District nurses, also known as community nurses, visit patients regularly in their homes and in residential care homes, giving skilled, practical nursing care. They act as a link with local doctors, social workers and other services and play an important part in reducing the need for people to stay in hospital.
You could be:
visiting patients newly out of hospital
assessing the care needs of patients
treating people who have long term medical conditions or are in pain
attending people who are terminally ill and giving support to their family members
showing patients how to care for themselves, or showing their relatives how to care for them
picking up any problems and referring patients to social workers, GPs, public health nurses, occupational therapists or other professionals.
You work mainly with older people but sometimes with other age groups.
Under the NHS salary system Agenda for Change, as a district nurse you will be on Band 6, £35,522 to £43,286 a year. You can earn more on overtime and shift allowances. The current pay scales are from April 2022.
You spend much of your time travelling to patients’ homes.
You also see patients in health centres, clinics and surgeries.
In rural areas you may take on a number of roles.
The work is physically and emotionally strenuous. You might have to lift patients without available help.
Hours are mainly regular but you might have to work some weekends and evenings.
You must first qualify as a registered nurse (see Nurse - Adult).
After qualifying as a registered nurse you must register with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).
You would then study for a post-registration qualification in district nursing. NMC approved courses are offered by Glasgow Caledonian, Queen Margaret, Robert Gordon and West of Scotland universities.
You will require a satisfactory criminal record check from Disclosure Scotland to show that you are suitable for this type of work. Contact Disclosure Scotland for details on the type you would need.
You should have a good level of physical fitness. You will undergo health screening.
You need a driving licence and may also need a car.
Most district or community nurses work for the National Health Service (NHS). You can find NHS job vacancies in Scotland by visiting NHS Scotland Recruitment.
What Does it Take?
You should be:
able to work alone
a good communicator
very observant and have good judgement
willing to listen to others
adaptable and resourceful
confident and assertive
patient and tactful
able to make decisions.
Training is on the job. You would attend university on a part time basis.
You would continue to do supervised work in the community.
To continue working as a nurse you must renew your registration with the NMC every three years.
To renew your NMC registration you must keep your skills and knowledge up to date, by undertaking at least 35 hours of relevant Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and 450 of practice hours every three years. Full details can be found on NMC website.
You could take further courses in special aspects of district nursing.