Step into nursing

There are over 60,000 nursing professionals working in Scotland, each one delivering invaluable care to patients around the country. Two nurses explain why you should consider a dynamic career in nursing. 

International Nurses Day is on 12 May, celebrating the vital work of nurses around the world. A career that is varied and fast-paced, no two days as a nurse are the same, and if you have the motivation and enthusiasm, you could find yourself on the ward in no time.

Nurses provide essential care to people, either in a hospital setting, in a patient’s home or within the community. Though the job can bring challenges, it’s a highly rewarding profession, and one that will always mean you can help others


Rachel Dunne is a third year Adult Nursing student at Robert Gordon University (RGU), who had always wanted to pursue a career in the field.

Rachel Dunne

“I’ve always wanted to be a nurse, as I enjoy helping and caring for people,” Rachel enthuses. “I knew it would be a challenging course and career, but the fact that I have the opportunity to help people, and that every day is different, was appealing.”

Whilst studying at RGU, Rachel has had the opportunity to not only learn and gain support from lecturers and tutors, but has furthered her knowledge of the realities of nursing by getting practical work experience while on placement.

“I’m currently on placement in accident and emergency (A&E),” continues Rachel. “It’s exciting and I’m finding it easier now to link studies from university to patients’ signs and symptoms. The nurses I’m working with are very supportive in allowing me do as much as I feel capable to do and they support me well. Most importantly, they understand what it’s like being a student.”

At RGU, the Adult Nursing course is designed to provide students with the skills, knowledge and experience to become a successful nurse when they graduate, providing person-centred care to patients.

Though the academic side of the course is crucial to ensure a successful placement, it’s the practical experience that provides invaluable insight into the profession. The variety of opportunities available at RGU ensures there’s something everyone will enjoy.

“The studying and practical experience go hand in hand,” Rachel explains. “This is to make sure patients and students are kept safe. But watching and learning something on paper can be quite different to carrying out the skill in a real life situation.”

Studying to become a nurse requires lots of dedication and motivation, but the hard work is worthwhile once you graduate.

“Just do it,” urges Rachel. “The course has flown by. It’s full of ups and downs, but definitely worth it. It’s a fantastic career that offers so many different opportunities. The real highlight of the course is knowing that within the next few months I’ll be fully qualified and working as a nurse.”


Krzysztof Gmerek graduated as a registered nurse at the end of 2019, and was immediately thrown in at the deep end, working as a staff nurse on an acute ward with NHS Grampian.

“It was quite scary at the beginning and it still can be,” says Krzysztof. “Nursing is the kind of profession where you learn every day, but I feel more settled now. I always have someone to ask questions and I don’t feel I’m on my own.”

Going from the supported environment of university to the fast-paced ward can seem daunting at first, but help is available to ensure you ace the move from study to professional working life.

“NHS Grampian is really helpful and I feel well-supported,” Krzysztof enthuses. “Nursing is a challenging career but it’s also very rewarding, especially when you see that what you do or say makes a difference, and makes your patients feel better and happy. No two days are the same, but there’s always the opportunity to learn something new, and to see things from a different perspective.”

Though every day as a nurse is different, many of the skills required to be a successful nurse remain the same.

“You have to be really good at communicating, and have the ability to actively listen to your patients,” advises Krzysztof. “You have to treat people with dignity and respect, considering patients’ values and preferences. Sometimes the small changes can make a big difference and make a huge improvement.”


Before applying for a place at university or college to study nursing, it’s a good idea to gain some work experience, to ensure you’re well-prepared for the intensity of the course and life as a nurse. Before his studies, Krzysztof gained experience working in a care home, before attending college, and eventually university.

“It’s really beneficial to work in healthcare or a hospital environment before you decide to start your training,” he recommends. “This makes sure you know what to expect when you enter the world of work.”

To arrange work experience, you can contact your local NHS board, to learn more about the exciting career. Above all else, though, to make it as a nurse, there’s one trait that will ensure no matter what the job throws at you, you’re bound to make a success of it.

“Most importantly, you just have to have a caring nature,” says Krzysztof. “It’s the type of profession where you need to give something more, and not just view it as your job. You need to have a true passion for nursing.”

Find out about how you can launch your career in nursing at NHS Grampian and Robert Gordon University.

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