When studying to be a nurse or midwife

Good health, fitness to practise and guidance

Good health

Good health is necessary to practise as a nurse or midwife. Good health means that you must be capable of safe and effective practice without supervision. It does not mean the absence of any disability or health condition. Many people with disabilities and health conditions are able to practise with or without adjustments to support them.

If you have a disability or a health condition, or have pending charges, a conviction or a caution it will not necessarily prevent you from entering an education programme, from registering as a nurse or midwife, or from continuing your career as a nurse or midwife. However, you may need to seek advice about whether you can be adequately supported to provide safe and effective practice without direct supervision.

If you declare a health condition or disability you should be assessed, where appropriate, with support from the occupational health department, a disability services team, adviser or other medical practitioner. Any assessment relating to disability should focus on what reasonable adjustments can be made to support you to enter and remain on our register.

Your personal tutor would be a useful person for you to tell about your health condition or disability. They will be able to help you in getting the necessary support you may need both in the academic environment and when learning in a practice placement.

While having an illness will not prevent you from registering as a nurse or midwife on the NMC register, it is up to the occupational health department and you employer to perform a risk analysis and put any special measures in place if needed.

As a student, you are responsible for informing your approved education institution (AEI) immediately if you develop a health condition or disability that may affect your ability to practise safely and effectively. This is so that your fitness to remain on the programme can be reassessed. You will be required to declare your good health annually during the course of your programme.

Fitness to practise panels

Since 2009 all programme providers have been required to have a local fitness to practise panel to consider health or character issues, and to make sure that public protection is maintained.

Referral to local fitness to practise panels should only be used if a student’s health or disability is likely to compromise or has compromised their ability to meet the required competencies and practise safely without direct supervision.

If a student develops a health condition or disability whilst on the programme the support and advice outlined in the previous sections should be applied.

If during your pre-registration programme you receive pending charges or a conviction or caution that may impact on your good character, you must notify the AEI immediately.

If you have a lengthy break in your programme your good health and good character should be assessed on your return. You should declare any changes to good health and good character to enable the programme provider to consider whether there is a need for further assessment and support.

If necessary a local fitness to practise panel will meet to make a decision about your suitability to remain on the programme. This would apply if your attitude or behaviour is such that it is calls into question your good character.

Further information

Good health and good character: Guidance for approved education institutions [PDF]

Where we have referred to programme providers we are referring to both approved education institutions (AEIs) and their partnering practice learning providers

Funding and financial support

The NHS provides funding for students who are UK residents to cover their tuition fees.

To find out if your course is funded by the NHS, please contact the relevant education institution.

The NHS also provides bursaries to eligible students to help with living costs. For more information, and to see if you qualify, see NHS Business Services Authority.

Council tax

Once you are on a course, you may also be eligible for a discount on your council tax – contact your local council to find out more.