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Can any retired nurses out there answer this query?

(43 Posts)
Anja Sun 13-Oct-19 11:22:16

I’ve just started writing another book and despite searching on line I cannot get a definitive answer to this...

My main character is a nurse who started her training aged 20 in about 1970. For reasons that are too complicated to go into I need to know what minimum entry qualifications she would have needed for the SRN course in those days. In the UK.

I’m hoping that there are some on this forum that can help because I’m going cross-eyed trying to wade through various NHS histories and not getting anywhere.

I know I find it irritating when reading a book and there are factual inaccuracies.

LondonGranny Sun 13-Oct-19 11:26:15

Not a nurse but I have a clear memory of five O levels. SEN had a lesser requirement. What don't you ask the Royal College of Nursing? They definitely have archives.

Izabella Sun 13-Oct-19 12:32:44

Five 'O' levels was the minimum requirement. It was expected ~English and mathematics were two with a preference for a science subject. e.g. biology.

ElaineI Sun 13-Oct-19 13:41:15

I had to have 4 Highers - including English and a science and O grade arithmetic. That was for Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh 1974. That was for the School of Nursing and they had higher entry requirements than other hospitals. It was not a degree and not at uni but a 3 year course in the hospital training school with a further year as a staff nurse to obtain your Pelican badge (hospital badge) which I still have. Most of the course was on the wards with placements also at Royal Edinburgh (psychiatric hospital), Simpson Memorial Maternity Hospital and the Royal Hospital for Sick Children interspersed with periods of classroom tuition. Qualification was Registered General Nurse. The wards all had Sisters and there were also Matrons. No longer called these terms. there was a doctor's residency on site for doctors on call where there were often parties!

ElaineI Sun 13-Oct-19 13:44:32

It was a bit different in England and Wales so maybe someone who trained in those countries could help. Healthcare in Scotland is separate from rest of UK.

MiniMoon Sun 13-Oct-19 13:45:31

I didn't have O Levels. I was accepted for training as a RMN (registered mental nurse) on the strength of my interview and a written test.
Apparently my score on the test was one of the highest they'd ever had.
I don't know if the same applied for SRN training though.
This was in 1978.

MiniMoon Sun 13-Oct-19 13:48:40

I should have said that I left school without qualifications and went straight into employment. I was 26 when I started my training.

Jaffacake2 Sun 13-Oct-19 13:49:39

Hi I trained as SRN in 1974 and it was definitely 5 olevels. Think you could train as an SEN state enrolled nurse on CSE qualifications.

trisher Sun 13-Oct-19 13:52:31

I suggest you look at this website there are two copies of booklets for nurses and the training in different areas. It is possible that some places required higher qualifications than others. Certainly some hospitals were seen as'posher' and more desirable.

suzette1613 Sun 13-Oct-19 13:54:43

ElaineI, I trained at the old RIE as well (just before you did). Happy memories!
Didn`t stay for my pelican though.
Rumour had it that you could buy secondhand ones down the Grassmarket!

Callistemon Sun 13-Oct-19 13:55:54

One of my nieces did SRN training in the early 1980s, probably 1982. She had 'A' levels but I don't think they were necessary although I think that five good 'O' levels were.

Previous to that I remember some friends doing a two year course at Technical College which was a pre-nursing course before commencing the SRN course. That would have been in the mid 1960s.

EllanVannin Sun 13-Oct-19 14:09:56

So far as I can remember back in 1955 at 15 and a cadet nurse I worked on the wards and attended college too. As an SEN I remember anatomy and physiology to be a top subject as well as doing well at English and it took me 2 years to qualify, unlike the University degrees that are expected today.

I began purely from a practical level as everything was hands on as you were taught by the ward sister.
Matron was all too prominent and was given updates on how you were progressing.
I can't believe that at 16 years of age I was given a young patient to aspirate, that is extracting material that had entered the lungs to avoid causing infection to the lungs.

What I learned as a teenager was phenomenal. We were purely for the patient, their welfare and care with no distractions such as computers and reams of paperwork. So different to todays nursing and training.

I'd have to sit another exam to reach the skills of our nurses today.

pattieb Sun 13-Oct-19 14:14:16

I stared my SRN training in 1970 after working for two years as a cadet nurse at a different hospital. I had no O levels. I sat an entrance exam and had a short interview with 2 people. I think one was Matron.
Then we all had a medical.

hulahoop Sun 13-Oct-19 14:17:47

I was 20yrs old had no qualifications I took a written test consisting of maths and English and there were time limits on both . I also had an interview with the matron who told me I had passed and when I could start .

Lazigirl Sun 13-Oct-19 14:25:54

I trained as an SRN 1966 to 1969.

Most schools of nursing entry requirements were 5 O Levels but if not, a nationally recognised entrance exam and interview.

Many SRN students didn't have 5 O Levels.

