Not signed up?


Adult nurse: Job description

Adult nurses care for adult patients who are suffering from acute and long-term illnesses and diseases. They support recovery from illness or operation by using care plans, carrying out care procedures and assessments and by focusing on the needs of the patient rather than the illness or condition. They also promote good health and well-being through education.

Nurses usually work within a multidisciplinary team but are the main point of contact for patients, often providing the most continuity of care. Adult nurses work mainly in hospitals and the community, attached to a health centre or general practice and in residential homes, specialist units, schools and hospices. Many nurses work with patients in their own homes.

Typical work activities

Gaining the trust and confidence of each patient is an important aspect of the job for nurses, especially as they have more contact with patients than other members of the medical team. This extends to developing a good relationship with the patient's relatives as well, particularly in cases of chronic illness where the patient may be returning regularly for treatment.

Patients may have chronic conditions, such as diabetes or heart/kidney problems, or serious acute conditions, such as heart failure, stroke, hepatitis or burns. They may be in hospital for surgery, admitted to accident and emergency with injuries, attending an outpatient clinic or undergoing tests and assessments.

The trend for community-based care has led to an increase in the number of opportunities for working in the community. By giving people preventative treatment and meeting patient needs in the comfort of their own home, unnecessary travel to hospital for appointments and hospital admissions is often avoided. It is possible for a newly qualified nurse to work in the community, although many gain a year's hospital experience first.

Exact duties may vary depending on your role but will usually include:

  • writing patient care plans;
  • implementing plans through tasks such as preparing patients for operations, wound treatment and monitoring pulse, blood pressure and temperature;
  • observing and recording the condition of patients;
  • checking and administering drugs and injections;
  • setting up drips and blood transfusions;
  • assisting with tests and evaluations;
  • carrying out routine investigations;
  • responding quickly to emergencies;
  • planning discharges from hospital and liaising with community nurses, GPs and social workers;
  • communicating with and relieving the anxiety of patients and their relatives;
  • advocating on behalf of patients;
  • educating patients about their health;
  • organising staff and prioritising busy workloads;
  • mentoring student and junior nurses;
  • maintaining patient records;
  • making ethical decisions related to consent and confidentiality.
Written by Rosie Plimmer, AGCAS
June 2013

Search graduate jobs


Sponsored links


This website is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with CSS enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets if you are able to do so.