How to Become a Nurse: Resources to Help You Get Started

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Nurses work alongside other medical professionals to provide patients with quality healthcare. Read on to explore a variety of nursing careers and learn how to join the field today.

[Featured Image]:  A female nurse, wearing a blue uniform, and head covering, is standing outside a building with white walls.

Nurses provide patient care, support physicians, and help treat and prevent medical ailments. These professionals are in demand, and this trend will likely continue in the foreseeable future.

The NHS reports an 11.8 percent rise in registered nurse vacancies between 2021 and 2022, increasing from 38,814 to 46,828 [1]. Nursing Times projects that the demand for nurses will continue to increase in the coming years due to the UK’s aging population and greater complex health conditions [2]. 

These figures demonstrate the positive job outlook for the nursing profession. But, the path you take to join this high-demand healthcare profession will depend mainly on your own goals. 

This article will help you explore nursing professions and learn what you need to do to become a nurse and how to prepare for the job search. 

Familiarise yourself with the healthcare field.

Healthcare is an expanding field. In fact, according to The Health Foundation, 488,000 additional healthcare workers will be needed in the industry by 2031, which is the equivalent of a 40 percent increase in the workforce [3]. If you’re considering a career as a nurse, take some time to acquaint yourself with healthcare. 

Explore nursing careers

Nursing is not simply one profession. There are several different nursing careers, and each requires different training. Before you jump into a nursing program, you should consider what type of nurse you might want to become. 

The four main fields of nursing are:

  • Adult nursing

  • Children’s nursing

  • Learning and disability nursing

  • Mental health nursing

Join a nursing program to get qualified.

Nurses are highly trained medical professionals who use their expertise to support physicians and provide quality patient care. Most qualify by obtaining a university degree in one of the four fields of nursing. If you’re interested in more than one field, consider a nursing program offering a dual-field degree, allowing you to study two fields. 

Consider alternative paths to nursing.

There are two paths to a nursing career that do not require you to be a full-time student in a university program. The Registered Nurse Degree Apprenticeship (RNDA) allows you to study for a degree in adult or mental health nursing while earning an income working alongside experienced professionals.

Becoming a nursing associate who works with registered nurses in health and social care is another way to gain experience outside of the university setting. Nursing associates often have the opportunity to train to become registered nurses.

When applying for jobs, you want to put your best foot forward. Before applying for nurse positions, you should ensure your CV is as polished as possible. Crafting a great cover letter tailored to each position and organisation you apply for can help illustrate how your skills and experience are a good match for the role. 

Ace the interview.

Job interviews allow you to expand your skills, discuss previous work experience, and highlight your professional accomplishments. Before you start interviewing, though, you can set aside time to prepare. A good impression during a job interview can help your chances of landing the job.

Keep expanding your skill set.

The world of healthcare is ever-changing. Whether you have a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree, or even a doctorate, your education as a medical professional doesn’t end when you leave your degree program or school of nursing. In addition to having to revalidate with the Nursing and Midwifery Council every three years, you will likely have to learn new skills and techniques as the field changes. 

Consider taking an online course or degree program to keep your skills current. Coursera offers 5,000 online courses, Professional Certificates, and degrees from world-class universities and companies. The Integrative Nursing Specialisation, for example, teaches a patient-centred, relationship-based approach to nursing that utilises a variety of integrative healing modalities.

Article sources


NHS. “NHS vacancy statistics England April 2015-June 2022 Experimental Statistics,” Accessed May 30, 2024.

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