There has never been a better time to consider nursing. Although many student nurses are educated at University the U.K government has agreed not to charge full tuition fees, in addition a bursary is sometimes provided to make living easier.

The education provided for student nurses has never been more thorough or challenging.

The changing focus in our society toward community care and prevention rather than cure have all served to improve the opportunities for nurses. Yet still the image of nursing is that of the starched apron or frowning matron.

Here are just a few of the myths which persist despite evidence to the contrary:

Myth - Nursing is poorly paid.

Fact - Salaries have kept pace with the increasing responsibility being given to nurses. For example, a nurse executive director (what used to be called a matron) in a smaller hospital trust could expect a starting salary of at least £40,000. More senior grades in our profession can expect even more.

Myth - There is no room for advancement.

Fact - Nothing could be further from the truth. There are many and varied career paths in our profession, any one of which can lead to high powered and well-paid jobs which actually shape the future of nursing and health care practice.

Because of the skills nurses learn and the training system which aims to develop articulate leaders with excellent managerial and practical abilities, nurses are also highly valued in the wider business world.

Myth - You have to be female

Fact - Of 648,000 nurses registered within the UK, about 10% are male, and this is increasing.

Myth - You have to be young.

Fact - We have students in their 40’s and this is not unusual. As people become more mature they seem to seek a career which provides a feeling of self worth, real responsibility and sense of achievement. They often choose nursing.

Myth - It’s a very messy job.

Fact - It does help if you don’t faint at the sight of blood. Many nurses however work in areas where they may need to dress a wound again. Mental Health nurses for instance require skills of a very different sort from those you see on "Casualty" or "ER".

Myth - Nursing is a manual job.

Fact - Though the provision of personal care is very important a nurses skill are better employed where they are needed, that is managing the care of patients.

Community Nurses for instance are increasingly taking on roles traditionally covered by GP’s and can run their own client lists.

Myth - You become hardened to suffering.

Fact - As a professional it is vital to be able to support the family and others close to the patient. They are relying on you. In turn you can rely on your training, the knowledge you are doing your best to ease suffering and the support of others in your team.

One feature commonly mentioned about any group of health professionals is the high standard of teamwork and comradeship.

Now we have exploded some old myths, what does a nurse actually do?

As we move towards and beyond the new millennium nursing is becoming as much about communication skills and management ability, as applying bandages.

Research suggests people who understand their condition and what to expect from their treatment, get better quicker than those that are left in ignorance. The ability both to listen, and to explain a situation clearly an accurately, is a core nursing requirement.

Our definition of management is not of the paper pushing kind. Whether you are leading a nursing team, handling limited resources or developing new approaches to care, your skills will have a direct impact on patients.

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