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Routes into Nursing and Care

The NHS is one of the biggest employers in the world, with 1.4 million staff, while social care in the UK employs 1.6 million people.

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Published Tuesday 29 March 2022

With so much national and local attention on them, the health and care sectors are in a period of change and growth, and with an increasing number of unfilled vacancies. There is a need for more qualified and dedicated staff to fill those places. So what are the routes into Nursing or Care?

If you are a school leaver, having done your GCSEs, the usual route is to do a BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma in Health and Social Care. This is a two-year course equivalent to A Levels.

Depending on your GCSE results, you may need to do another year with us, a Level 2 Progression year, to get you up to the level where to can excel when you do the Extended Diploma.

Anyone who didn’t get a grade 4 in English or Maths at GCSE will have to retake that GCSE with us at College. If you have to retake both English and Maths GCSE you will do a Level 2 Progression year, which will enable you to retake both of them before doing the Level 3 the year after.

Some students start at Level 1, which is a course that gives a broad basic introduction to the sector with Functional Skills in English and Maths also taken to give the student a new start.

The College welcomes students who have not had success previously, and offers a fresh start in a new environment at one of the best colleges in the UK.

Both Truro and Penwith Campuses have courses at Level 1, 2 and 3 in the Health, Social Care and Childcare sectors, so no matter what grades you get from your GCSEs there is a course you can go straight into that will get you on the road to a career in Health or Care.

Courses available include: Introductory Diploma in Health and Social Care Level 1 Progression, Working with Children in Early Years and Primary Settings Level 2 Certificate, Health and Social Care Level 2 Progression, and the Health and Social Care Level 3 Extended Diploma.

A BTEC Extended Diploma in Health and Social Care is the most common course taken by students who want to go on into Nursing, Health or Care careers. Three out of four nurses have it. With it there is 100 hrs of work placement, which can lead to work opportunities. With Childcare it is 312 hrs, or 2 full days a week.

“Work experience is a great way to link theory to skills and employment opportunities,” says Vicky Wood, the department Team, Leader. “It lets students get to know the settings they like to work in and ones they don’t. The work placement opportunities on the Level 3 course are one of the best things about the course.”

T Levels are new qualifications that are alternatives to the Extended Diploma. The College does T Levels in Education and Childcare, Health, and Healthcare Science.

“I’m really passionate about T levels,” says Vicky. “Education changes, society changes. T Levels embrace that. It’s employer-led. I’m a big fan them. They were one of the reasons that I wanted to come to the College, I was excited about the new qualifications and the chance to be involved in providing them, to help produce the first students with these qualifications.”

If you are an adult and would like to work as a nurse or other job in health or medicine but don’t have the qualifications to get you there  straight away, an Access Course, usually taught over three days a week, and are an intensive way to get a Level 3 qualification (equivalent to three A Levels, an Extended Diploma or T Level).

The Truro campus has Access courses in Nursing & Human Sciences and Psychology & Social Work, Penwith has Access to Health & Social Care. Find out more about Access Courses here.

Apprenticeships are also a great choice for students at any age. On an Apprenticeships you are paid to learn, and spend four days a week in a job role, one day a week in College. Some students aged 16-19 do a College course at one level, then move to an Apprenticeship at the next level, and 80% of Apprentices go into full-time work at the end of their Apprenticeship.

The College also has higher level nursing courses, all the way up to degree level. Students can stay in Cornwall and get all the qualifications they need to become a nurse.

The most important quality you need to work in the sector is to be a caring person and have a commitment to play an important part in making other people’s lives better.

Find out more about the courses available at Truro and Penwith College here.


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