Nurse: Job Profile & Role

As a nurse, you play a crucial role in the health care system. You might either work in an NHS or private hospital, at a health centre or even in a client’s private home. The core responsibilities of a nurse in the UK include providing care and support to patients such as assessing and monitoring their health, administering medications and maintaining accurate medical reports. To start your career as a nurse in the UK you have to complete an approved nursing degree program or hold a bachelor’s degree in nursing. As a nurse, you can climb the career ladder by specialising or moving into management or teaching.

Short Summary

  • The job profile of a nurse in the UK includes typically the responsibilities to provide care and support to patients in hospitals, health centres or hospices.
  • To become a nurse in the UK it is mandatory to complete an approved nursing program or hold a bachelor’s degree in nursing.
  • Nurses in the UK need a wide set of hard skills as well as soft skills such as sensitivity, the ability to stay calm in stressful situations, and the desire to help others.

Job description

Nurses work in multidisciplinary teams of doctors, pharmacists, and dietitians. The working environment of a nurse is either at a hospital, a health centre, an adult care home or a hospice. To start your career as a nurse in the UK an approved nursing degree or bachelor’s degree in nursing is mandatory. Generally speaking, the core responsibility of a nurse is to provide care and support to patients. Your job involves a multitude of tasks such as assessing and monitoring patient’s health and well-being, collaborating with other healthcare professionals, and maintaining accurate medical records and documentation. Working hours depend on the specific healthcare setting you work at. Most of the time nurses may work in shifts including day shifts, night shifts, and weekend shifts.


  • Assessment of patient’s health status
  • Administration of medications and treatments
  • Monitoring of vital signs
  • maintaining of patient’s records and general documentation
  • Developing comprehensive care plans
  • advising patients or relatives
  • communicate with patients and their relatives
  • providing emotional support
  • Providing wound care management

Different types of Nurses

  • registered general nurse
  • practice nurse
  • community nurse
  • mental health nurse


The average annual salary of a nurse in the UK is between £25,000 and £35,000. However, the salary of a nurse in the UK might be a lot higher depending on your qualifications, your experience, and the specific area you work in. The annual salary for a nurse in the UK depends on the so-called “bands”. A band 5 nurse can expect to earn up to about £31,000 per year whereas a band 9 nurse’s salary is up to £108,000 each year.

If you decide to work in a private hospital you might even earn more than the above-mentioned figures as you are free to negotiate your salary. In addition to the annual salary nurses typically receive compensation for working unsocial hours as well as other benefits such as pension contributions.

Working hours

As a nurse you either work full-time or part-time. As a full-time nurse, you are expected to work between 37 and 42 hours a week. Keep in mind, that you might have to work overtime hours if necessary or do on-call duties based on staffing needs and patient acuity levels. Overall, the schedules a nurse has to work can be demanding as they require flexibility to accommodate the needs of the healthcare facility.

The working hours of a nurse depend on the healthcare field you work for. If you are working as a nurse at a hospital, adult care home or hospice you will work in shifts. There are different types of shifts including the day shift, the evening shift, and the night shift. Day shifts usually are between eight and twelve hours. In hospitals and other 24-hour care facilities, you might be expected to work rotating shifts. Then, you will do a combination of day, evening, and night shifts over a month.


In the UK there is a wide range of different healthcare facilities and organisations that employ nurses. Here you find a few examples of common employers of nurses in the UK:

  • NHS: The “National Health Service” runs hospitals, common health services, and mental health services all over the country. It is the largest employer of nurses.
  • Private hospitals: In addition to the hospitals that are run by the NHS various private hospitals in the UK employ nurses.
  • Educational institutions: Here, experienced nurses are employed to play a crucial role in preparing the next generation of healthcare professionals by providing knowledge, skills, and experience.
  • Nonprofit organisations: These organisations employ nurses to deliver care to underserved populations or communities in need.


To become a nurse in the UK it is mandatory to possess a degree and have to be registered with the Nursing and Midwife Council (NMC). There are entry requirements for nursing degree courses you need to fulfil. These can vary as each university sets its criteria. However, usually, you are expected to have at least two, more often than not three, A-Levels or equivalent qualifications at level 3. Some universities offer courses with a foundation year for students without the necessary entry qualifications.