There was a lower level of nurse training SEN, which did not require academic qualifications, and had a shorter 2 year training course.

This training was often taken up by immigrant nurses, many from the Caribbean at my training school.

Nannarose Sun 13-Oct-19 15:35:09

As I am that person Anja, I can answer definitively, and agree with Lazigirl!
The basic minimum for State Registered Nurse training was 5 'O'levels (or equivalent Scottish Highers). There were a few ways round this:
The General Nursing Council (as it was then) held 'open exams' for those who didn't have the correct qualifications. My s-i-l got in this way.
Hospitals who took on cadet nurses at 16 would train them to sit this exam - one of the nurses who influenced me to become a nurse took this route.
Most hospitals accepted this, but a few major ones didn't.
Another way around was to do the State Enrolled Nursing course mentioned by Lazigirl. It was a 2 year course, and you could then apply to do a 2 year 'conversion' to SRN. I knew quite a lot who did this, but some, from abroad, felt cheated because they ended up not being accepted on to the conversion course.

Although it is not what you asked, the late 60s were the beginning of change in the profession - the Briggs report had recommended that nursing become a graduate profession. I think the first 'Nursing Degree' was offered by Manchester in 1968 (but would stand corrected). A number of 'top' hospitals were offering joint courses - a degree in a related subject + SRN training.
As some of us remember, 'grammar school girls' were sometimes discouraged from becoming nurses (a waste of your education)and these new courses were an attempt to bring them in.
And it's definitely not what you asked, but I have never regretted becoming a nurse instead of going and doing a degree (in what? for what?) and I can tell you that I have never been able to tell from the quality of nursing whether someone was a 'minimum entry' or graduate.
I have had the honour to work alongside excellent nurses from all sorts of backgrounds (and OK, a few duds, but that had nothing to do with their entry qualifications either!)
Of course, I smile now, knowing that when I retired I was working at a 'postgraduate degree' level!

geekesse Sun 13-Oct-19 15:39:55

When I applied in 1978 it was five O levels including English and maths. I was rejected by two schools of nursing for being over qualified because I had A levels.

Anja Sun 13-Oct-19 15:48:36

Thank you all very much. That is most useful. It seems there is a consensus on the 5 ‘O’ levels but other ways in were possible. I’ll also look at your link trisher 👍🏽

ElaineI Sun 13-Oct-19 18:33:56

Suzette it was March 74 I started. There was a Suzette in my class from Jamaica I think. I loved my training there and have often recounted funny tales to my family about things I did and got pulled up on! Do you remember the cat that pounced on your feet as you went from the dining room to the Red Home?

suzette1613 Sun 13-Oct-19 19:27:21

ElaineI, sometimes times as a student nurse there were so archaic, no one would put up with all that now!
Well remember the Red Home (not the cat though). We all tried to wrap ourselves in our capes and sleep there on our breaks on nights. Then you`d get back to the ward and there would be six admissions! `Four empty beds and we`re waiting` still strikes dread in my heart!
I stayed in the Quartermile hotel complex there a couple of years ago. Spooky being on the footprint of the old RIE.

harrigran Sun 13-Oct-19 20:04:30

I started my training in 1964, I completed a pre-nursing course at college and needed a minimum of three GCEs, one had to be English and I also needed to pass Anatomy and Physiology I also sat Biology and food technology with dietetics.
We had a very good matron who made her decisions at interview, she could spot potential nurses.

GabriellaG54 Sun 13-Oct-19 23:25:42

I started my training aged 17.9 in Autumn 1963.
I had no qualifications.
We spent 8 weeks at a training school (living in) and 1 day a week at the hospital we were allocated, before sitting exams.
After passing with the required marks we were then living in our respective hospitals for the next 12 months before being allowed to 'live out' for the next 2 years (or 3 if you were doing children's nursing)

GabriellaG54 Sun 13-Oct-19 23:30:55

Maybe I was accepted because I was a Grammar School girl, although I left before sitting 'O' levels.

LondonGranny Sun 13-Oct-19 23:38:19

One thing I do know about overseas nurses that came during the Post-War reconstruction period was that their overseas qualifications were not accepted as valid or equal. Considering most of those nurses were from Commonwealth countries with education systems set up by the British as equal to British education, I thought that was a cheap trick.
The NHS, especially during is first 25 years really relied on those nurses (and still does). Funnily enough this was less so with white Commonwealth personnel eg Kiwis. A good friend who trained as an SEN nurse in the 1970s said she was appalled by how her better qualified non-white colleagues were treated.

pinkquartz Sun 13-Oct-19 23:39:27

I have not been a nurse and also do not know the answer to the OP
I have to say though the idea of you as a nurse is utterly terrifying grin

I found nurses back in the day before Uni training were much more down to earth. I have seen some shockers in later years. They think they are above the messes that come with sick bodies in hospital !