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Career profile: Adult nurse

Career profile: Adult nurseGet the lowdown on what the job involves, what qualifications you need and how long it takes to train.

A what?

Adult nurses are primarily concerned with nursing sick and injured adults back to health in both hospital and community settings.

On the job

The focus of attention for a qualified nurse is the patient: not simply the condition from which he or she may be suffering, but the needs and anxieties which it may generate, including the pressures on family and friends.

Your place of work may be a hospital ward or specialist clinic, or it could be out in the community - visiting people at home or attached to local health centres. Nurses are playing an increasingly prominent role in the provision of health care in the community. At the same time, other nurses are at the forefront in very specialist areas such as intensive care, theatre and recovery, cancer care and care of the elderly.

What makes adult nursing such a challenge is the sheer diversity of situations you will have to respond to. You will be working with people who have acute and long-term illnesses. Many will be elderly, others will be younger people with chronic and acute illnesses and injuries.

As a nurse you need to know what to do, and you need to know why you're doing it. You will be part of a multi-disciplinary team that includes doctors, physiotherapists, anaesthetists, pharmacists, dietitians and many more. So you also need to know how all these different people interlock.

The challenges of adult nursing are many and varied. You will need the presence of mind to juggle priorities among very different and constantly changing needs of patients. You will be the most frequent point of contact for patients, so you must be able to answer their questions and make sure their needs are recognised by the rest of the care team.

Course entry requirements

To work in the NHS, nurses must hold a degree in nursing, which leads to registration with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), enabling them to practice as a nurse.

Entry requirements vary depending on the course and the institution, so check before applying. You will usually need around five GCSEs plus two A-levels (or Highers) for a degree programme.

What does the training involve?

Degree courses last three or four years, and lead to a BSc in Nursing.

All nursing degrees consist of common foundation programmes (CFP) usually for one year on full-time courses, before specialisation in the next two or three years of the course.

Part-time courses are provided by some universities and normally last for five or six years. They are available to staff working in the NHS – usually as an assistant or an associate practitioner with qualifications up to NVQ level 3 (or equivalent).

Related links

(Information taken from NHS Careers)