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District nurse

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District nurses care for people outside of hospital in patients’ homes, GP surgeries and in residential care homes.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £26,250 to £41,250 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: Variable per week

1. Entry requirements

You’ll need

You’ll then need to take a NMC approved specialist practitioner course in district nursing. These courses are usually at degree or postgraduate level and take 1 year full-time, or longer if they're part-time.

You may be able to find a vacancy with the NHS that includes working under supervision, receiving a salary and studying for the specialist practitioner course.

2. Skills required

You’ll need:

  • excellent observational skills to identify potential health problems
  • excellent communication and listening skills
  • tact, understanding, patience and sensitivity
  • the ability to teach others how to carry out routine nursing tasks
  • record-keeping and organisational skills

3. What you'll do

You’ll visit clients on a regular basis, sometimes several times a day. You’ll assess their needs, and plan and manage their care.
Your clients will usually be:

  • older people with health problems
  • people with terminal illnesses
  • people who are physically disabled 

Your day-to-day duties may include:

  • administering drugs
  • checking temperature, blood pressure and breathing
  • helping doctors with physical examinations
  • giving injections
  • cleaning and dressing wounds
  • monitoring or setting up intravenous drips
  • providing emotional support and practical advice to patients and their families
  • teaching basic caring skills where needed 
You may also help run specialist clinics, like those for people with diabetes. You might also carry out emergency procedures when a client has had an injury or a cardiac arrest.

4. Salary

Starter: £26,250

Experienced: £35,250

Highly Experienced: Up to £41,250 (team leader)

You may earn more with additional responsibilities and length of service.

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

In many services you’ll work a shift between 8am and 8pm. Evening and weekend work is common. You may also be on an on-call rota covering hours outside standard service times.

You’ll usually be based at a health centre as part of a community health care team. You’ll usually need a driving licence as you’ll spend a lot of time travelling in the area your service covers.

6. Career path and progression

With experience you could lead a team of nurses or become a community matron. You could also go into general health service management or become head of community nursing.

You could move into health promotion, research or education. You may also be able to find work overseas, especially in developing countries.

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Last updated: 13 September 2018