Durham University Nursing

Durham University logo

Durham University Nursing

Nurses form the largest group of staff in the NHS and are a crucial part of the healthcare team. Nurses work in every type of health setting from accident and emergency to working in patients’ homes, with people of all ages and backgrounds.

Some nurses begin their career by working their way up from support roles, which require no set qualifications, and go on to train for a registered nursing degree or diploma, which qualifies them to work as a nurse. Others apply straight to university to undertake their studies.

Some nurses begin their career by working their way up from support roles, which in some cases require no set qualifications, and go on to undertake a registered nursing degree, which qualifies them to work as a nurse. Others apply straight to university to undertake their studies.

To work as a nurse, you’ll need a degree in nursing and you must be registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).

The Work

Prospects website provides an overview of what it is like to work in the Health Care sector.

The following occupational profiles come from AGCAS and provide an idea of the type of work available. They have been written and researched by staff working within careers services across the country. They contain a lot of useful information that will help you with your initial research. These are just a sample, you can look for more on the Prospects website.

Adult Nurse
Paediatric Nurse
Mental Health Nurse
Learning Disability Nurse
Health Promotion Specialist

How to get a job

Sources of vacancies

  1. NHS Jobs: This is a really useful website because the website is free to use, there is a facility to register for job vacancy updates, it has contact details for NHS employers throughout the country and you can search and apply for vacancies online.
  2. Nursing Times: This is a really useful website because it has an easy to use job search section, it contains recruitment information for a wide range of healthcare/ nursing related jobs, opportunities are advertised for across the whole of the UK and overseas and it is operated by the Nursing Times and has links to courses/ news and research within nursing.
  3. Jobs 4 Medical: This is a really useful website because it has an easy to use job search section, it contains recruitment information for a wide range of healthcare jobs including nursing and opportunities advertised are for across the whole of the UK and overseas.However, the downside is that this site is not dedicated to nursing.

Work experience

For the latest information on gaining work experience in nursing, please visit the NHS Nursing Careers website.

Work experience is extremely important if you want to demonstrate you are a good work prospect to potential employers / course leaders. It is also a great way of seeing what it’s like working in the health service and showing your commitment to your future NHS career. Your chances of being accepted on to a nursing programme or attaining a position are greatly increased if you can demonstrate that you have relevant experience. Many NHS trusts and universities want to be certain that you really understand what a career in nursing involves before offering a job or a place on a course.

The NHS is made up of individual NHS trusts and each is responsible for arranging work experience. You’ll need to contact the NHS trust in your area directly. Ask to speak to the human resources, voluntary services or education and training departments, and they’ll be able to give you some guidance. To find out where your local NHS trusts are based to enquire about work experience opportunities, visit the NHS Website

Try to build up your experience of both the healthcare setting and the client group you will be dealing with: for example through obtaining care work. There are schemes available in some of the larger health sector organisations. Schemes include short-term, two-week supervised placements, Easter and summer vacation schemes and year-long industrial placements. Information on these schemes is usually available on company websites.

It is important to proactively identify opportunities and submit speculative applications using resources such as yell.com or nhs.uk

Graduates can look for internships on the Graduate Talent pool website. Graduates can search for internship vacancies in particular careers areas or locations, including Health Care.


Structured work experience schemes are rare, due to patient confidentiality so, if you do not have sufficient experience, you could consider relevant voluntary work or employment in a related field to build up the background you will need. Do make sure that you are getting the experience that you need, however, and don’t allow people to take advantage of you. You may find, at the very least, that you will get your expenses paid.

Try contacting your local surgery, hospital or charity shops; or volunteer at your local hospice, disability centre, care centre, youth club or elderly people’s home. Many work experience options within the sector go unadvertised. Often, organisations are happy to take on volunteers, allow individuals to work shadow or even just speak to members of staff working within the profession.

Look at the schemes available through Durham University’s Student Community Action.

Nursing in Scotland and Wales


NHS Education for Scotland is a special health board responsible for supporting NHS services in Scotland by developing and delivering education and training for those who work in NHSScotland. The website has lots of useful information on nursing and related roles in Scotland, including:

  • Vacancies
  • Education and Training: This section includes a link to education and training specifically in nursing and midwifery. In the nursing and midwifery section you can also download the NES Nursing and Midwifery Strategy for 2014-2017.


NHS Wales is the publically funded National Health Service of Wales. The Health in Wales websiteis the website of NHS Wales, and brings together information sources about the health and lifestyle of the population of Wales. Health in Wales has lots of useful information on nursing and related roles in Wales, including a news archive.

For NHS Jobs in Wales, you can use the NHS Jobs website as this site searches for jobs in England and Wales.

Relevant employers


The vast majority of graduates who go into nursing or related roles are employed within the NHS Authorities and Trusts:

  • NHS Careers Website
  • NHS Choices – Authorities and Trusts directories

Some projects are jointly run by the NHS in partnership with social services, local authority departments and/or other agencies.

Outside the NHS:

A smaller number of graduates go into work within private practices/private medical companies.

Leading employers include:

  • Large private healthcare companies, such as BUPA and AXA PPP Healthcare
  • Private hospitals – employers include Cygnet Health Care, Nuffield Health and Ramsay Health Care
  • The General Healthcare Group
  • Mental health charities, such as Mind
  • Armed forces
  • Voluntary and charitable organisations employ small numbers of nurses to work in developing countries. Médecins sans Frontières (MSF) is one of the best known.
  • Professional bodies, such as the Royal College of Nursing, recruit into a variety of roles in areas such as education, research and regulatory affairs.

Other employers:

  • independent schools (school nurses)
  • commercial organisations, such as pharmaceutical companies or publishing companies
  • industry (occupational health nurses)
  • the Crown Prosecution Service or other legal representatives (expert witnesses)
  • recruitment consultancies and nursing agencies

However, several years’ experience is usually required to do these jobs.


Finding a course

The NHS Health Careers website provides detailed information on some of the careers you can go into in the NHS. If you go into each of these sections you will discover useful information on training opportunities. For each career it will tell you about qualifications required for entry and information on training, financial support, pay scales, etc. These careers are updated on an ongoing basis by NHS Careers staff.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) website has a search facility where you can search for NMC approved programmes.

The Prospects website has a search tool for finding postgraduate courses in the UK. You can search by keyword, subject area, region and mode of study (full-time, distance learning etc.). You might find it most useful to start your search by browsing the nursing and midwifery and/or health sciences subject areas rather than typing in specific keywords.

Find A Masters is another website that you might wish to take a look at to find relevant courses.


The NHS Nursing Careers website provides details on funding and financial support. You can also find information and updates on funding via NHS Health Careers.

University course web pages usually have details of any funding available but you can also search finance options for postgraduate study via Prospects and explore their Funding Guide which is available in the Careers Centre. Also see the Postgraduate Studentship website on which you can perform subject specific searches.

Professional bodies

A professional body (could also be referred to as a professional association or society) is an organisation which seeks to further a particular profession and provides support for individuals working within that profession. Networking is an important part of developing in a career and by joining a relevant association you could meet people by taking part in campaigns or events. Many of the websites for these associations contain information on professional development and how to progress in your career, and some also offer student membership rates.