Get into UK Nursing School For Dummies
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With the right approach and preparation you can give yourself a head start in applying to nursing school in the U.K. This Cheat Sheet gives you the key things to know about the application timeline, choosing the right university, writing your personal statement and preparing for assessments and interviews.

Planning your nursing school application

Getting into nursing is very competitive. To improve your chances of success you need to research nursing, demonstrate commitment and show motivation. Preparing your application to the highest standard takes time and effort.

This timeline illustrates the milestones to consider in your preparations:

  • 24 months before starting a nursing course: Consider your academic options. Do you need to choose full-time courses, such as “A” levels and BTECs, or are part-time courses, such as ACCESS more appropriate?

  • 20 months: Plan any necessary work experience. Do you need to gain care experience or will any work experience with people be sufficient?

  • 16 months: Undertake research into nursing and the different fields. This helps identify your options.

  • 14 months: Think about attending open days and UCAS events. Visiting potential universities helps you plan your choices.

  • 12 months: One-year academic courses are available for mature candidates. Consider enrolling now.

  • 10 months: Prepare your UCAS application, develop your personal statement and seek out appropriate referees.

  • 8 months: If your application is accepted you’re invited to selection events and interviews. This can be a busy time meeting admissions tutors and other candidates.

  • 6 months: Should any universities have made offers, this is the time for you to make your decisions. Picking your first choice and reserve university can be challenging.

  • 2 months: The results of your exams are published and universities confirm your offers. If you didn’t quite make the grade for your first choice, seek other universities.

  • 0 months: If all has gone to plan, it’s time to go to university; your career starts here!

What's involved in a nursing career?

When applying to nursing school, you’re expected to done some research about the field. The term “nursing” is used liberally by the public and the media as a collective way of describing the many disciplines of the profession, but you need to be more specific.

To improve your chances of success, you need to demonstrate which field of nursing you’re interested in, what the field entails, and what you have to offer. As a good candidate you can:

  • Explain your chosen field. What’s special about the field; how does it differ from the other fields of nursing?

  • Identify similarities. Although your chosen field is very distinct from other forms of nursing, what do they have in common? What are the general principles underpinning nursing?

  • Show what you have to offer. What drew you to particular aspects of the role, and what do you have to offer nursing? Make clear what qualities and abilities you can bring to this nursing field.

  • Your future in nursing. Nursing isn’t just a job but a career. While you don’t need to fully understand career opportunities, do realize how nursing relates to health care in the U.K. and have some appreciation of how you want your career to develop.

Choosing the right university for your nursing study

With more than 68 universities to choose from in the U.K., finding the right one for you can be quite a challenge. Do your research to ensure success and a happy education. Before you decide, attend open days and read the university prospectus. Consider the following:

  • Location. Do you want to stay close to home or are you happy to move further afield? Is the accommodation suitable for you?

  • Atmosphere. Does the campus feel welcoming, and how do the lecturing staff and team engage with you?

  • Clinical environment. What learning opportunities are on offer? Are there any interesting placements? How far are you expected to travel to placements?

  • Program structure. How is the course put together, and does it feel right for your way of learning?

  • Others’ experiences. Check out student surveys to find out what’s good and what’s not about the university you’re considering.

Perfecting your personal statement for your application

Being the ideal nursing candidate isn’t all about being the best academic student. The admissions tutors are looking for candidates who also demonstrate a high level of personal and professional aptitude towards nursing.

To increase your chances of success, ensure you sell yourself in your personal statement. Here are a few tips:

  • Have a balanced introduction. Set the scene for your statement but steer away from quotes and references to childhood aspirations.

  • Explain your application. Identify which field of nursing you have chosen and why you think it’s right for you.

  • Demonstrate motivation and commitment. Illustrate what you’ve done to prepare for nursing, such as gaining care or work experience.

  • Sell your abilities. Explain what you have to offer your chosen field and say how you can match your abilities against your choice.

  • Personal qualities. Explain other life experiences that make you a sound candidate for the nursing role.

  • Clear conclusion. Offer a summary of your dedication to nursing and some insight into your nursing aspirations.

Doing your best at assessments and interviews

All candidates who show potential on their application form undertake some face-to-face assessments before being offered a place at university. It’s crucial to score well at these assessments to increase your chances of receiving an offer. Assessments differ between universities but here are some general tips to help your preparations:

  • Know what to expect. Research each of your chosen university assessment strategies. Information is available to you beforehand and often the university websites give more details.

  • Revise. Don’t assume you know everything. Revisit your numeracy and literacy skills.

  • Practice. Interviews are stressful and you can forget things when you’re put on the spot. Gain some interview experience to understand what it’s really like.

  • Behavior. You may be judged on how you engage with other candidates and admission staff just as much as you are in the assessments and interviews. Brush up on your people skills.

  • First impressions. They really do count! Be good, look good, do good!

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book author:

Andrew Evered, RN, MSc (Econ), PGCE is a Lead Admissions Tutor and Senior Lecturer for Adult Nursing at the College of Human and Health Sciences, Swansea University, and he has extensive experience working with both undergraduate and postgraduate levels.

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