This guide to community nurses, sometimes known as district nurses, looks at where they work, what the job involves, and the skills required to do this role.
Where does a community nurse work?
A community nurse provides personalised care to people in the community rather than in a traditional hospital setting. This could include working in service users’ homes, primary care settings, care homes, clinics, and health centres.
This role is often carried out solo but could include coordinating and working with a number of different groups too, such as social services. You’ll also find that there’s a need for community nurses across Britain – even in small towns and villages – so there’s usually the opportunity to work close to home.
What does a community nurse do?
No two days are the same for community nurses, and each day will be varied. Duties range from offering health advice, carrying out procedures and helping with medication to taking blood, changing dressings and assessing whether additional services may be required. Community nurses may also provide end of life care and rehabilitation support when required.
In this role, there might be service users that you see every day and some that you’ll see multiple times a day, and it could be that you’re their only point of contact which is just one of the reasons why this is such a rewarding career option.
What makes a good community nurse?
A good community nurse should be able to lead, have excellent clinical skills, and be knowledgeable in their work. However, being passionate about care and the wellbeing of service users is absolutely vital in this role too. Other useful qualities include the ability to listen and communicate with sensitivity, and to have patience with those that may struggle with communication themselves.
This is a high pressure role which requires self-reliance and the ability to use one’s judgement as quite often you’ll be working alone and won’t have anyone immediately on-hand to assist you. The environment also won’t be as controlled as it would be in a hospital, so you’ll need to be confident that you can work under those conditions.
What’s the difference between working as a nurse in a hospital and in the community?
The main difference between being a community nurse and working in a hospital is that you have to work more independently when you’re out in the community. For example, you’ll need to assess whether a patient is safe to be left alone when you finish your time with them because there won’t be another nurse to handover to like there would be in a hospital.
The two options are clinically quite similar as nurses in both environments will see the same types of conditions, something which is becoming increasingly apparent as more care is moved into the community.
If you’re considering becoming a nurse, take a look at our mental health nurse and children’s nurse guides too, as these will give you an idea of some of the other nursing career paths you can choose. You can also find out more in our nurse career guide.