Career Guide: How to become a Registered General Nurse (RGN)

Career Guide: How to become a Registered General Nurse (RGN)

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Being a Registered General Nurse (RGN) can be a challenging and fulfilling career – one that can be a route into many specialist areas, such as a clinical, research, educational or management role. In fact, nursing can be a very diverse career. While you will, of course, find plenty of nursing jobs in hospitals, nurses also work in a variety of environments where there is a need for healthcare, such as GP surgeries, clinics, residential homes, schools or even the military.

If you’re considering working in healthcare or nursing, here are some career tips to get you started:

Nursing course qualifications

To become a RGN, at the very least, you’ll need a Diploma of Higher Education in nursing, but most registered general nurses today have a degree. In fact, many newly qualified nurses go on to do their Masters the year after they complete their degree. These nurses tend to progress quicker becoming unit managers or clinical specialists.

Typically, 5 GCSEs and 2 A-levels are required to be accepted onto an accredited nursing course. To find which universities offer courses in nursing, visit the NHS Careers Website. When you apply you’ll need to decide which branch of nursing you’re going into: adult, child, mental health or learning disabilities. Midwifery requires a different type of educational route.

A full time nursing course requires a minimum of three years. Part-time study can take five to six years to complete. Those who already have a health-related degree may be able to undertake a two-year Accelerated Programme. Check UCAS for details here. Typically, half of your degree will be spent in clinical practice working shifts as part of a team. When it comes to employability, 94% of nurses get a job within six months of finishing their course.

Final steps to working as a Registered General Nurse

When you qualify, to become a registered nurse, you need to apply to the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC). However, even if successful, your study doesn’t end there. Nurses are expected to update their skills throughout their working life in what’s known as Continued Professional Development (CPD).

Jobs in nursing exist in both the private and public sectors. The NHS welcomes applications from all ages and backgrounds and, in the past offered bursaries to help pay for tuition fees, but this support was scrapped for new entrants in early 2018. However, the NHS will train inexperienced staff up as healthcare assistants. Many of these go on to train to be fully qualified nurses. If you’re wondering if a career in nursing is right for you, this might be a good way to get a feel for nursing work. Alternatively, you could try working in a voluntary capacity with a charity organisation, such as St John’s Ambulance.

As for salaries, the healthcare sector has always been associated with low pay, but there is now a government commitment to increase wages by 6.5% over the next three years. Private sector wages tend to be higher than for those working in the NHS where wages vary depending on pay scale and where you work.

Nursing can be a difficult and emotionally draining career, but can also be very rewarding for those with the right mind-set for the work.

Ready to begin planning your career in nursing? Start with a job search on Zoek.

Remember, you can also search, swipe and apply for jobs on the go on our Zoek App - Free to download on iOS and Android. 

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