Transitioning from a student to a newly-qualified band 5 nurse

08 February 2022 By Lorraine Gray

​You’ve finished your studies and you’re ready to join the simultaneously wonderful, demanding and rewarding world of healthcare – congratulations! We know many of our newly-qualified nurses (NQNs) have questions about the banding system and what it means to transition from a student to being a band 5 nurse, that’s why we’ve put together the Medical Staffing guide to progressing as a band 5 nurse with useful tips for our newly-qualified nurses!

What is a band 5 nurse?

As of 2004, the NHS devised a pay scale system that matches a nurse’s skills, abilities, and years of experience. Band 5 nurse is the band a newly-qualified registered nurse will enter the banding system.

Typically, you’ll enter as a band 5 nurse in a hospital setting and progress through the bands as your knowledge increases from working on the ward. Wards tend to have a training and progression structure in place to help you learn more and work towards becoming a band 6 nurse. Taking those opportunities which present themselves will be vital to increasing your knowledge accordingly and finding an area you enjoy and may want to specialise in. However, hospital wards are not the only way to enter into and progress through the bands in nursing.

10 Tips for newly-qualified band 5 nurses:

We know the prospect of joining the healthcare workforce can seem like a daunting prospect, but we promise it’s worth it! For the first year or so you may go home after your shifts and wonder if you did the right thing, missed anything or generally worry about your patients. But you’ll soon gain confidence in your ability and knowledge, and this will pass.

We’ve prepped some tips for NQNs that will help you gain confidence in yourself quickly, and ease the transition into working as a band 5 nurse:

Tip 1: Don’t be afraid to ask questions

There are going to be points where you need confirmation on something, ask someone who you trust and ensure you know exactly what you need to know before proceeding.

Tip 2: Don’t worry about feeling worried!

It’s inevitable, there will be times when you question yourself and your choices and the feeling may follow you around for a day or two. Try to accept this feeling and don’t let it get in the way of trusting yourself – worry is there for a reason, to make sure we provide the best care possible for people who need it most, but it shouldn’t hinder you from making decisions.

Tip 3: Try to be early to your shifts

There’s an old adage that if you’re not early, you’re late, and that can be the case for nursing shifts. When your shift starts that’s when you’re expected to start your rounds, there’s no 10 minute grace period to put your stuff in your locker before starting, so try to arrive 10-15 minutes early so you have time before your shift starts.

Tip 4: Make notes on everything

From documenting your Continuous Professional Development (CPD) to providing evidence should a mistake or complaint be raised, making notes on all of your decisions and actions will stand you in good stead.

Tip 5: Accept your mistakes and learn from them

Mistakes happen, that’s the unfortunate truth. What’s important is to not dwell on them and punish yourself for them, see them as a learning opportunity and a way for you to improve your knowledge and coping skills.

Tip 6: Find a way to relax when you’re not working

Switching off when you’re away from work can be challenging for an NQN, but it’s important that you find time to relax and recharge so you can continue to care for your patients effectively.

Tip 7: Try to learn from your colleagues

Your colleagues have years of experience for you to draw on and use to improve your own methods and practices.

Tip 8: If you fall behind, don’t rush your tasks

It can be challenging to not rush when you fall behind in your duties, but rushing will in all likelihood lead to mistakes which can set you back even further if you have to redo them.

Tip 9: Defend your patients if you believe something is in their best interest

You spend a lot of time with your patients and may understand their symptoms better than a superior, defend your position if you truly believe it’s in your patients’ best interest.

Tip 10: Believe in yourself!

You’re going to be your own biggest resource over the next few years, be confident in your knowledge and that you’re learning and improving all the time.


When it comes to looking for your next nursing opportunity, we've got you covered. We can ensure you are always able to provide the best care possible by sourcing short and long-term assignments, out of ours, or back-to-back roles.

We offer full diary management and get to know you, your skills, and your long-term career goals so we can find assignments to suit you. Our specialist consultants are always on hand to help you with on-boarding and compliance support.

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