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'Should I get some work experience before I apply to university?'


Can you advise this student nurse?

“I have decided that I want to go into nursing, but my aunt is a nurse and said that some of the students she meets are too young and immature. She doesn’t think they should be able to go into it that young anymore.

”I’m not sure if she’s right or not, but it did get me thinking – what’s the rush? I have the grades to get in, but I am only 19 and have no life or work experience whatsoever yet.

“I’ve heard how full-on a nursing degree is and I’m not sure if I would get more from it if I work as a healthcare assistant or in a care home for a year or two (or even any job)?

“Has anyone else taken this route and gone into it a little later? If so, did you find you were at an advantage when studying and on placements because of this, or is it better to just go for it?”

Please use the comments section below to share your advice


Readers' comments (3)

  • Personally I would say it's a great idea to get some work experience. I started a nursing course at 18 but decided to leave after 6 months. I worked as a healthcare support worker for several years before returning to university at 23 and finished my degree just last week. Having gained work and life experience, I felt I was a completely different person the second time around and it definitely demonstrated that I wasn't ready the first time. I had a better work ethic, was much more organised and even took on extra activities such as a peer assisted learning scheme for first year students, something I never would have done previously. I think it definitely helped me on placements too. Whist this may not be the case for others, I know gaining work experience beforehand helped me. A job in healthcare work might also help you to be sure it's what you want to you quite rightly say the nursing course is full on! Good luck in whatever you decide.

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  • Almost my entire cohort is over 25, with about half of us being over 35. We've all had careers or degrees from previous endeavours, and almost everyone would agree that academic and life experience has been invaluable in getting the best from our training.

    That said, there are a couple of 19 year olds who are doing very well and going to make fantastic nurses.

    I know a lot of people who wish they'd taken up nursing sooner, but not many people who wish they'd waited. I'd say: if now feels like the right time, then it's the right time. Go for it!

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  • I applied successfully to uni when I was 18 but due to circumstances beyond my control I withdrew my application. Three years later at the age of 21 with that time spent working in a nursing home I applied and later attended uni to study Adult Nursing. It was hard work. Much harder than I thought it would be but I was so pleased when I graduated.
    I have retired due to ill health (Age 42) but after 20 years of nursing I still loved it and I can honestly say if I had to do it again, I would, and at 21.
    I knew how to communicate with people in a more mature and appropriate way, I knew what it was like to watch and be part of someone's life when they were going through tough times. I really don't think I would have completed the course at 18.
    You have to do what is right for you at the end of the day. Even if you got a weekend job in a nursing home or community nursing while attending your course it would help in ways you never imagined. As you said life experience is a factor, but that can't be taught. So now the big question is "Are you going to go for it ?" Let us all know and good luck, you will love it.

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