Home Student & Career Tips How to Become a Nurse In South Africa

How to Become a Nurse In South Africa

Like Medicine and Law, Nursing is considered as one of the most significant professions in the world today. No health care sector can function without this those in this  field. They ensure that individuals, families and communities achieve optimal health by improving their quality of life. Because of this, Nursing is an incredibly fulfilling and rewarding career. The profession is more of a passionate service than a career. Thus, you will easily fit into the profession if you love to make a difference in the lives of others.

Salary Structure of Nurses

So, do you have passion and derive joy in caring for the sick but still contemplating on the career path to follow? If  “yes” then you should consider studying Nursing.

However, before you decide to choose a career in this field, you need to understanding as Aya what nurses in South Africa are required to complete in terms of training. An understanding of these requirements and nursing courses are essential to achieve your dream profession.

There are three main types of nurses in South Africa:

  • Registered Nurses or Nursing Sisters: They are responsible for the supervision of enrolled and enrolled auxiliary nurses as well as typical nursing responsibilities.
  • Enrolled Nurses: They perform limited nursing care.
  • Enrolled Nursing Auxiliaries: They perform basic procedures and care for patients on a general level.

According to the South African Nursing Council Statistics, the nursing industry in South Africa is growing rapidly and they are highly sort after in the country. In the last 10 years, there has been a 35% increase in registered nurses across all three categories. This means that jobs are readily available for Nurses in South Africa.

If by any means you don’t love the idea of working in a hospital, do not panic, there are other options. As a nurse, you can work in schools, universities, out-patient clinics and pharmacies, nursing homes, government institutions, research labs and lots more.

How Then Can One become a Nurse in South Africa?

To become a certified nurse, you have to go through two steps:

  • You must get a qualification from an accredited school. Private Nursing colleges in South Africa and public institutions provide the same degrees and diplomas. To complete your qualification, simply pick a school that suits your needs.
  • You must then register with the South African Nursing Council (SANC).

Qualifications  Needed To Become A Nurse

To qualify as a nurse, you can do one of the following:

1. A four-year bachelor degree in nursing (BCur– Bachelor of Nursing Science, Education & Administration)

The bachelor’s degree in Nursing is generally a four-year-long course that is offered by most public universities in South Africa including UCT, Wits, Stellies (only postgrad), UWC, NWU, UKZN, UNISA, etc. The degree consists of both a compulsory practical clinical training and a theoretical component.

In the practical component you will learn how to do the kind of practical work you will need to be able to do when you become a nurse. In the theoretical component, you will learn the theory of what it is to be a nurse and you will study medical, biological and natural sciences, psychological and social sciences, and pharmacology so that you have the knowledge you need to be a competent and successful healthcare professional

Entry Requirements: To apply for the four years Bachelor’s degree in Nursing, it is recommended that you take Mathematics, Physical Sciences and Life Sciences, but this is not compulsory in all institutions. You will need a National Senior Certificate (NSC) or equivalent qualification at exit level 4, with the following:

  • English (50-59%)
  • First additional or home language (50-59%)
  • Life Sciences (50-59%)
  • Maths Literacy (50-59%)
  • Life Orientation (50-59%)

The BCur usually prepares students to work in four specific fields:

  • General nursing (working in hospitals and medical practices)
  • community Nursing
  • Psychiatric nursing
  • Midwifery (caring for mothers and babies)

Once you have completed a BCur (or equivalent), you are able to register as a professional nurse and midwife with the SANC.

2. A Three-year Diploma In Nursing

The diploma in nursing qualification can be found in Vaal University of Technology, Durban University of Technology, CPUT, TUT and other universities of technology. This course takes a duration of three years to be completed and also consists of practical and theoretical work. During this course, you will cover similar work to what you would cover in the BCur degree. You will go less in-depth with the work as the course is shorter. You will learn how to provide nursing care, apply your knowledge in the nursing practice, diagnose and treat minor illnesses and provide reproductive health care.

After you have completed this qualification you are able to work as a registered staff nurse or enrolled nurse.

Entry Requirements: To qualify to for this qualification, you will need a National Senior Certificate (NSC) or equivalent qualification at exit level 3 or 4, depending on the institution. However, it is not important that you have taken mathematics and/or physical sciences as it is for the BCur but you will definitely need the following:

  • English (50-59%)
  • First additional or home language (50-59%)
  • Four other subjects (50-59%)
  • Life Orientation (50-59%)
3. A One-Year Higher Certificate In Auxiliary Nursing

This is a one-year qualification that is aimed to equip you with the skills that you will need to provide basic nursing care to individuals. Upon the completion of the program you will be working under a registered nurse who has completed his/her degree or diploma qualification.

After completing your higher certificate you will be able to register as an enrolled nursing auxiliary.

Entry Requirements To qualify to study this course, you will need a National Senior Certificate (NSC) or equivalent qualification at exit level 3 or 4, depending on the institution. This course is aimed to strengthen and enhance your knowledge in Nursing and midwifery. During this course, you will specialize as a nurse or midwife. This course is also only one year long and can only be completed after you have received a diploma or degree in nursing. Unlike the other courses, this course is mostly theoretical. This qualification will also be helpful if you wish to pursue a career in Nursing management. This is the postgraduate course an individual who has a diploma in nursing, will have to complete in order to work as a Nursing sister in South African Hospitals.

It is not as important that you have taken mathematics, physical sciences or life sciences as it is for the BCur. However, you will need the following:

  • English (50-59%)
  • First additional or home language (50-59%)
  • Four other subjects (50-59%)
  • Life Orientation (50-59%)

This course will teach you how to apply your knowledge of the theory, the practice of basic nursing and how to assess, plan, implement and evaluate basic nursing care for individuals and groups.

