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Careers in nursing

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According to the latest Destination of Leavers from Higher Education 2016/17 (DLHE) survey, nursing is the UK’s most employable type of degree with 95% of students getting a job within six months of finishing their course (based on full-time, first degree leavers). In this article, we explore career paths you can pursue as a nurse, nursing salaries, and how we may be able to help you find paid work experience before you study.

Student nurses wearing masks and gloves, attending to a patient who is lying in a bed in a hospital ward

How to become a nurse

To become a Registered Nurse, you must successfully complete a degree-level nursing course approved by the Nursing and Midwifery Council. Entry routes to becoming a Registered Nurse are flexible. You could directly apply to university, apply for a nursing degree apprenticeship or train as a nursing associate, before going on to become a Registered Nurse later.

There are a range of nursing fields you could work in. The University of Sunderland offers the following specialist nursing courses:

The specialist courses above have an intake in April, so it's not too late to apply and start your journey to becoming a Registered Nurse.

There is so much to learn and nursing is constantly changing for the better. This course challenges you and gives you the skills that are required to become a registered professional. There are lots of exciting learning opportunities and resources available to benefit your learning, for example practical lessons in the mock hospital wards using the simulation manikins, and the placements cover different specialities."

Kieran Murray
BSc (Hons) Adult Nursing Practice

Adult Nursing

Adult nurses make up the largest part of the NHS workforce with over 176,000 working in just acute settings. In the future, more adult nursing jobs will be based in the community rather than hospitals, as more care is delivered outside of acute settings, including hospital wards, outpatient units or specialist departments, the community or nursing homes and the prison service.

Adult nurses are a key part of the multidisciplinary teams that look after patients. You will be at the centre of teams that can include physiotherapists, occupational therapists, pharmacists, radiographers and healthcare assistants. You'll also work closely with patients' families and carers.

Learning Disability Nursing

Learning disability nursing is a specialised and rewarding career, supporting individuals, their families and carers in meeting their health and wellbeing needs. Learning disabilities can affect an individual across the whole of their life course, from paediatrics to elderly care.

Learning disability nurses will enjoy an enriched and challenging career, working with multi-professional groups in areas where the client is in need such as:

  • client's homes
  • schools
  • community-based teams
  • specialist hospital care
  • liaison teams
  • crisis and intervention teams
  • forensic services including prisons
  • specialist autism services in the community
  • hospital settings

Mental Health Nursing

One in four people will suffer from a mental illness at some point in their lives. Mental health nurses are the largest professional group providing care in a variety of settings. Mental health nurses work in a range of complex and rewarding roles such as crisis teams, street triage, community mental health teams, psychological therapies and specialist treatment teams.

Children's and Young People's Nursing

Children's nurses are responsive to the needs of children, young people and their families and deliver care within a variety of settings, including hospitals, health centres, children’s centres, GP practices and the family home.

They are key members of the multi-disciplinary team involved in the delivery of care to children and young people with healthcare needs.

There are 52,286 Children's Nurses on the NMC register (March 2020) all of whom are involved in a rewarding and challenging career. Every day they make a difference to the lives of children and young people in need of healthcare.


Upon qualifying, nurses start on NHS Band 5 (£24,907) and have the opportunity for career progression to more advanced roles such as an Approved Clinician which can attract Band 8 salaries (£45,753 to £87,754) according to the NHS Agenda for Change Pay Rates. At the top of the scale are staff in Band 9, with a salary of up to £91,004. Team managers and department heads are often placed in this exclusive band.

Read more about nursing at the University of Sunderland and find the right nursing course for you.

Published: 12 March 2021

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