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Nursing series: Ideal work experience for a nursing degree

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Work experience is great to have when pursuing nursing.  It offers you a chance to see what it is like working within the nursing field.  You may find that certain nursing specialities appeal to you more than others. 

Why you need it

Work experience is not required but it is necessary if you wish to determine which nursing area(s) you would like to work in.  University level nursing programs are also very competitive and have high dropout rates.  Work experience will help set you apart from the rest of the other nursing applicants by showing your dedication to becoming a nurse. 

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Ways you can earn work experience

There are a few ways in which you can gain work experience.  Some of the methods are listed below:

  • Volunteering:  Allows you to work alongside staff and shadow them in the day to day tasks required of a nurse.  You will not be paid for your work but you will still gain the necessary work experience and possible recommendations.  You can take a gap year and either volunteer within the UK or abroad.  Examples: Private hospitals, NHS, private clinics, private health centres, charities or social enterprises that assist with long-term disabilities and other health conditions, organizations that provide first aid (St. John Ambulance, Red Cross), residential care homes and day care centres.
  • Year 10 work experience:  You can gain this through opportunities offered by the NHS through NHS trusts.  These types of trusts are often organized between the NHS and local schools or local work placement agencies.  Your school’s careers advisor should be able to give you more detailed information about the NHS and NHS’s trusts and any other opportunities that may be open to you.
  • Part-time and full-time work/ apprenticeships: If it is possible, look for work that is within the medical field or allows you to get training as a healthcare assistant. Working in a daycare centre or places that assist with disabled, mental health, and or elderly are also good places to check.
  • Other options: Caring for friends, family or a person who is disabled can also be considered work experience.  Shadowing a nurse, doctor or other medical professional may also help with gaining experience and insight into the day to day tasks. If you get the chance, talking to a nurse, doctor, or medical professional, in a one-on-one interview, can help you gain some insight into what you want to do with your degree. 
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Final thoughts and advice

It may be hard to get a placement in many places due to the limited spots available.  As stated there are many ways in which you can gain your work experience.  One other method that was not mentioned above is getting experience in a customer-oriented field or any field that can be applied to the medical field. When you do get the opportunity to get a placement or volunteer make sure you gain as much knowledge from the experience.  By doing so you allow yourself to grow as a potential nurse and strengthen your resolve as a nursing student.  

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