How to become a practice nurse
- School / College
4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English, maths and science
2 or 3 A levels, including a science, or a level 3 diploma or access to higher education in health, science or nursing.
You can do a degree in adult nursing approved by the Nursing and Midwifery Council. You might be able to study another area of nursing alongside adult nursing.
You might be able to get additional student financial support through the NHS Learning Support Fund.
You might be able to join the second year of a nursing degree if you already have a degree in:
a health-related subject such as psychology, life sciences, social work
Full-time courses usually take 3 years.
- Nurse Apprenticeships
Most nursing degree apprenticeships will take 4 years. It could take more time if the apprentice takes time off for any permitted reason. If the apprentice already has prior learning and experience which is accepted by the approved education institution under Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL) arrangements it could take less than 4 years. Learn more here —>
A day in the life of a practice nurse
Nurses are the bedrock of any healthcare system. You can varied roles in a full range of range of clinical specialities, There are also opportunities in management, leadership and innovation. You can work anywhere in the world.
Podcast – practice nurse
What we would like to discuss with you is what its like to work as a Practice Nurse. How did you at the age of 17 or 18 decide that practice nursing was the thing that you wanted to do? And were there any challenges that you had to overcome?
How did you decide to become a practice nurse?
I’m from Punjab, India and my interest from the beginning was to become a medical professional. I actually wanted to be a doctor but in Punjab you have to pay a lot of money to the schools for that. I passed tests in medical subjects which was the same level as A Levels but I still didn’t get through to study medicine. Instead of going to do medicine I chose to do nursing, I had that option so I took it. So from there I went into nursing and did my nursing course in India. I worked there for 2 years then came to England and worked in Ashford hospital for a couple months in 1999.
At that time they were not offering the qualification to become a nurse in England so they referred me to care homes that were providing courses. So I did my adaptation to become a nurse there for a few years. While working in care homes I met one of the GPs and he offered me a job. It was 4-8 hours a week, training to become a practice nurse and thats where I started.
Do you have to a degree course to become a practice nurse?
You do. I did mine in India and BSc nursing is 4 years which is the same in England too. This course included theory as well as hospital placements for the practical side. The general structure would be lectures during the mornings or afternoons and hospital placements during the evenings or nights.
Are there any tasks that nurses handle that doctors don’t?
Yes, there are some of the things that the nurses do different to doctors. We do usually work together on tasks but there are things nurses can do better than the doctor’s and doctor’s have tasks they can do better than the nurses. I get asked for advice from doctors often.
Can you change professions to nursing from something unrelated like software engineering?
Yes, anybody can change their profession if they want to. There is a pre nursing course for one year in England to get ready for practice nursing. Then you can do the 3 years practice nursing degree. I had one colleague who had 2 degrees in the past but he became a nurse at the age of 58. During COVID lots of people were changing their roles and we saw bankers become teachers and so on.
What do you recommend people should do as there are many types of nursing?
It depends on what you have interest in. What I did was my general nursing which included pretty much everything. Then after you can choose your profession such as practice nurse, mental nurse or child nurse and so on. This gave me the chance to experience the different sides of nursing before choosing where I wanted to go. So for me it was as a practice nurse.
You can join our NHS work experience programme to learn more.
Learn about other job roles in the NHS
You can find more information and job roles in the NHS below, or join our NHS work experience programme.