Nursing is a profession that people enter at all stages in life. Nursing is as much of a calling as it is a profession. Many people feel drawn to it because they have a need to care for others. The forefront of what community nurses believe in is helping and making a difference.
Community nurses, also known as district nurses, play a crucial part in the primary health care team. They are qualified nurses who provide care and support for patients out of the hospital. Usually in patients’ homes, in clinics based in GP surgeries or within health centres.
As a community nurse, you would be assisted by healthcare assistants, who may visit to assist with tasks that need extra hands, but it is more common than not that few people realise how much you’ll actually do.
By providing increasingly complex care for patients and support for their support network, you are affecting the lives of everyone you meet, every day.
Your patients could be any age, but they’ll often be older people. While others may have been recently discharged from hospital, be terminally ill or have physical disabilities.
You’ll do a lot more than just administer medicine. Whatever the patient's condition, you’ll be on hand to provide the support they need to improve their outcomes.
What do community nurses do?
Community nursing is a very varied role, and nurses need to be adaptable to a variety of workplaces and provide care without the resources within a hospital. Their role is usually made up of working with patients who are either:
- Terminally ill
- Require ongoing treatment
- Recently out of hospital
Community nurses are essential in keeping hospital admissions down. This is because they are seeing patients within the comfort of their own home, meaning that they are not visiting hospitals. Also, because the patient will be seeing the same person, it allows a relationship to form, and trust to grow.
Community nurses are trained to perform a variety of nursing procedures. These may include:
- Checking a patient’s vitals – such as checking temperature, blood pressure and breathing
- Administering injections
- Assisting with examinations and medical procedures
- Cleaning and dressing wounds
- Setting up intravenous drips, and monitoring ongoing care
Additionally, they are also an important part of the education for patients and their support networks or carers. They can offer information on various aspects of healthcare. In some situations, they may also be expected to provide emergency care, if a patient has suffered an accident or a complication, such as a cardiac arrest.
Community nurses are not only there to provide medical support, they also provide a level of emotional support and specialise in ‘joint care management'. These are situations in which social services or wider care programmes may be involved. Community nurses are the ones who deliver long term care plans, also known as LTP’s.
What Skills are Required to be a Community Nurse?
Community nurses, as with most other nursing fields require very good communication skills. You need to effectively understand the needs of their patients and explain the treatment process. Additionally, youneed to be able to clearly document treatment plans and progress whilst collaborating with other healthcare professionals.
A successful community nurse would be able to comfortably adapt to working with people of all ages and backgrounds. You need to be able to quickly adapt their manner to the patient, and the way they communicate. You also need to be adaptable to work environments and being able to provide care without the resources of a hospital.
As with most healthcare roles, a community nurse needs to be caring, empathetic and able to provide emotional support to the patient’s support network. Some of the patients that you help may be going through a challenging time. A community nurse needs to be able to provide that emotional support while maintaining professional standards.
Promoting independence where possible is at the forefront of what community nurses stand for. You need to have the ability to teach. You are teaching people to care for themselves again. Some patients may need an appointment every day, and this is not always possible. For example, if a patient has a wound that needs cleaning and re-dressing. You teach either the patient or the patient’s family how to do so.
To become a community nurse, a certain level of education is required, as with many other healthcare professionals. All fields of nursing require extensive education and training. You would need to complete a nursing degree. This is most commonly done through a University, however, there is an option to do it through an apprenticeship. Although, these are rare.
If you are considering a career in nursing and University, you’d need to meet university entry requirements. Each university sets its own entry requirements, so it would be best to check with your desired place of study first.
Most commonly, however, they will ask for GCSE English and Maths, graded between 4-9 (grades A-C), and often, a Science too. As well as two or three relevant A Levels, or equivalent.
If you do not hold these qualifications, there is an alternative available. A widely recognised equivalent to GCSE Maths and English would be Functional Skills. You would also need to check with your chosen University that they would accept this as an equivalent.
Equivalent qualifications to A Levels include a BTEC, HND or HNC, a relevant NVQ or an Access to Higher Education Diploma. Scottish and Irish applicants will need to hold their nationally recognised equivalent.
An Access to Higher Education Diploma is a popular route for anyone aged 18 or over, who do not hold A Levels. This is only one course to gain your entry requirements as opposed to two to three A Levels. Dependent on your final grade on your Access to HE Diploma, this could provide you with between 48 and 144 UCAS Points. This is equivalent to 3 A Levels.
If you already hold a degree, you may be eligible to complete a postgraduate nursing degree instead of a full undergraduate nursing degree. Assuming that your degree is in a relevant or similar field to nursing.
An Access to Higher Education Diploma (Nursing) is a perfect option to meet entry requirements. What’s more, it can be studied entirely online. Allowing you to qualify without having to sacrifice your already established schedule.
With the opportunity to work from the comfort of your own home, you can work around your current commitments. Whether that be childcare, work or otherwise. Giving you the flexibility to participate in your studies whenever suits you.
All of the learning material is available to you as soon as you enrol, unlike physical institutes where you would need to wait for the term to begin.
learndirect is the UK’s online learning provider. Offering a wide range of online courses, including GCSE’s, A Levels and Access to Higher Education Diplomas.
Take the jump into your new career by enrolling on our Access to HE Diploma (Nursing). Find out more by clicking below.