District nursing is all about providing care in the community. These hardy souls venture out of the hospital setting and provide healthcare to ill or disabled patients in their own homes, in care homes or in health centres.
They ensure that those who cannot go to hospital or their doctors’ surgery will still receive a high standard of care and they also provide a service for those who have recently been discharged from hospital.
Usually they are based at a health centre, but a typical week will see them travelling around the community. They have a huge responsibility: assessing and managing the care of patients and ensuring that patients and their families are educated about basic healthcare and care-giving.
They might be required to take urine and blood samples, administrate medicine or give injections, take blood pressure, dress wounds or set up drips. District nurses will also be responsible for assessing the patients’ situation, making sure that they have responded well to treatment and calling in other services when help is needed.
Salary & benefits
Salaries for nursing professionals are fixed in accordance with NHS wage bands. Entry-level nurses start on just over £20,000 per annum.
District nurses might earn anything between £26,000 and £35,000 a year. Those taking on a more managerial role might earn up to £41,000 a year.
While district nurses might not have to work night shifts, they could work as late as eight in the evening and work weekends too. Working hours might be organised around a shift basis and some services have district nurses working on-call too.
You must be a qualified and registered nurse to enter district nursing. In order to register with the Nursing & Midwifery Council (NMC) you must hold a degree in pre-registration nursing. Only after qualifying will a nurse take further training to become a district nurse.
District nurses should be able to communicate with people from all walks of life. They must be confident and assertive but, equally, patient and sensitive to patients’ needs.
As district nurses will often be visiting residences by themselves, they should have the ability to work alone as well as possessing good team work skills.
A huge part of the role is educating people about basic health care, so a district nurse should also be passionate and adept at teaching others.
Training & progression
Upon successful completion of pre-registration studies, nurses are required to register with the NMC and move into full-time work. Registration needs to be renewed once every three years and is dependent on fulfilling continuing professional development requirements. Nurses also need to attend training courses throughout their career to keep their skills fresh and up-to-date.
Those looking to become district nurses will then take a one or two year degree or postgraduate occupational health nursing programme which will lead to registration as a Specialist Community Public Health Nurse.