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Health and Social Care

Can a Healthcare Assistant Become a Nurse? Steps Included


Lead Academy

7 Mins Read

Can a healthcare assistant become a nurse? The answer is ‘yes.’

As a healthcare assistant, many opportunities are open for you if you are planning to move ahead in your career. The majority of healthcare assistants would prefer being a nurse when thinking of starting anew. While you mostly need to have good interpersonal skills and knowledge of the care and medical techniques to be a healthcare assistant, nursing requires proper education, experience and certification.

Read the blog thoroughly to understand how to become a nurse from a healthcare assistant.

Who is a Healthcare Assistant?

Those who provide assistance and personal care (including intensive care) to patients with the activities of daily living are Healthcare Assistants. They work in a variety of healthcare settings such as hospitals, clinics, and residential nursing care facilities and under the direct supervision of health professionals.

The duties and responsibilities of a healthcare assistant include assisting patients with daily activities such as eating, dressing, showering, checking vital signs and assisting nursing staff when necessary.

Who is a Nurse?

According to Merriam-Webster, “A nurse is a licensed health-care professional who practices independently or is supervised by a physician, surgeon, or dentist and who is skilled in promoting and maintaining health.”

Nurses are responsible for recording medical history and symptoms, monitoring patient health, administering medications and treatments and other relevant tasks. They mostly work in hospitals, physicians’ offices, home healthcare services, and nursing care facilities.

What is the Difference between a Healthcare Assistant and a Nurse?

Though both the roles have similarities, there also exist differences between a healthcare assistant and a nurse. The prime difference can be found in the responsibilities they carry out.

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Can a Healthcare Assistant Become a Nurse?

A nurse wearing her uniform and taking notes on patient’s wellbeing

The advantage of working as a healthcare assistant is that it builds the foundation for pursuing a career in the various fields of the health sector. By completing the right degree and gaining practical experience, you can definitely become a nurse from a healthcare assistant.

How to Become a Nurse from a Healthcare Assistant?

Working as a healthcare assistant can provide you with the necessary experience to progress your career as a nurse. Since both jobs are similar in nature, it becomes easier for a healthcare assistant to study nursing and understand the responsibilities.


If you search for “healthcare assistant qualifications,” you would see that there is no specific degree or training to be a healthcare assistant. However, nurses do require formal education and training. You can either get a nursing degree or complete a registered nurse degree apprenticeship (RNDA).

Nurses and doctors wearing uniform and standing in the hospital

Nursing degree

A nursing degree allows you to gain practical hands-on experience along with bookish knowledge. To enrol in the degree programme, you first need to decide which field of nursing you want to study. There are four fields of nursing approved by the Nursing & Midwifery Council, which are-

  • Adult nursing
  • Children’s nursing
  • Learning disability nursing
  • Mental health nursing

There are some other degrees as well known as dual degrees. These dual degrees allow you to study two fields at the same time.

For example, if you have already attended university and want to shift to nursing, you can join from the second year of a nursing degree. For that, you should have a degree in any one of the followings-

Completing a nursing degree typically takes three years. However, if you want to study part-time, it will take approximately five or six years to earn your degree.

For a nursing degree, entry requirements vary depending on the university. However, for most universities, you will need GCSEs at grades 9 to 4, including English, maths and science. Along with this, you will also need two or three A level qualifications at level 3.


A nurse taking notes on patient’s health at the hospital

A registered nurse degree apprenticeship (RNDA) is practical training in a job with study. Those completing an RNDA will work at a hospital or medical facility and also attend university part-time. RNDAs usually take four years to complete. However, having accreditation of prior learning and experience (APEL) in a relevant study might reduce the length of the apprenticeship to only two years.

RNDA is comparatively a flexible route as it does not require full-time attendance at university.


Once you are done with your education and training, you need to register with the Nursing & Midwifery Council, which is the professional regulator for nurses in the UK. This organisation sets the standards of practice and behaviour for nurses. To receive this certification, you need to take a competency test and an English test.
The nurses who deal with children must pass the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check. A DBS check will show unspent convictions, cautions, reprimands and final warnings by authorities.


A female nurse wearing uniform and gloves and writing on a notepad


Apart from the appropriate qualification, nurses should possess certain skills that would help them to excel in their job. In the nursing profession, “skills” are mostly about interpersonal skills. It is your empathetic and caring nature that would help you gain the trust of patients.

Some of the most essential qualities of a Nurse are-

Communication skills

Nurses need to deal with a variety of patients in a wide variety of circumstances on a daily basis. They need to tailor their speech depending on whom they are speaking to.

For example, when they are discussing a patient with fellow doctors and nurses, they need to be informative and professional. Again, when they are speaking to the patient or the patient’s family, they must be empathetic and calm to explain the complex medical processes in simpler terms.

That is why good communication skills are vital for nurses to be able to convey the correct message to the doctors, patients or acquaintances of patients.


The nursing profession is such that it throws up challenges every day that you may not be prepared for. Often, it can be very demanding on an emotional level. You need to be resilient to face and overcome challenges.


Another essential trait for nurses to portray to patients is compassion. It can be extremely stressful for a patient and their family when the patient is suffering. As a nurse, if you are compassionate, you would have an understanding of what the patient is going through and know how to deal with them. You can then provide support to both the patient and their family.


A nurse should be prepared for any sudden or unexpected situations since every day on the ward is going to be unique. As a nurse, you must adapt to various environments and be able to work under pressure.

Attention to detail

Nurses remain responsible for documenting and recording patient status, listening to their medical history and ensuring that all information is up to date. To avoid mistakes, nurses must be meticulous and pay attention to details.


The skills you develop as a healthcare assistant provide an opportunity for career development in many healthcare sectors; nursing is one of them. The blog has explained in detail the possible routes to becoming a nurse from a healthcare assistant.
If you are planning to step into the nursing career as well, read and understand the process as mentioned in the blog and work accordingly.

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