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interconnecting cogs with healthcare symbols

Discover other sectors

This sector not for you?  Don't worry, there are plenty of others to explore.

Nurses specialise in one of the four main branches of nursing - Adult, Child, Mental Health, Learning Disability. As careers progress there is more opportunity to specialise. Training courses usually take a minimum of three years, although some routes may take previous learning into account.

Find out about Nursing

Key Resources

For information about the different roles in nursing, education and training, and case studies, see the Health Careers website.


  • NHS Health Careers - Studying nursing
  • If you already have a degree in a relevant subject you may be able to do the course in two years rather than three.  Degree and diploma course applications are made through UCAS.
  • Nursing degree apprenticeships were introduced in 2016 and are advertised on NHS Jobs.

Further reading

  • Launching your career in Nursing and midwifery, A practical guide by Annabel Smoker is available to read in the Careers and Placements information room
  • Nursing books in the University library at Y0.73
  • Nursing journals available via the University Library
  • How to become an A&E nurse in the UK blog

What skills do I need?

The skills and personal qualities needed include:

  • strong communication skills, including the ability to explain, persuade, encourage and reassure
  • people skills - being able to develop a rapport with people from a wide range of backgrounds
  • a sensitive and caring approach
  • patience
  • teamwork
  • decision making and prioritising
  • resilience
  • ability to work under pressure and cope with change
  • organisational skills.

NHS Health Careers - Roles in nursing lists the specific skills required in different roles.

You might like to take the NHS test to see what health careers would suit you.


Work experience

Think about the groups of people you might be working with once qualified, and try to get relevant work experience.

  • working, work shadowing or volunteering in a hospital, care home or hospice. The York Teaching Hospital website has information on volunteering 
  • working or volunteering with children, the elderly, people with physical or mental health conditions - see our volunteering programmes, or volunteer via Do-It
  • support worker or care worker roles can provide good experience
  • First aid experience can be gained through St John Ambulance or the Red Cross (who offer 8-12 week internships).

Finding jobs

As well as work in the NHS, you will find opportunities with private sector healthcare providers, voluntary organisations, local authorities, education and industry.

For help with CVs, applications and interviews, see the Apply for jobs pages.

What can I do at York?

  • Look for work experience - relevant work experience and voluntary work is very important. It allows you to develop your skills, check that you are comfortable working in health/care settings and demonstrates motivation and commitment to your chosen profession
  • Volunteering offers the opportunity to gain experience in a range of settings and with different client groups.
  • YUSU Volunteering also offers a range of projects including Kids Club, KEEN, Minds in Motion and Tea & Coffee Club.

Podcast and Profiles

Read about York graduates working in nursing. Some went straight into nursing; others had work experience in other areas, or degrees from different backgrounds, before doing a nursing degree.

Find the full list of graduate profiles on York Profiles & Mentors.


What do you actually do?! podcast Calling the Midwife.