District nurse

District nurses make a difference everyday to the lives of the people they visit at home and in residential care homes. They provide increasingly complex care for patients and support for family members.

Working life 

As a district nurse, you'll 

Your patients could be any age, but they'll often be elderly, while others may have been recently discharged from hospital, be terminally ill or have physical disabilities.

"I have an amazing, rewarding job and my aim is to continue to provide skilled and compassionate care for my patients in their homes for as long as I am able."

Read Elizabeth's story

You'll be visiting patients every day or more than once a day, offering help, advice and support. You may work on your own or with other groups, such as the social services, voluntary agencies and other NHS organisations and help to provide and co-ordinate a wide range of care services.

As well as providing direct patient care, you'll have a teaching and support role, working with patients to enable them to care for themselves or with family members teaching them how to give care to their relatives. You'll also be accountable for your own patient caseloads. 

You'll play a vital role in keeping hospital admissions and re-admissions to a minimum and ensuring that patients can return to their own homes as soon as possible. 

Entry requirements and training

You need to a registered adult, child, mental health or learning disability nurse to apply for a district nursing training programmes.

District nurse training programmes are known as specialist practitioner programmes and are at degree level. You can also find courses at post graduate certificate and Master's level. They are normally no less than one academic year (32 weeks) full time or part-time equivalent.

Specialist practitioner programmes comprise 50% theory and 50% practice and concentrate on four areas:

Community staff nurses can be funded onto a district nurse specialist practitioner programme via their employing organisation. Sponsorship opportunities are also available each year, usually with a September start, for applicants with the relevant registration and experience. These are advertised in the nursing press and the NHS Jobs website about six months prior to the start date.

A level 7 apprenticeship standard in district nursing has been approved for delivery. To get onto an apprenticeship, you will need to apply for an apprentice position with a health care provider. You can search for vacancies on the NHS Jobs website and Find an Apprenticeship website

'It's my job to assess and support patients, then co-ordinate a care package to give them the help they need.' Suzanne Whitwell, tissue viability nurse 

Read Suzanne's story 

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