Nurse view for her work

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REGARDLESS of the recession, about 18,000 new nurses are still needed every year.

And with the opportunity to study part or full-time, nursing is the perfect career for people at any age, whether leaving school or searching for a new career after redundancy.

“Nothing beats coming home knowing you’ve made a difference to someone’s life,” says Rachel Hughes, who spent five years juggling two young children and training to get her dream job.

Rachel, 34, is now a community staff nurse in Gloucester.

Each morning she picks up her case load and will typically visit eight patients in their own home, a clinic or nursing home.

“Community nursing is a world away from hospital nursing,” she says.

“Observing and listening to patients at home can help you pick up relevant issues.”

Despite growing up in Worcester dreaming of becoming a nurse, when Rachel left school without many qualifications she had a series of jobs, ranging from work in a care home to supermarket and cleaning roles. “I was pregnant with my second child and working at a call centre when I heard an Access to Nursing course was starting. I couldn’t pass such an opportunity up.”

In September 2003, 10 days after giving birth, she started the A-level equivalent course.

“During that time my marriage broke up, which added pressure, but I knew what I wanted so I kept going,” she says.

By 2008, Rachel had completed her nursing diploma and faced the world as a qualified nurse.

“My first year was on a cancer ward. I quickly learned to manage my workload, focus on care and think on my feet.”

She later moved to orthopaedic outpatients, then the community nursing role, and adds: “If you want to be a nurse I’d say you’ve got to give it a go: get experience so you’re realistic about what to expect, and don’t be put off by taking a degree.”

WAYS INTO NURSING

You can specialise in adult, paediatrics, mental health or learning disability nursing.

You might start with an NVQ or Access to Nursing course before progressing on to the nursing diploma or degree.

Diplomas are being phased out. From September 2013, all new nurses will need a degree.

Visit www.nhscareers.nhs.uk/nursing to find out more.

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