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:

  • Biology
  • English
  • Maths

Work placement 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.


Foundation Apprenticeships

A Foundation Apprenticeship could give you the skills, knowledge and work experience to become a nursing support worker.

Find out more about a Foundation Apprenticeship in Social Service and Healthcare

Modern Apprenticeships

Begin or continue your journey towards becoming a nursing support worker by completing a Modern Apprenticeship.

Learn 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.

The role

Working closely with the nursing team, you’ll monitor each patient’s health and wellbeing by observing them and updating their records. You will 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

Top skills

You’ll need these skills:

  • caring
  • communication
  • listening
  • motivation
  • problem-solving
  • relationship-building

Who you’ll work with

You could work with:

  • nurses
  • carers
  • doctors

Working environment

You could work in:

  • hospitals
  • clinics
  • GP practices
  • in people’s homes

Useful information

To work as a nursing support worker in NHSScotland, you’ll need to:

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 will work through the Mandatory Induction Standards. These standards are designed to help you work safely and must be completed within 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 very helpful if you decide you want to go to university to study 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.