From Carer to Nurse: a route into Nursing

From Carer to Nurse: a route into Nursing

A role in social care is rewarding, and the good news is that you’ll develop many skills that allow for different career paths. For care assistants, there are many possible ways to progress. One choice is to look into nursing. In this guide, we look at the possibilities of becoming a nurse and how to go about it.

We’ll also address the similarities and differences between carer and nursing roles. Finally, we’ll look at the opportunities to progress in your career and outline the steps to becoming a nurse, if you decide that is the pathway you want to take.

Table of Content

What Does a Carer Do?

As a care assistant, you can work in a variety of settings, whether that be in a care home, a supported living service or in someone’s own home. The duties vary depending on the location but often revolve around providing amazing care and support. 

The role involves spending a lot of time with residents or people you support, and it also includes liaising with various healthcare professionals. Daily tasks might include assisting people with dressing, eating, drinking and moving, or getting out and about to the shops or activities.

What Is the Difference Between a Carer and a Nurse?

Registered nurses work alongside doctors to plan care and administer medication. While care assistants provide general support in their setting, nurses often specialise in a particular area.

The two roles require many of the same attributes, including communication skills, organisation and compassion. However, the training requirements are different. You need to have a nursing degree or an equivalent qualification to practice as a nurse. 

Let’s look at some of the various duties that are part of each role.

Care Assistant vs Nurse Duties

While the duties vary based on the healthcare setting, most care assistants:

  • help people wash and dress
  • support at mealtimes 
  • assist people when moving around
  • help with daily tasks

On the other hand, nurses have more responsibility and autonomy when fulfilling the following duties:

  • assess need
  • administer medication
  • plan care
  • provide treatment to manage short and long-term symptoms

Career Progression for Carers

As a support worker or care assistant, you’ll gain experience with care plans, understand people’s needs and enhance your skills. It puts you in an excellent position for professional development, and there’s a wide variety of routes you can take to progress.

You can consider any number of professional roles, including becoming an assistant practitioner, a lead practitioner, a nurse, a nurse associate and a care coordinator or manager. Your valuable experience means you can transfer your skills and progress with some extra training.

Becoming a Nurse

There are several actions you can take to develop from your position as a care assistant to become a nurse. All routes to a role as a nurse include training. The traditional route is to obtain a degree in nursing at a university, but if that doesn’t suit you, there are other ways, which we explore below.

Steps to Becoming a Nurse

When considering which route to choose to become a nurse, the time, costs, entry requirements and teaching methods will affect your decision. We’ve set out three options and what they involve.

Nursing Associate Training

One of the fastest ways to progress is through nursing associate training. In this role, you’ll work with healthcare assistants and nurses in various settings. The programmes run for two years and include placements in different nursing environments. While you aren’t a registered nurse, you can increase your responsibility and career prospects and get an idea of what nursing work is like. 

Nurse Apprenticeship

If you’re looking to study part-time while working and gaining experience, a nursing degree apprenticeship could be right for you. It’s advisable to complete an NVQ level 3 qualification in nursing. It equips you for the apprenticeship, shows your commitment and improves your career prospects. This route is more practical, which will suit those who learn better from real-world scenarios compared to an academic environment.

Nursing Degree

A nursing degree at a university takes three years if it’s a full-time course. You might need to complete a foundation degree if you don’t meet traditional entry requirements. More often than not, extensive experience as a healthcare assistant will put you in a good position. Keep in mind that in an academic setting, a certain level of English and maths will be required, especially as you’ll need to complete essays as well as placements. 

Nursing in Social Care 

There are fantastic opportunities available in Nursing within social care. Not all Nurses move into a healthcare or hospital setting. 

To find out more about nursing roles and recruitment, read this article about the role of nurses and nursing associates, particularly in social care.