Skip to main content

Is Access to HE Nursing a good alternative to become a nurse?

Nurses laughing

There are many ways in which you can become a nurse, from A Levels to an Access to HE course. This blog will talk you through the different ways you can enter the nursing industry.

What qualifications do I need to be a nurse?

Most people qualify to be a nurse by studying a nursing degree, as they offer plenty of practical hands-on experience with patients in community settings as well as hospitals. It’s not simply just about the theory.

The first thing you need to do is to decide which field of nursing you wish to enter, with there being four main fields. Those are:

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

Each of these fields gives you the opportunity to make a real difference to people’s lives every single day. There are some degrees out there called ‘dual field degrees’ which allow you to study in two of those fields.

Over 80 universities offer nursing degrees in the United Kingdom, with the University of Edinburgh being the highest-ranked university to offer a nursing degree according to the Complete University Guide’s 2022 Nursing league table. Also in Edinburgh, Queen Margaret University is ranked first for student satisfaction.

Other universities in the top 10 include:

  • University of Glasgow
  • Cardiff University
  • University of Manchester
  • University of Surrey
  • University of Sheffield

Entry requirements differ between universities as each one sets its own criteria. You will, however, likely need at least two (usually three) A Levels or equivalent qualifications at Level 3. You will also need supporting GCSEs with English, Maths, and a Science (usually Biology or Human Biology). For most degrees, the UCAS points needed varies from 96 to 144.

For those without the relevant qualifications, some universities offer a foundation year, allowing them to then study for a degree once completed. To study a foundation year, you need to have at least 72 UCAS points.

There are alternatives to A Levels, though, with those being:

  • Access to Nursing course
  • Pearson BTEC Level 3 Diploma
  • Scottish Highers/Advanced Highers
  • OCR Cambridge Technicals
  • International Baccalaureate (IB)

You could also complete a nursing degree apprenticeship, which gives you the opportunity to earn the qualifications whilst earning a real wage at the same time. To do this, you will need at least two A Levels (or equivalent BTEC), with one of those being in a science or health-related field, and a minimum of GCSEs in English and Maths grade C or higher.

Once qualified with either a degree or an apprenticeship, you will be able to work as a nurse anywhere in the UK and even internationally.

Access to Nursing course

One alternative to studying A Levels to get yourself into university is the Access to HE Nursing course, where you’ll study a range of healthcare-related subjects that will ease you into your degree.

It is a two-year course and in the first year, you will explore the subject of human biology and various factors that affect human health. Meanwhile, in the second year, you will explore more about psychology, the fundamental principles of values-based healthcare, and how you can promote the health of your patients.

The Access to HE Health course is equivalent to three A Levels to gain you the equivalent amount of UCAS points needed to support your university application.

How much do nurses earn?

How much nurses earn will depend on what band they are in, as well as the amount of experience they have. Here is what nurses can earn per year:

  • Band 1 – £20,270
  • Band 2 – £20,270 (0-2 years experience) | £21,318 (2+ years experience)
  • Band 3 – £21, 730 (0-2 years experience) | £23,177 (2+ years experience)
  • Band 4 – £23,949 (0-3 years experience) | £26,282 (3+ years experience)
  • Band 5 – £27,055 (0-2 years experience | £29,180 (2-4 years experience) | £32, 934 (4+ years experience)
  • Band 6 – £33,706 (0-2 years experience) | £35,572 (2-5 years experience) | £40,588 (5+ years experience)
  • Band 7 – £41,659 (0-2 years experience) | £43,806 (2-5 years experience) | £47,672 (5+ years experience)
  • Band 8a – £48,526 (0-5 years experience) | £54,619 (5+ years experience)
  • Band 8b – £56,164 (0-5 years experience) | £65,262 (5+ years experience)
  • Band 8c – £67,064 (0-5 years experience) | £77,274 (5+ years experience)
  • Band 8d – £79,592 (0-5 years experience) | £91,787 (5+ years experience)
  • Band 9 – £95,135 (0-5 years experience) | £109,475 (5+ years experience)

Types of nurses

There are plenty of types of nurses that you can be, depending on what you want to do. They are:

Mental health nurse

A mental health nurse will be to help people live independent and fulfilling lives by promoting and supporting their recovery.

Learning disabilities nurse

By working alongside a multidisciplinary team, a learning disability nurse will support and help patients of all ages.

Adult nurse

An adult nurse will assess patients who suffer from both long or short-term physical health conditions and plan their care to nurse them back to health.

Children’s nurse

From newborns to adolescents, a children’s nurse will work with children of all ages. They will provide treatment and care to them, as well as providing support to their parents or carers.

Nursing associate

A nursing associate is a new role within a nursing team. They get the chance to work across the four fields of nursing, using it as a stepping-stone in becoming a registered nurse.

District nurses

A district nurse will work in people’s homes and in residential care homes, providing complex care for patients and support for family members.

General practice nurse

A general practice nurse will work in GP surgeries and is involved in most aspects of patient care. That can be from taking blood samples to wound management.

Health visitor

A health visitor will give pre-school-age children the best possible start in life by working with their families.

Neonatal nurse

When a newborn baby is born premature or sick, a neonatal nurse will care for them, helping them with problems such as respiratory difficulties or nutritional needs.

Prison nurse

A prison nurse will provide similar care to GP nurses, as well as giving support to people with mental health and substance misuse problems.

School nurse

Working with school-age students, a school nurse will promote healthy lifestyles as well as preventing illness.

Theatre nurse

Finally, a theatre nurse will work with patients of all ages in each phase of their operation.

Find out more about Open Study College’s Access to Higher Education Diploma: Health Professions.

Related courses