How Many Years Do You Study For Nursing?

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Nursing is one of the most significant careers in the world today, especially since the global pandemic. In addition to this, nurses have a broad and far-reaching role and the main purpose is to provide passionate and quality healthcare service to their patients.

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These medical professionals work in different sections of healthcare settings such as emergency services, surgeries and frail homes. 

Is nursing a good career?

Yes nursing is a good career choice. Nurses have the responsibility of making a difference in the lives of others by providing an invaluable service to all those who are ill, vulnerable or in dire need of health care support.  They keep the health sector functional and are at the forefront of change in healthcare and public health.

How to become a nurse in South Africa?

If you are passionate about helping and caring for the lives of people, you need to have a thorough understanding of the requirements and training needed to become a certified nurse. In order to become a certified nurse, students first need to obtain a formal qualification. 

Once completing the degree, students need to register with the South African Nursing Council (SANC) which is a national board that governs and maintains the standards of nursing education and practice in South Africa. The SANC approves all the courses of institutions and will not register any student without a formal qualification from an institution that is not recognised. For more information students can visit 

How many years to study nursing in South Africa?

Are you wondering how many years to study nursing in South Africa/ This is dependent on the level of qualification that you choose to complete. Here are a list of programs that are available to student that want to pursue a career in nursing:

Higher certificate in auxiliary nursing

Students completing this course will learn all the basics of care-giving. Once completing this 1 year course, you will work alongside a registered nurse that has completed their degree or diploma qualification. 

Diploma in nursing

This qualification takes 3 years to be completed and students will be equipped to work as an enrolled nurse or staffing nurse. The only difference between completing a diploma versus a bachelor's degree is the duration and less detailed information is provided to students. 

Bachelor's degree in nursing

This is a 4 year qualification and with this university degree, students will be able to work as a midwife, general, community or psychiatric nurse. Upon completing your degree in nursing, you will be formally equipped with all the theoretical and practical skills of nursing. 

Post-graduate advanced diploma in nursing

Students that have completed their diploma/ degree will be required to complete a postgraduate programme if you want to pursue a career in nursing management. In order to qualify for this program, students must complete a bachelor’s degree or diploma in nursing. Students are also required to have at least 2 years of working experience as a midwife or nurse. 

Nursing duties

  • Recording patients medical histories 
  • Administering medication prescribed by doctors 
  • Observing patients and recording their progress 
  • Performing various medical tests to help analyse results 
  • Consulting with doctors and pharmacists 
  • Providing support to patients by educating them on how to manage their illness/injuries 

How Long Does It Take To Study Nursing?

Kelsey Harper a Professional Nurse and Midwife beautifully says, “At the tender age of 17 is when I decided on my nursing career after job shadowing a Professional Nurse for my grade 11 school project. I was intrigued and appreciative of what this person was doing in her community that I could see myself being someone that impacts, uplifts and makes a difference within my community and being a daughter of someone who also worked in the healthcare system I’ve always been interested in health care so it seemed as a perfect fit for me to match my interest with our healthcare system and community involvement.

I was accepted at UWC and started my five year nursing degree straight out of high school at the age of 18 which involved a lot of hard work and dedication. 

In 2018 I completed my degree and graduated Summa Cum Laude which was an amazing achievement and showed how dedicated and passionate I was about my chosen career. Every degree comes with its own difficulties but it is your passion for what you have chosen that will carry you.

After I graduated I completed my compulsory community service year which is needed in order to be fully qualified and registered as a professional nurse. I did my service within the broader community of the Eastern Cape which was for one year. When my service was completed in February 2020 I returned home to Cape Town in the midst of what was about to be a global pandemic and nurses were about to carry a tremendous weight. 

When lockdown began I was unemployed seeking work which was a very difficult time for me as I knew I had just been fully qualified and ready to work. However as a nurse I was unable to offer my services as many things were put on hold due to lockdown regulations.

After two months there was an extreme need for nursing staff and I was finally able to be employed and join the fight. It was scary knowing I was about to put my life and my family’s in danger but I knew I had to give this my all and make my contribution as this is what being a nurse is all about, being there for someone else when they are unable to take care of themselves. I worked directly with covid-19 patients carrying out treatments and providing support. It was difficult dealing with staff shortages, lack of ppe, long hours, and patient influx but the feeling of knowing you are making a difference and helping your community is what carried me through.

After I became ill with the virus my first thoughts were to let my family be safe and let me recover quickly so I can get back to my duties. We were fortunate to have pulled through and continued the fight. Whatever you decide to do make sure it is something you will enjoy 5 to 50 years from now, nothing is easy, no job is without risks. Be passionate about what you do and you will always be successful.”

For all those students interested in nursing, it is important to figure out what area of nursing you want to pursue. This will provide you with the guidance you need when deciding on what qualification to complete in order to specialise in a specific medical field of nursing.

Nursing Colleges

Wondering where to study nursing? Click here for a list of institutions you can study nursing at.

One example is the Thohoyandou Nursing School.


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