A new "fast track" programme for nurses is being launched by NHS England.
The Nurse First programme will provide financial support for graduates who have degrees in subjects that are not nursing, but that are related.
It will enable people wishing to become a nurse to take a fast-track "top up" programme that will lead to them becoming a graduate nurse.
The programme will first supply nurses to mental health positions and those aimed at looking after people with learning disabilities.
NHS England said those on the programme will attend an educational course as well as receiving hands-on experience and training within the NHS.
Leadership roles could be achieved within five to seven years.
Professor Jane Cummings, Chief Nursing Officer for England, said: "More people are training to join the NHS every year and we remain on target in terms of overall recruitment although there are still gaps in our nursing workforce.
"As front line staff and services continue to face pressures from rising demand and more complex care, we know our workforce must continue to grow and adapt if it is to deliver diverse, high-quality care to more patients than ever before.
"As a profession, nursing has always greatly benefited from the varied backgrounds and life experience of its staff.
"It's vital we continue to attract the best and brightest graduates, offering additional entry routes and career opportunities, so that we can continue to deliver specialist, high-quality care to all."
Janet Davies, Chief Executive of the Royal College of Nursing, said: "There is a critical shortage of nurses in the NHS and unsafe staffing levels put high-quality patient care at risk.
"Measures to increase the number of registered nurses are very welcome and the Nurse First initiative is a positive way to attract talented graduates. Nursing is a hugely rewarding, complex and responsible profession.
"It is crucial to focus on retaining nurses who are deciding to leave and offer flexible employment to encourage people to return to nursing in the NHS."
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