I balanced motherhood, work and study to pursue my dream job

“Growing up, I couldn’t manage school – I think it was a bit too much. I just couldn’t settle because home life was unsettled.”

Keilagh couldn’t settle at school and chose to leave at 14. When she became a mum, she decided to pursue her dream and train to be a nurse.

After leaving school at 14, Keilagh received some training to support looked-after children. A few years later, when her daughter was born, Keilagh decided to retrain for her dream job.

She looked up how to get a nursing qualification, found the degree that she needed and learned about the requirements to get on the course. Keilagh completed her Maths and English GCSEs and a health access course, then applied for university.

Keilagh was over the moon when she was offered university places. She loved the combination of lectures, skills workshops and placements that she did three days a week.

She continued to work part-time to fund her learning and by 2021 will be a qualified nurse. The whole experience has given her more confidence and will allow her to make a different life for her family.

“I think learning as an adult is so much easier because you know you want it. By 2021, I’ll be a qualified nurse. That’s my future. I can build and save.”

What to expect if you want to be a nurse

  • Nuse average salary: NHS band 5-6. Read more about NHS bands. Salaries will differ in private healthcare.
  • Nurse typical working hours: 37 to 42 hours per week

What qualifications do you need to become a nurse?

  • Typical entry requirements:
    • University: Most people qualify by studying a degree in Nursing. You first need to decide which area of nursing you'd like to work in: adult nursing, children's nursing, learning disability nursing, or mental health nursing. Some "dual field" degrees allow you to study in two of the fields. Full-time courses usually take three years. You may be able to join a nursing degree on the second year of a course if you already have a degree in: a health-related subject; Psychology; Life Sciences, or Social Work
    • Apprenticeship: You may be able to do a "registered nurse degree apprenticeship (RNDA)", combining academic study and on-the-job training. You will need to secure a position as an RNDA and your employer will release you to study at university part time. Most RNDAs take four years, but it could be less if you have relevant previous learning and experience. Keep an eye on the NHS jobs website and the Government find an apprenticeship page for RNDA opportunities
    • Armed forces: You can train for a career as a nurse in the Armed Forces. Check out the Army, Royal Air Force and Royal Navy websites for more information
    • Nursing associate: Nursing associates work alongside health care support workers and registered nurses in both health and social care. You could start out as a nursing associate and work towards training as a registered nurse.

You'll find it helpful to get some paid or voluntary experience in social care or healthcare work before you apply for nurse training.

This information is a guide and is constantly changing. Please check the National Careers Service website for the latest information and all the qualifications needed. (Sources: LMI for All, National Careers Service, NHS Health Careers).

Find out more

For more information about careers in nursing, you can check out:

For careers advice in all parts of the UK visit: National Careers service (England), nidirect (Northern Ireland), My World of Work (Scotland) and Careers Wales (Wales).

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