When you decide to study nursing you have to choose a field of nursing. These are the four fields in nursing to choose from:

  • adult nursing
  • children’s nursing
  • learning disability nursing
  • mental health nursing

However, there are some degree courses where you can study in two of the above-mentioned fields.

The job as a nurse could be suitable for you if you have one or more of the following qualifications:


As a nurse, you need both clinical skills and a wide range of soft skills. In this section, we will have a closer look at the specific soft skills of a nurse that are crucial for every nurse in the UK no matter in which specific healthcare environment they might be employed. However, you should keep in mind that depending on your employer you might also need additional skills.

Is the nurse job a good fit for you? Typically, a nurse should have or develop the following skills:

Sensitivity and understanding

As a nurse, you usually deal with patients who are in pain and feel vulnerable or scared or embarrassed. Therefore, a nurse has to approach them with empathy and understanding. This involves being attentive to the patient’s emotions and asking the right questions. It is crucial to understand the unique circumstances of each patient and provide personalised care. In addition, a nurse often deals with relatives of patients who care for the well-being of their loved ones.

Attention to Detail

The duties of a nurse include responsibilities such as administering medications, monitoring patient’s conditions, and documenting their care accurately. Paying attention is vital as errors might have fatal consequences. Therefore, being detail-orientated ensures that a nurse will react immediately if a patient’s conditions change.

Ability to work under pressure

As a nurse, you usually will have to take care of several patients at the same time. In addition, healthcare facilities tend to be fast-paced and unpredictable. Therefore, nurses often face high-pressure situations while caring for patients and still have to be able to pay attention to detail as well as be sensitive and understanding. As a nurse, you need the ability to stay calm and focus on your patients during emergencies. This includes being able to prioritise tasks, make quick decisions, and develop coping mechanisms to manage stress to maintain your health.

Career Path

To start a career as a nurse in the UK you have to complete a nursing degree program which is approved by the Nursing and Midwife Council. However, there are different paths to becoming a registered nurse. As you progress in your career in nursing you have various opportunities. You can either specialise, move into teaching or research, or even choose to transition into management of a healthcare organisation.

Educational Background

If you decide to start a career as a nurse in the UK you first have to complete a nursing degree that is approved by the Nursing and Midwife Council (NMC). However, there are different ways to complete a nursing degree. You might either complete a bachelor’s degree of science in nursing or an apprenticeship program. Only after completing your education, you can register with the NMC. This is mandatory to practice as a nurse in the UK.

Entry Level

Gaining work experience as a nurse usually starts during the degree program. There, students have the opportunity to gain hands-on experience through clinical placements in hospitals, community health settings, or other healthcare facilities. During these placements nurses-to-be gain valuable practice while being under the supervision of experienced nurses and further healthcare professionals.

After gaining your degree as a nurse you may start your career with a specific program for newly qualified nurses. These include structured support such as mentorship and additional training.

Continuous Learning

As the healthcare field is constantly evolving nurses must stay updated on the latest evidence-based practices, technology advancements, and changes in healthcare policies and regulations. In addition, nurses need to know about new medications, their areas of application, as well as their side effects and pharmacological interactions.

Continuous learning as a nurse can be achieved by taking part in workshops, seminars, and conferences. There, nurses can expand their knowledge, learn about new developments in healthcare, and form networks. Finding a mentor and working with experienced nurses can provide valuable guidance and support for nurses as they navigate their next career steps.

A Day in the Life of a Nurse

In most cases, the schedule of a nurse follows the same patterns every day. However, the specifics depend on the sort of healthcare facility you work for and the shift you are on. It is also important to note that the tasks and responsibilities of a nurse vary based on their clinical speciality. Overall, a nurse’s work schedule is characterised by providing care for patients and ensuring the documentation of their health.

Medication Administration and Wound Management

Among the core responsibilities of a nurse, especially in hospitals, are the administration of medications and wound management. Nurses administer medications to patients according to prescribed schedules, ensuring accurate dosages and monitoring for any side effects. Nurses also play a key role in assessing, treating, and monitoring various types of wounds such as those resulting from surgery. Wound management includes cleaning of wounds, applying appropriate dressings, and monitoring wounds for infections.

