Nursing support worker
Nursing support workers work closely with registered nurses to care for sick or injured people of all ages. There are over 15,000 nursing support staff working with NHSScotland. They are vital in providing care and treatment to people as part of the wider nursing team.
Starting your career
Choosing subjects at school
To become a nursing support worker, you need a good standard of education. There are no entry requirements, but useful subjects include:
Work placements and volunteering
You may find it helpful to get some experience of working in healthcare by doing a work placement. There may also be opportunities to volunteer. This could help you when applying to university, college or a new job with NHSScotland.
A Foundation Apprenticeship could give you the skills, knowledge and work experience you need to start your career journey as a nursing support worker.
Find out more about the Foundation Apprenticeship in Social Services and Healthcare.
Begin or continue learning the skills, knowledge and work experience you need to become a nursing support worker with a Modern Apprenticeship.
Learn more about the Modern Apprenticeship in Healthcare Support.
All Healthcare Support modern apprentices study the three mandatory units of communication, health and safety, and learning development. For nursing support worker, you will then choose your remaining units from the clinical pathway options.
Working closely with the nursing team, you’ll monitor each patient’s health and wellbeing by observing them and updating their records. You'll communicate with other healthcare professionals, patient’s families and carers to provide a high level of care that reflects what matters to them as individuals.
What you’ll do
Your main tasks include:
- monitoring a patient’s health
- updating patient records
- helping patient’s wash, shower or dress
- serve food to patients or help them to eat
- keep supplies and equipment in order
You’ll need these skills:
- motivating people
Who you’ll work with
You could work with:
You could work in:
- GP practices
- in people’s homes
To work as a nursing support worker in NHSScotland, you’ll need to:
- complete occupational health checks
- join Disclosure Scotland's Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) scheme
Did you know?
In 2019, we celebrated 100 years of professional nursing with the anniversary of the Nurses Registration Act 1919.
Learning and development
When joining the NHS, you'll work through the Mandatory Induction Standards. These standards are designed to help you work safely and must be completed in the first 3 to 6 months of employment. They will also support you in your first steps as a new healthcare support worker.
Your development will be reviewed every year with your manager. This is through the Personal Development Planning cycle.
Getting experience as a healthcare support worker can be useful if you decide you want to go to university to become a registered nurse.
Existing staff can complete an HNC Healthcare Practice to gain entry onto the degree route.
The Open University route is available to healthcare support workers who want to become registered nurses. No formal qualifications are required, but you must remain employed in your existing post while studying.
Find out about nursing and healthcare practice courses on the Open University website.
Learn more about becoming a healthcare support worker from NHS Education for Scotland's Healthcare Support Worker Careers Guidance leaflet.