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To become a qualified nurse or not: that is the question

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Senior Lecturer, Graham Thurgood, shares his tricks of the trade on how best to answer those tricky interview questions …

Deciding whether to become a qualified nurse is not easy, but many decide to join the profession at an early age due to:

  • Contact with family members who are qualified nurses
  • Seeing nurses care for family members
  • Experiencing nursing first hand as a patient

Vocational and religious factors, as well as wanting to join a respected profession offering an exciting career usually with reliable employment, are other reasons to apply to study nursing.

As potential applicants to nursing courses you need to prepare yourselves thoroughly so you understand what nursing is. This includes exploring what qualified nurses do related to the four fields of nursing; adult, child, mental health and learning disability, as currently you have to specifically apply for courses in these fields.

If you have previous caring experience, and see becoming a qualified nurse as a natural career progression, caution is needed as the roles of unqualified and qualified nurses differ. For example, qualified nurses often do not deliver ‘hands on’ care but supervise others doing this. The qualified nurse’s role involves:

  • Management
  • Leadership
  • Teamworking
  • Quality assurance
  • Teaching
  • Facilitating
  • Accountability
  • Research / evidence based practice

If you understand the qualified nurse’s role, course admissions tutors will know you have ‘done your homework’ and you will not be disillusioned when you become qualified.

An awareness of where nurses from the different fields of nursing work, such as in hospital or community settings, will also help you answer interview questions like, ‘Where would you find Learning Disability nurses working?’ Also, having an understanding of ‘what’ qualified nurses do; type of work, daily routines, client groups, may help you answer the question, ‘What does a qualified children’s nurse do on a daily basis?’

Understanding how nursing relates to other healthcare professions can also help you make an informed decision by recognising other healthcare career options and demonstrate your understanding of the nurse’s role and help you answer the question, ‘What other healthcare professionals do nurses work with?’

Finally, identifying what subjects you as a student nurse may study on a nursing course is useful, as is reading a journal like the Nursing Times to recognise current topical nursing issues.

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