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Registered Nurse – 3 year student and Registered Nurse Degree Apprenticeship routes.

What is the role of a Registered Nurse

Registered nurses observe patients and assess their needs. You’ll plan and deliver the most appropriate care for them, and evaluate the results. Building a trusting relationship with each patient is essential. Your aim is to improve your patients’ quality of life, whatever their situation. You’ll need to take lots of factors into account and juggle many priorities to get the best possible results for your patients.

Your nursing career will mean working with adults of all ages. They may suffer from one or more long or short-term physical health conditions. This could include heart disease, injuries from an accident, pneumonia, arthritis, diabetes or cancer.

You could work in a variety of settings including hospital wards, outpatient units, patients' home and clinics. You'll be part of the multidisciplinary teams with other professionals such as occupational therapists, pharmacists, radiographers and healthcare assistants. You'll also work closely with patients' families and carers.

What qualifications and experience do I need?

To become an adult nurse, the main route is through a three year degree course at university. Entry requirements for these courses can vary depending on where and how you’d like to study, so it's important to check with individual universities.

Typically you'll need a minimum of five GCSEs at grade 4/C or above, possibly in English language or literature and a science subject. You'll also need two A levels or equivalent level 3 qualifications to take an undergraduate degree. Some universities may ask for three A levels or equivalent. If you already have a degree, you might be able to study for a postgraduate qualification. 

There are other routes into adult nursing such as the registered nurse degree apprenticeships (RNDA) and nursing associate apprenticeships.

Typically RNDAs will undertake a level 5 / foundation degree (FD), as an Assistant Practitioner or Nursing Associate and then top up to the degree through an apprenticeship route. These RNDAs study while being employed and take two to three years to convert their FD to a nursing degree. Or alternatively RNDAs can also start a four year programme and will typically be required to hold a level 3 qualification prior to commencement. Both routes of RNDA require the individual to hold maths and english level 2 functional skills/ GCSE grade A-C or 4-9 and need to be employed by the Trust. (Please see the Roadmap on the nursing webpage for further details)

The first thing to decide is which field of nursing you want to study in. In all of these fields you’ll have the opportunity to make a real difference to the lives of people each and every day. Not all routes have the RNDA option. The four fields of nursing are:

  • Adult nursing
  • Children’s nursing
  • Learning disability nursing
  • Mental health nursing


Pay and benefits

A registered nurse is a Band 5 – please refer to the latest Agenda for Change pay scales


This is a registered practitioner role


My Story: Adam Hanley

My name is Adam Hanley and I have been working for UHP Trust for 11 years.

How I got into this role

At 18 I left the café where I was working whilst studying at college. I had no experience behind me and wanted a new challenge. I started as a Healthcare Assistant (HCA) and made my way through the ranks. I completed the HCA Level 1, 2, 3 and the Assistant Practitioner role. The roles were within the Acute Stroke and Neurology environment as well as the Acute Care Team.

I was very fortunate to be a part of the pilot scheme for Nursing Degree Apprenticeships. This opportunity was a first for the Trust and Plymouth University, giving me academic and professional development through their current workforce. Without this opportunity and exposure in previous roles, I would not be where I am today which is a Registered Adult Nurse in an acute setting

My role at UHP

A typical day on The Surgical Assessment Unit (SAU) means I work with a multi-disciplinary team to admit, assess and treat patients that require surgical intervention whilst maintaining patient safety and dignity. Once treatment has started to aid recovery or has been planned, we relocate the patients to the most appropriate area specialising in their condition. This way of working is 24/7 where patients are admitted from multiple entry points including the emergency department. As a RN in this environment, you are not only there for aiding and starting the treatment process, but also supporting the patient and relatives to reassure, listen and educate in what can be a very scary and worrying time.

The best bits and the challenges

I can honestly say I love my job and I’m glad I finally followed my dream, as bumpy and long as the process was. Being a part of a patient’s journey when they are at their most vulnerable and knowing that you have made that difference in any shape or form is what achieving greatness is. The biggest challenge for me is nursing with dyslexia having only been diagnosed 12 months ago. Luckily the support from diagnosis to date stops it becoming a barrier.

Life outside of work

Friends and family are a big part of my life and I see as much of them as I can. My husband branched out with his own business as a sail and cover maker. I spend a lot of time helping him as well as learning how to sail, which I never wanted to do!

My top tips to being successful

Going to university to study academically allowed me to take on more knowledge and responsibilities than I thought possible. It has provided me with career progression, something I never thought I’d achieve. Clinically it aided my experience and skills to be utilised in a way I never imagined.

I have struggled all my life, with speech, writing, reading etc. Going into education as an adult understanding that there is help to support you as long as you take ownership and break down barriers proves the possibilities are never ending. If I can get a First-Class Honours Degree you can!

Having 9 years’ healthcare experience, before starting the course, gave me a good academic and professional understanding. I was able to visualise myself as a nurse and overcome my fears whilst gaining confidence. I have not only developed these skills to benefit myself I have also done it for the people I care for as well as the teams I work alongside.

Before I started my journey, I was always asked ‘where do you want to go, what do you want to be?’. I always said take each day as it comes and see. Now my plan is to be an advocate for my patients, grow as a person and as a Registered Nurse wherever my journey takes me.


My Story: Adriana Muñoz Navarro


How I got into the role

This is my first nursing job after qualifying two years ago. I finished Nursing in Spain and moved to England to work as a nurse but needed to complete a language test (IELTS) to get my PIN. While studying for this, I joined a nursing home and worked as a carer which gave me wonderful experiences and helped me to learn the slang I was going to need to understand my future (and my present) patients. As soon as I got my PIN I looked for jobs and I thought MAU sounded like the perfect place to start using my knowledge and learn so much more about Acute Medicine.

What I do

I look after patients mainly coming from the Emergency Department in the process of waiting to get a plan/diagnosis. I run tests like urine samples and complete risk assessments so we can identify areas of the patient’s health where I can intervene or refer this patient to a specialist nurse, etc. As well as monitor the patient’s observations to beware of any changes during their stay and administer regular and new medication.

The best bits and challenges

It is a difficult stage of the hospital stay as everything progress so fast, so the biggest challenge is trying to complete as many jobs as possible while looking out for the patients and my colleagues in the ward. What takes me to the best bit, or one of the best is the amazing team integrated in MAU, from the bottom to the top, everyone supports each other.

Life outside of work

I enjoy swimming in the sea with my friends as well as practicing Yoga, along with spending quality time with my family.

Since the community at work it’s so delightful, sometimes I end up meeting my colleagues out of work to have coffees or go for walks.

Career plan and top tips

As I stated, this is only my first nursing experience and I hope I have loads more but for now I am where I want to be, continuing to learn every day. I would like to explore other areas of nursing in the future but I know I can always count on MAU for bank shifts and support.

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