Mental Health Nurse (Student)

Service:Surface Fleet
mental health nurse at work

The role at a glance

What you’ll do

Joining the Royal Navy as a Student Nurse means you’ll get paid to study your BSc in Mental Health Nursing as Birmingham City University, completely paid for by us. You’ll complete Initial Naval Training at HMS Raleigh before starting university in either Sept or January, depending on when you get your A-level results. You’ll train alongside other military students, which means you’ll have great academic and personal support for the duration of your training.

Once qualified, you’d work in one of our Department of Community Mental Health centres in Plymouth, Portsmouth or Faslane in Scotland. As well as carrying out the initial assessment of your patients, we’ll give you extra training in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, group therapy and many more to enable you to treat your patients too. Our mental health nurses can be deployed around the world when required. This could be in support of the Maritime Role 3 capability on board RFA Argus, caring for clinical staff and patients alike. Or you could be part of the Waterfront Logistics Support Group; a network of specialists ready to deploy to ships and units around the world, should the need arise.

If you have questions, talk to us

Your role

  • Complete your BSc in Mental Health Nursing at Birmingham City University
  • Once qualified, start your preceptorship at one of our Department of Community Mental Health Centres
  • Combine military training with medical skills
  • The role is varied – you could work ashore, offering community care to returning personnel, or provide occupational mental health assessment, treatment and management on missions all over the world 
  • Contribute to the operational effectiveness of our personnel
  • Be part of a world-class medical service that’s respected far beyond the Armed Forces


What you’ll get

Skills for life

Qualifications you'll gain

  • BSc Mental Health Nursing
  • Option for additional therapy qualifications after your BSc
  • Civilian recognised Leadership and Management qualifications

Skills you'll develop

  • Unique mental health care, assessment, treatment and management
  • Specialist vocational qualifications in areas such as cognitive behavioural therapy and addictions
  • Become adaptable and versatile in carrying your nursing expertise around the world
  • Team work, multi-disciplinary collaboration and communication

Career progression

What you'll need


  • Aged 17 and a half to 39
  • Multiple entry points exist to gain 120 UCAS points; check with MSAT PO as not all accepted
  • At least 3 GCSEs at grades A-C (9-4) (or Scottish equivalent), which must include English Language, Mathematics and a Science subject. Other Level 2 study may be considered
  • A Body Mass Index (BMI) between 18 and 28 (between 17 and 27 if under 18)
  • Be a British or Irish national, a Commonwealth citizen, or a Dual National
  • Pass the Naval Swimming Test

Skills and interests

  • Excellent interpersonal skills
  • A caring and compassionate nature
  • An independent thinker
  • A highly organised team player, who remains calm under pressure 
  • An adventurous spirit

Check Eligibility

Check Eligibility

Starting your career

Joining process

Once you’ve confirmed your eligibility, the joining process is as follows:

  • Submit an application

    Once you’ve registered your interest and have satisfied the basic eligibility criteria, you will be sent an online application form

  • Defence Aptitude Assessment (DAA)

    You’ll be tested on: Verbal Reasoning, Numerical Reasoning, Work Rate, Spatial Reasoning, Electrical Comprehension and Mechanical Comprehension.
    To prepare, you can practise the DAA

  • Interview

    A formal interview to talk through your suitability for the role. This is normally conducted using your own device over the Shine video platform

  • Medical and eye tests

    These are quite comprehensive and must be completed by one of our Ministry of Defence-approved doctors

  • Pre-Joining Fitness Test (PJFT)

    This involves completing a 2.4km run on a treadmill within a certain time, at a fitness centre near you

  • Student Nurse Assessment Board

    This is a 1 day board held in November each year in Portsmouth where you will deliver a 10-minute presentation on a clinical subject, take part in a team working exercise and sit a 30-40 minute interview with the Nurse Education Advisor and Specialist Medical Recruitment Team.

  • Candidate Preparation Course (CPC)

    This four-day induction to life in the Royal Navy, including a Swimming Test and a fitness assessment, is a pass or fail course

  • Start training

    Once you’ve passed a Security Check, you’ll be offered a place at HMS Raleigh. University intakes are either September or January, depending on when you get your A-level results. You’ll start at HMS Raleigh 12-14 weeks before you’re due to join BCU. 

Initial training

Your Royal Navy career begins with 10 weeks’ basic training at HMS Raleigh, a shore base in Torpoint, Cornwall. The discipline, teamwork, organisational, firefighting and weapon handling skills you learn here will stay with you right through your career. 

Aim to get yourself as fit as possible before you arrive. You’ll be doing a lot of physical exercise, and you’ll find it much easier if you’re already in shape.

There's also a swimming test, so if you can't swim, make sure you learn by the time you join us.

Professional training

You’ll study for your degree at Birmingham City University and you’ll have to balance your studies with additional military training. Once you’re registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Council and you’ve completed your Military Transition Course, you’ll take up your first post as Acting Leading Naval Nurse at a Department of Community Mental Health Centre in major base port areas; Plymouth, Portsmouth or Scotland. 

You’ll then begin your preceptorship programme, start signing off your Defence Operational Nursing Competencies and continue your development as a qualified Mental Health Nurse.