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How to become a nursing support worker

You can become a nursing support worker through a Modern Apprenticeship or by applying for a vacancy on our recruitment website.

What is a 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 as a nursing support worker

Choosing subjects at school

To become a nursing support worker, you'll need a good standard of education. There are no specific entry requirements, but useful subjects include:

  • Biology
  • English
  • Maths

Speak to your guidance teacher about subjects offered at your school.

Work placements and volunteering

You may find it helpful to get some healthcare experience by doing a work placement or volunteering. You’ll get training, increase your knowledge, and learn new skills. This could help you when applying to university, college or a new job with NHSScotland. 

Modern Apprenticeships

A Modern Apprenticeship will help you get the knowledge, skills, and experience you need to reach your career goal.

Learn about the Modern Apprenticeship in Healthcare Support.

All Healthcare Support Modern Apprentices study 3 mandatory units:

  • communication
  • health and safety
  • learning development

You'll choose your remaining units from the clinical pathway options for nursing.

Get to know 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'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.

Tasks include: 

  • monitor a patient’s health
  • update patient records
  • help patients wash, shower or dress
  • serve food to patients or help them to eat
  • keep supplies and equipment in order

You'll need these skills:

  • caring
  • communicating
  • motivating people
  • problem-solving
  • relationship-building

Nursing support workers work with other healthcare professionals, including: 

  • nurses
  • carers
  • doctors 

You could work in: 

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

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 within 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.

Career progression

Getting experience as a healthcare support worker can be useful if you decide you want to go to university and study to become a registered nurse.

Existing staff can complete an HNC Healthcare Practice to gain entry onto the degree route.

Open University

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 courses on the Open University website.

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Help with recruitment

We'll guide you through the recruitment process, from applying online to interview preparation.

Help with recruitment