurses. A quarter of student nurses that start, drop out before graduating due to the demands of the course. At the end of 2015, there were 103,826 applications for nursing roles, however by the end of 2017 the number fell to 91,189. The lack of nurses cost the NHS £2.4 billion last year; this shortage of nurses is also demonstrated by the increasing waiting times in A&E. The more students we can get to apply for nursing, the higher the chance of increasing the number of nurses in the NHS. To conclude, I am writing this article because I believe that not enough schools promote nursing as a degree. It’s not something any of us study at school or something we are introduced to and the only reason I discovered the degree was after doing some work experience in a hospice. So even if you don’t think nursing is for you, do some research or read about nursing as a degree to gain some small insight into this incredible profession.
Caroline (Year 13)
LTH NHS TRUST/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY