How to Become a Nurse in South Africa


Nursing is one of the most prestigious professions in the world and there are several reasons why it is regarded as such. If you have a desire to save lives then you might as well want to know how to become a nurse in South Africa. This way you can save many lives.

There are several types of nurses in South Africa, we will discuss a few of them in this post. Regardless of what kind of nurse you decide to work as there are certain criteria that must be met before you can be certified.

In this post, we will consider how to become a nurse in South Africa. We will also discuss a few other key pieces of information that will be of help to you.

how to become a nurse in south africa

Who is a Nurse?

There are several ways one can answer this question. A nurse is a health professional who has a license and can practice as an independent entity or under supervision. When they are supervised, they work under surgeons, physicians, dentists, or some other qualified practitioner.

Their major responsibility is to promote and maintain health. But considering what nurses really do, you must know that this definition scarcely captures all their responsibilities. They are the superheroes that we see every day in our health system.

Responsibilities of a Nurse in South Africa

Nurses have so many responsibilities which include but are not restricted to:

  • Observation and recording of patients’ behavior.
  • Working with physicians and other practitioners to create customized plans as well as evaluate them.
  • Work with physicians to diagnose diseases and devise required measures for recovery.
  • Maintain patients’ medical reports and histories as well as monitor their conditions to watch for improvement.
  • Change medication administered to patients based on their responses.
  • Adhering to the rules, protocols, norms, and regulations of the profession at all times.
  • Conducting research to improve the profession.
  • Assisting surgeons in the theatre.
  • Providing patients and their families with education on diseases and how best to manage them.
  • Resolving problems faced by patients using a multifaceted team strategy.

How to Become a Nurse in South Africa

There are several requirements that must be met by an individual before that fellow can be recognized as a nurse by the South African Nursing Council. The Council has a large number of institutions that provide training and certificates for nurses in Ghana. While some of these institutions offer degrees, others offer diplomas.

Regardless of which institution you attend, you are required to satisfy the following academic requirements to be certified as a nurse.

  1. The minimum requirement for admission into a college to study nursing is a matriculation certificate.
  2. A matriculation exemption is required for admission into any of the universities to study nursing. Different universities require you to excel in certain courses such as mathematics, biology, or physical science. It is advised that you make contact with the school of your choice to find out the specific requirements.

Generally, the university system in South Africa provides basic undergraduate training in nursing which runs for four years on a full-time basis. The four major nursing career fields focused on include:

  1. General nursing (hospital care and private practice)
  2. Community nursing (primary healthcare, prevention of disease within a community)
  3. Psychiatric nursing (care for mentally challenged patients)
  4. Midwifery (care for mothers and babies)

During the four years of study, clinical nurses gain experience by working in hospitals and other health facilities. The universities also provide post-basic certifications which include Masters’, Doctorate, Diplomas, etc.

If you do not have access to a university, you can still attend a college of nursing to get you to your goal of becoming a nurse. There are several public and private owned colleges of nursing in South Africa. These colleges offer:

  1. Four-year diplomas which lead to your registration as a nurse (general, community, psychiatric, or midwifery).
  2. Two-year bridging course.
  3. Single-year courses.
  4. Post-basic diplomas.

As a student of nursing, you are expected to study a couple of courses which are seen as fundamental to the profession. They include anatomy, behavioral science, midwifery, physiology, nursing, community, and psychiatric nursing.

Types of Nurses in South Africa

Asides the different nursing career fields in South Africa, there are different types of nurses recognized in the country. The types of nurses are defined by qualification and the responsibilities which they bear. Let’s take a look at the three types of nurses in South Africa.

  1. Registered Nurses: They are also referred to as nursing sisters. They have the responsibility of overseeing the activities of enrolled auxiliary nurses and enrolled nurses in the country. They also carry out regular nursing functions as mentioned above.
  2. Enrolled Nurses: Their job is confined to limited nursing care, nothing more.
  3. Enrolled Auxiliary Nurses: These nurses perform basic nursing functions. They also provide general care for patients.

The nursing sector has been recognized by the South African Nursing Council as one of the fastest growing sectors in South Africa. Employment of registered nurses, for example, has increased by about 35% in the last ten years. Just in case you are wondering how much opportunity there is in the sector, here’s some good news. As a nurse in South Africa, you’ll always find a job. Nurses are the highest number of people employed in the medical circle in the country. You can earn between R12,500 and R25,000 every month as well, not bad right?

Are You Cut Out for Nursing?

Let’s not deceive ourselves that the nursing job is a bed of roses – no such bed exists. Though the job is very interesting, it has its own fair share of challenges. One of such is that it is time-demanding, you’ll be sacrificing a lot of your time to care for others.

You’ll also be working under lots of pressure and spending more than half of your day on your feet. This means that you must have what it takes to work as a nurse else you’ll be frustrated and lose interest in the job. Here are a few qualities you should have to be a nurse:

  1. A desire to help others and make a difference while doing so.
  2. Responsibility
  3. Resourceful and dependable.
  4. Ability to work efficiently under pressure.
  5. Interest in the medical field.


If you have any of the attributes mentioned above then you may well have found a career path. All you need to do is follow the outline we have provided on how to become a nurse in South Africa. Good luck!!!

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