Nursing entry requirements (with specialisations)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 24 September 2022 | Published 30 November 2021

Updated 24 September 2022

Published 30 November 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

A career in nursing provides a sense of purpose and fulfilment, working directly with the patients who benefit from your care. There are several different specialities in nursing, but each of them begins with a degree in nursing at an accredited university. If you want to start your journey towards a nursing career, knowing the university entry requirements for nursing before you apply can help give you an advantage. In this article, we discuss nursing entry requirements, prerequisite courses and other skills to help you be successful.

What are the nursing entry requirements?

Nurses assist physicians and patients, often as the patient's first interaction with their healthcare team, so it's understandable that there are certain nursing entry requirements you fulfil if you decide to pursue this career path. You take vitals, discuss symptoms and assist physicians or specialists with various procedures or methods involved in a patient's plan of care. You may work in hospitals to monitor patients on each step of their individualised care plans or in specialised medical offices to assist various healthcare professionals with their specialisation.

Regardless of whether you work in hospitals or alongside fully staffed medical teams, you earn nursing degrees that focus on a patient's well-being and recovery. Nurses are empathetic to the needs of their patients and resourceful for their team and physicians. You may also choose specialisations in learning disabilities, mental health and several other disciplines that allow you to provide the highest quality of care for a patient's needs. You take courses that focus on sciences, such as chemistry, biology, physiology and psychology.

Related: How to become a nurse

UCAS entry requirements

A nursing degree requires an average of 112 UCAS points to begin the degree plan. The minimum required UCAS points is 96 and the maximum is 144, depending on the programme you wish to pursue. Universities that accept them may only require applicants with a foundation year to have 72 UCAS points to begin a nursing degree.

A-Levels entry requirements

Universities applicants applying on the basis of the prospective student's A-Levels generally require an average score of BBC. The minimum required A-Levels score is CCC and the maximum is AAA. Universities accepting applicants with a foundation year may only require an A-Levels score of DDD.

BTEC level 3 national extended diploma entry requirements

To get into a nursing degree program off of BTEC level 3 extended diplomas, universities require an average grade of DMM. The minimum required BTEC level 3 extended diploma grade is MMM and the maximum is DDD. For foundation year applicants, universities may only require a minimum grade of MPP-MMP.

International baccalaureate entry requirements

A nursing degree requires an average international baccalaureate (IB) score of 30 for students to begin the degree plan. The minimum IB score is 26 and the maximum is 36, depending on the university. Universities that accept them may only require applicants with a foundation year to have an IB score of 24 to begin the programme.

What subjects are required for a nursing degree?

Individuals who apply with their A-Levels focus on sciences such as chemistry, biology, health, psychology, social care or physics. The subjects of critical thinking and general studies don't generally contribute towards your entry requirement scores. Individuals who apply with their BTEC level 3 extended diploma grades focus on sciences. Otherwise, universities may require scores from their A-Levels in addition to their BTEC level 3 extended diploma grades.

Universities may also require maths, English, and three other GCSEs at grade C/4 or higher. The primary goal here is to ensure that nursing applicants have the ability to interpret and calculate basic mathematical data and the communications and literacy skills to effectively communicate with patients, physicians and other medical staff. Universities may also require a personal statement that centres on health care and any relevant work experience. Remember that any administrative or assistant functions may also demonstrate skills useful in the daily functions of a nurse.

Related: Nursing skills: definitions and examples

Nursing specialisations

Nurses choose a specialisation they would like to pursue throughout their degree. Each type of nurse cares for patients and provides support for the healthcare team within their medical field. Their daily duties may vary depending on the demands of the medical field and associated care teams. The various fields of study deliver course material through lectures, assignments and exams along with practical assignments in a hospital or one of many clinics where the prospective nurse practices hands-on skills like inserting IVs and syringes or cleaning and treating various wounds and physical ailments.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council recognises fields of study, specialisations and degree programmes. They maintain standardised standards of care for the medical professionals associated with them and they hold a registry of certified nurses and midwives. If you'd like to specialise in more than one field of study, a dual field specialisation allows you to study two different specialisations at once and register in both fields. Some examples of nursing specialisations include:

Registered nurse

Registered nurses evaluate patients through physical exams and reviewing their medical history and communicate with the rest of the health care team to create a personalised plan of care. They may assist physicians with procedures or treatments and organise the schedules and responsibilities of the other nursing staff. Registered nurses can work alongside a number of other specialisations and medical fields.

Related: What can you do with a nursing degree?

Adult nurse

Adult nurses care for patients of advanced age, primarily in a hospital or hospice setting. They regularly check on patients in rounds, ensuring the safety of patients and administering medicine, providing treatment according to the patient's plan of care and evaluating patients to identify health care needs or further create or amend their care plan. They spend time with their patients, building trusting relationships and often treating short-term and long-term physical conditions, such as cancer, dementia or arthritis.

Paediatric nurse

Paediatric nurses care for youth from newborns to adolescents. They focus much of their attention on child development to provide for any needs that may arise, whether they're regular processes that in some way affect an existing condition or specific needs of developmental disorders. Paediatric nurses have strong communication skills to help them better communicate with children in terms they can easily understand and also to provide support for the family members of their patient. They may work with mental health nurses or learning and disability nurses to provide attention and treatment for the child's plan of care.

Related: How much does a paediatric nurse make? (with duties)

Mental health nurse

Mental health nurses focus on the mental health of their patients, often assisting the physicians who provide prescriptions for medications and the mental health professionals who provide behavioural and cognitive therapy techniques. Nurses in this field may discuss medical and personal history with their patients to discover factors that may affect the patient's diagnosis. They may assist patients of all ages, evaluating behaviours and assisting patients through the administration of their prescription medication or the patient's family by offering support and resources for further assistance. They build trusting relationships with their patients to provide the best care possible.

Learning and disability nurse

Learning and disability nurses care for patients who struggle with physical disabilities or cognitive and learning disabilities. They provide specialised treatments and care designed to offer a deeper sense of stability, support or fulfilment in the patient's life. They work with their patients to identify barriers that may prevent independence and provide strategies or resources that can reduce or remove those barriers. They may also work with other specialisations to provide a treatment plan to adequately address all physical and mental needs of their patients.

Nutrition nurse

Nutrition nurses focus on the dietary needs of their patients and may work with any number of conditions dependant upon nutrition, such as diabetes, cardiovascular conditions and even certain cancers. They may also work in a hospital setting or provide individual consultations for different care plans or work with athletes to offer suggestions for peak performance. They focus on all aspects of nutrition to ensure wellness according to the demands of individualised care plans, including creating and implementing detailed meal plans.

Related: How to become a nutritionist

Public health nurse

Public health nurses focus on the health of a large group instead of individual patients. They research wellness and awareness of a community to create campaigns to improve the health of the community as a whole. They may work with immunisation programmes and prevention policies to prevent the spread of disease or analyse common diagnoses in a given area to provide education and support for that specific illness.

Quality Coordinator

Quality coordinators work with a patient's plan of care to involve the appropriate specialisations. They coordinate efforts between various nursing teams to develop a well-rounded plan of care that addresses all needs of their patient. They monitor progress and analyse the patient's response to various treatments to redesign care plans.

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