Nurse: job description

Nurse: job description

Nurses plan and provide medical and nursing care to patients in hospital, at home or in other settings who are suffering from chronic or acute physical or mental ill health.
A caring and compassionate nature, and the ability to deal with emotionally charged and pressured situations are important traits of a nurse.

What does a nurse do? Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

Nurses work as part of a team of professional and medical staff that includes doctors, social workers and therapists.

Typical duties of the job include:

  • assessing and planning nursing care requirements
  • providing pre- and post-operation care
  • monitoring and administering medication and intravenous infusions
  • taking patient samples, pulses, temperatures and blood pressures
  • writing records
  • supervising junior staff
  • organising workloads
  • providing emotional support to patients and relatives
  • tutoring student nurses

24-hour shift work can be a requirement of the job.

Typical employers of nurses

  • Hospitals
  • NHS trusts
  • Residential homes
  • Prisons
  • Agencies
  • Health centres
  • Schools
  • Companies
  • GP practices

Advertisements appear in newspapers, NHS trusts' jobs lists and publications such as Nursing Times, Nursing Standard, Paediatric Nursing and their respective websites.

Qualifications and training required

In order to qualify as a nurse you must study a three to four-year degree course. Graduates who already have a degree in a relevant subject such as life, health, biological or social sciences can qualify via a shortened two-year postgraduate diploma course.

Degree course applications should be made through UCAS; those for shortened postgraduate courses should be made directly to the relevant institutions. Any experience of caring for or working with people (eg in a care home or hospice) can be helpful.

Key skills for nurses

  • Good health and fitness
  • Caring and compassionate nature
  • Excellent teamwork and people skills
  • Observational skills
  • Ability to use initiative
  • Ability to deal with emotionally charged and pressured situations
  • Verbal and written communication skills
  • Resilience
  • Stamina