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Jan 2023
Career of the Month

Key Facts

Starter Salary
Experienced Salary
Working Hours
37-42 hours per week


Adult nurses work with sick and injured people or with people who have physical disabilities in a variety of settings including hospitals and the community. They are part of a team of health professionals who support individuals and their families. Nurses assess, plan, implement and evaluate the care needed for individual patients and keep a record of their progress. They also use counselling, managing and teaching skills when working with patients to help them to improve the quality of their lives. In their daily routine, they check temperatures, take blood pressure, clean and dress wounds, give drugs and injections and use a range of equipment. It is possible to develop in a specific area of health work and career progression can lead to further training as a nurse practitioner. Nurses are caring, compassionate and empathetic; they are organised and have the ability to set people at their ease.

What it takes

Key skills required:

  • sensitivity and understanding
  • the ability to work well with others
  • a desire to help people
  • knowledge of psychology
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • customer service skills
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • thinking and reasoning skills
  • the ability to understand people’s reactions
  • knowledge of medicine and dentistry
  • counselling skills including active listening and a non-judgemental approach
  • leadership skills
  • the ability to work well with your hands
  • concentration skills
  • a good memory


  • pass enhanced background checks

Day to day

In this role you will:

  • take temperatures, blood pressures and pulse rates
  • help doctors with physical examinations
  • give drugs and injections
  • clean and dress wounds
  • set up drips and blood transfusions
  • use medical equipment
  • monitor patients' progress
  • update patient records and handover information to colleagues at the end of a shift
  • work with doctors and other healthcare professionals to decide what care to give
  • give advice to patients and their relatives

You could work in an NHS or private hospital, at a health centre, at a hospice, at an adult care home, at a client's home or in a prison.

You may need to wear a uniform.

Your working environment may be physically and emotionally demanding.


You will need

  • An A-level (or equivalent) in maths, physics or biology
  • An A-level (or equivalent) in chemistry
  • A GCSE (4+/A*-C) (or equivalent) in English
  • A GCSE (4+/A*-C) (or equivalent) in maths
  • GCSEs (4+/A*-C) (or equivalent) in at least 2 science subjects (or double science)
  • A GCSE (4+/A*-C) (or equivalent) in chemistry (or double science)
  • A degree in biochemistry and biotechnology

Academic and Vocational Notes

Although it is possible to start as a technician and work your way up, most people enter a career in biochemistry by taking a degree in biochemistry, biotechnology or medical biochemistry, or another relevant subject. When researching courses, always check course content and specific entry requirements with individual universities.

Sandwich courses are available and any work experience is useful when it comes to applying for vacancies.

Some people specialise in biochemistry at postgraduate level having first taken a broader-based first degree. For research positions, employers often look for postgraduate training.

Work Based Training Notes

There are graduate training programmes run by industry; these may combine on-the-job training with part-time postgraduate study. Training in the health service for graduates can be through the NHS Scientist Training Programme.

With the necessary experience, qualifications and competencies, you can work towards Registered or Chartered Scientist status.

Other Routes

Whilst these are the usual routes to this career, there can be alternatives. You will be able to discuss these with your adviser.

To learn more about getting into a career in Nursing, take a look at our article - Career Focus of the Month: Nursing

Some data provided by NCS. May contain public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.

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