What does a District Nurse do?

K. Gierok

A district nurse is a job position commonly held in the United Kingdom, and the term refers to a type of nurse who oversees a community with the help of other nurses and medical professionals. One of the most important duties of a district nurse is visiting patients. In addition, these nurses are regularly required to educate patients and make referrals to other medical professionals. Those who want to become district nurses must receive nursing education, and should consider education focused on management, clinical nursing, and palliative care training.

Man with hands on his hips
Man with hands on his hips

A senior nurse, otherwise known as a district nurse, is one who leads a team composed of nurses and other medical support workers in a specific community. One of the most important responsibilities of district nurses is visiting patients within the communities they serve. In many cases, these nurses must perform house calls, and though their patients can be of various ages, they are typically primarily elderly. The majority of patients seen by a community nurse have recently been released from a hospital, nursing home, or other medical facility, though they may still require high amounts of medical care and supervision. In other instances, patients may be terminally ill, in which case the nurse simply tries to make both the patient and family as comfortable as possible.

District nurses not only provide medical care and attention to those in the community, but also provide high amounts of education. These nurses teach patients about their condition and various treatment options, and in many cases, must also teach family members how to change bandages, apply creams or salves, and perform other similar functions. In addition, district nurses are often required to provide guidance to patients regarding new or existing medications. It is not uncommon for patients to exhibit confusion about when, how, and why they are taking certain medications, and it is often up to the district nurse to sort all of these questions out for the patient.

As part of their job description, district nurses also bring in other health professionals from time to time. Often, these professionals are already working under the leadership of the district nurse, and may include social workers, physical therapists, and other similar individuals. It is usually up to the district nurse to determine which ancillary medical professionals can best suit the needs of the patient in question.

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