What does a Registered Nurse do?
Working as a registered nurse is a varied and rewarding career that offers healthcare professionals the chance to interact with individuals and the wider community across each of the four nursing specialisms (adult, child, learning disability, mental health). Read more to find out about the roles and responsibilities of different types of nurse roles, including Registered Nurse, Registered Mental Health Nurse and a Children's Nurse.
Registered nurses can be found in hospitals, schools, nursing homes and clinics as well as working in the community and even in prisons. Essentially, registered nurse opportunities can be found almost anywhere: making it a great career path for people who enjoy flexible working with plenty of opportunities for progression.
Registered nursing specialisms and settings
What your day to day looks like as a registered nurse depends very much on where you work and the individuals you care for - a school nurse, for example, will have very different priorities than a theatre nurse. Registered nurses work across the full spectrum of health and social care, as evidenced by the specialism you choose on your path to becoming a registered nurse. Here’s what your roles and responsibilities might look like:
Typically, adult nurses work either in primary or secondary care settings (community, care homes or hospitals).
Primary care and community nursing
Primary care includes health promotion, disease prevention, health maintenance, counseling, patient education, diagnosis and treatment of acute and chronic illnesses.
Nurses working in primary care settings work at the initial point of contact for the community, either in GP surgeries or in the community, working proactively to improve health and avoid hospital admission.
An adult nurse (RN/RNA), can work as district nurses to assist people living with long-term health conditions such as respiratory illnesses, heart failure and diabetes, they may also provide end of life care for individuals wishing to stay at home. They can also work in the school community or with clients who can’t visit GP surgeries to support their health care needs.
Nurses working in primary care settings will often have their own caseloads and their community experience opens up the opportunity to work in complex care with Newcross. the role working within clients’ homes or, for more senior and experienced nurses, to case manage people with complex care needs, including people requiring specialist skills and intervention skills.
Secondary care and hospital nursing
Individuals with a condition that a primary care professional cannot resolve for them will be referred to a secondary care service. Secondary care refers to services provided by health professionals who generally do not have the first contact with a patient, this includes hospitals.
Working primarily in hospitals, these nurses are based in wards with individuals requiring health care which could be acute or chronic. Nurses work as part of a multi-disciplinary team with other health professionals including doctors, physiotherapists, social workers etc. The nurse would typically undertake assessments and clinical observations of the individual, planning and providing care, prescribed medication and other treatments. Nurses in this environment work shift patterns and will handover to other nurses to ensure individuals receive round-the-clock care.
Nurses can also work in outpatient clinics, accident and emergency or theatres as well as wards.
Mental health nursing
Like community nursing, mental health nurses work with individuals to promote good health and a high standard of living whether at home or in a mental health unit. It’s a diverse specialism supporting individuals who might require complex care at any age. Depending on specialist training, mental health nurses may work with children, older age individuals, adults or mother and baby cases. As such there’s less emphasis on specific daily tasks and more importance placed on adaptability of care, where crisis teams can work with individuals as necessary to avoid hospital admissions or can monitor and support people in their own homes.
Registered mental health nurses provide therapeutic care and support as well as administering medication and monitoring health status, so they’ll need to be empathetic, nurturing individuals with good interpersonal skills.
Learning disability nursing
learning disability nursing focuses on supporting adults and children with learning disabilities to live enriched, fulfilling lives; they may often work with an individual for several years. Care and support is largely provided at home rather than in an institution, with learning disability nurses are at the forefront of this support.
In hospitals or care homes, learning disability nurses can provide advice and support for other healthcare professionals unfamiliar with the specific needs of the individual. Above all, the role of learning disability nurses is to help individuals live as independently as possible, and as such you’ll need to have solid active listening skills and be able to promote positive communication and enable and support independence.
Children’s or paediatric nursing
Working either in children’s wards or homes or in the community, children’s nurses deal with individuals ranging from newborns to teenagers. Providing direct care to the child while supporting parents and guardians with their child’s needs, children’s nurses work to ensure individuals receive the best care possible both at home and in hospital.
in hospitals and care homes, the role of the children’s nurse will look similar to the adult nurse except they are supporting children. Understanding the role of play is very important and is often key to communicating with young or frightened children. Additionally, the children’s nurse will be involved in supporting parents and guardians learn how to be involved in the care routine of their child and providing play and learning opportunities.
In the community, including complex care with Newcross, children’s nurses look after children in their homes who may have very complex needs including tube feeding, breathing support and mobility issues. Typically, the nurse will support assess and plan care, providing nursing care to in order to reduce attendance and admissions to hospital, and expedite hospital discharge, as well as educating families on how care can affect the family as a whole.
Working as an agency nurse
As an agency nurse, registered nurses have the flexibility to work the shifts they want to and in environments that suit them. Temporary nursing roles can be in hospitals, care homes, schools or within the community, allowing you to pick up new skills and gain experience across primary and secondary settings.
At Newcross, our registered nurses work with full flexibility, as they’re free to pick up as many or as few shifts as they want through our HealthForceGo® app. With additional training opportunities available, RNs can also work towards becoming a lead nurse or other senior nursing staff across their specialism.
To view the latest flexible nursing jobs in your area, check out our jobs portal.