Collaborating with Doctors and other Medical staff

Nurses work in teams of healthcare workers such as doctors, physicians, and therapists. Therefore, nurses need to collaborate with these other healthcare professionals to coordinate a patient’s care plan and ensure holistic treatment approaches. Especially in hospitals and adult care homes shifts begin and end with shift handovers, where nurses update each other on patients’ condition, care plans, and any important information from the previous shift.

Patient Care and Documentation

Throughout each shift, nurses provide direct patient care such as assisting with activities of daily living, wound care, and monitoring temperatures, blood pressures, and pulse rates. It also includes responding to medical emergencies such as cardiac arrest or respiratory distress and coordinating with the healthcare team. At least at the end of each shift, nurses have to document and put down information in the patient’s Health record.

Tips for Thriving as a Nurse

As a nurse in the UK, you have various possibilities of progression. You can work your way up the career ladder, specialise in an area such as intensive care, or move into teaching. Whichever way you might choose, here you find some tips that will help you to thrive as a nurse in the UK. Successful nurses excel in the following aspects to thrive in their careers:

  • Continuous Learning
  • Effective Communication and Cultural Competence
  • Cultivating resilience and practicing Self-Care

Continuous Learning

Nurses in the UK need to stay updated on new concepts of care and guidelines. The healthcare sector is a fast-moving field concerning both guidelines and regulations as well as medical aspects. Therefore, as a nurse, you have to keep yourself informed about the Nursing and Midwife Council guidelines and standards. This will help you to provide high-standard care and move up the career ladder.

Effective Communication and Cultural Competence

As a nurse, you need excellent communication skills as you have to interact with patients, their relatives, and other healthcare professionals. Effective communication as a nurse is about being clear and concise to ensure everyone is on the same page. With patients, you need to be empathetic at the same time as they might be frightened. The UK has a diverse population and therefore you will care for patients from different cultural backgrounds as well. Understanding different cultural norms, beliefs, and practices is crucial for a nurse.

Cultivating resilience and practicing Self-Care

The role of a nurse is versatile and demanding and can be stressful at times. Therefore, nurses need to cultivate resilience and practice self-care if they want to succeed in this job. This includes maintaining work-life balance which in itself can be very difficult, especially for nurses that work shifts in hospitals. Nurses should exercise regularly to keep their physical health up and additionally practise mindfulness and relaxation techniques.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How much does a nurse earn?

How much you can earn as a nurse in the UK depends on various aspects such as experience, qualification, location, and the specific type of work. However, on average nurses in the UK can expect between £25,000 and £35,000 each year. You should keep in mind that experienced nurses, such as consultant nurses, might earn as much as £90,000. It is important to note that salaries in the private nursing sector can differ from these figures as they can be individually negotiated.

What qualifications do I need to become a nurse?

To start a career as a nurse in the UK you have to meet mandatory requirements. Therefore, nurses need to follow a specific educational and professional pathway. This includes completing a nursing degree program that is approved by the Nursing and Midwife Council. These programs are offered at various universities in the UK and lead to a bachelor’s degree in nursing. As an alternative route, you could do an apprenticeship which is a combination of on-the-job training and academic study. To work as a nurse in the UK you have to be registered with the NMS after completing your education as mentioned above.

What is the job of a nurse? 

In the UK nurses can work in NHS hospitals or private hospitals, at health centres, at an adult care home, or a hospice. Therefore, the role of a nurse is diverse and includes a wide range of responsibilities. Whilst these all aim at providing comprehensive and compassionate care to patients the specifics of the job might vary. Nevertheless, among the key aspects of the job of a nurse are patient care, care planning, and collaborating with other healthcare professionals.

What is a nurse practitioner?

In the UK the term Nurse Practitioner is often used to describe an Advanced Nurse Practitioner, also known as ANP. These are registered nurses who have undergone additional education and training and therefore are entitled to take on an expanded role in healthcare. As a nurse practitioner, you close the gap between traditional nursing and medical practice. As a nurse practitioner, you usually are trained and educated to be responsible for the following tasks:
practising widely autonomously
conducting assessments and diagnosis
prescribing medications