4. One-year Postgraduate Advanced Diploma In Nursing And Midwifery As An Addition To Your Degree Or Diploma.

 After completing your diploma and degree, you will be required to go for an advanced degree programme if you desire a career in Nursing management. To apply for this advanced diploma programme, you must have had a bachelor’s degree or diploma in nursing. Also, you need atleast two years of experience as a midwife or Nurse.

You can choose to complete your qualification at a public tertiary institution or at a private Nursing college. These private colleges, such as Mediclinic, Netcare Education or Life College, offer the same diplomas or degrees as the universities and universities of technology.

Entry Requirements: In order to enroll for this program, the following are required:

  • Bachelor in Nursing Sciences (or equivalent) or a degree and comprehensive diploma
  • Diplomas in nursing and midwifery
  • Advanced diploma in midwifery, staff nurse and
  • Advanced diploma

What Colleges Offer Nursing In South Africa?

The South African Nursing Council (SANC) is in charge of approving the courses and institutions in the country. That should be your first stop if you want to find out about nursing colleges in South Africa application forms.

The SANC will not register any student with a qualification from an institution that is not recognised. Therefore, you must ensure that you’re enrolling into a school that is approved and accredited by the South African Nursing Council

Below are some Nursing colleges in South Africa

  • Andries Vosloo Hospital;
  • Tygerberg Academic Hospital;
  • Worcester Nursing School;
  • Lilitha College of Nursing;
  • Rahima Moosa Campus;
  • Ga-Rankuwa Nursing College;
  • S G Lourens Nursing College;
  • SAMHS Nursing College;
  • St Lucy’s Hospital;
  • Dr Malizo Mpehle Memorial Hospital;
  • Moses Kotane Nursing School;
  • Taung Community Hospital;
  • Thusong Hospital Nursing School.

Having knowing the qualifications required for one to become a Nurse, there are important skills a person who desires to become a Nurse is expected to possess in order to fit into the profession.

Top 7 List of Nursing Skills

  1. Cultural Awareness: Recognizing your own biases is the first step to giving culturally competent care. From there, increasing your knowledge and awareness through educational opportunities can help you further develop this skill. This is important as it will give you the room to better understand a patient in order to give a complete, patient-centered care. Different cultural beliefs and values influence a patient’s view of health, wellness, care, acceptance of and adherence to treatment, and more. Understanding, respecting and accommodating your patients’ preferences and needs with regards to their individual beliefs, customs and practices should be part of both your planning and delivery of nursing care.
  2. Professionalism: Outside of your external appearance, remember that everything you say and do reflects your ethical principles and moral values. Nurses should always exhibit professionalism in front of patients as well as with colleagues. Professionalism is a nursing skill encompassing many areas: respect, attitude, integrity, responsibility, and discipline to name a few. Tackling your work with a sense of professionalism reflects your dedication to the profession.
  3. Attention To Detail: Being attentive to details not only ensures that you’ll avoid a medical mistake, but it also helps you to give great patient care. It will also help you to focus on active listening by observing non-verbal cues from your patient as well as hearing their spoken words. This helps your patient feel understood, not just heard. It also helps you tune in on his or her unspoken concerns and needs.
  4. Critical Thinking: Nurses are problem-solvers by profession. Because Nurses are faced with a long list of activities which are required to be done under a limited period of time, skills that help bring these into balance will make  life much easier. This is why critical thinking is an important skill required of a Nurse. To enhance your critical thinking abilities, identify problems and don’t be afraid to discuss them with your superiors. Also, be updated with the findings of professional journals and become involved with your facility’s quality improvement processes. These are just two ways that you can expand your critical thinking skills.
  5. Compassion: This is a very important quality of a Nurse. This is because as a Nurse you are on the front line of  dealing with patients, their families, and barriers in the healthcare system. Maintaining compassion is essential to providing good care.
  6. Time Management: This is a very vital skill for every Nurse as there are a lot of tasks to be carried out. Remember, good time management involves people management! Prioritize your work. Stay organized with personal checklists and multi-task whenever possible. Utilize your nursing skills of anticipation, delegation, and supervision.
  7. Communication: Nurses are the direct link between patients and doctors and must communicate effectively with other healthcare personnel to coordinate patient care. How you communicate information is very important. The same holds true for patient communication.  Be calm, measured, professional, and reassuring when dealing with patients and their families. Use visual or written communication aids if they’re available and be cognizant of and open to exploring reasons for ineffective communication.  Lastly, remember that not everyone communicates in the same way. Take the time to get to know your patients and their families to develop communication strategies that are the most effective and efficient for each of them.


Nursing, like all other careers, has satisfying and demanding aspects. You get to spend your days helping others and working with people, and there is a lot of challenges in the work, but if you enjoy working with other people, have a strong desire to help others and make a difference, consider yourself sympathetic, responsible and resourceful, work well under pressure and have an interest in the medical sciences, then Nursing is definitely a career choice that you should consider.

It takes a special kind of person to be a nurse. Though there are different types of Nurses existing in South Africa, becoming a Nurse is  not an impossible thing. Just keep in mind that the type of Nurse to wish to become is dependent on the type of degree or diploma that you want to apply for.

This article has carefully pointed out the numerous steps and qualifications required in order to become a Nurse in South Africa. One of the vital Nursing requirements is the SANC registration, which you can do once you get your desired qualification. From there, you can begin to enjoy your fulfilling Nursing profession or choose to get a master’s degree. This will further advance your profession as you will become a clinical Nurse specialist or an advanced nurse practitioner.

Good luck in your quest to become a South African Nurse.

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