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District nurses

District nurse icon with stethoscope and text saying Dirstrict nurses


District nurses lead and co-ordinate a team of community nurses working outside the hospital. Working with patients in their own homes enables the district nursing team to provide patient-centred care in partnership with patients and their families.

The role of the community nurse includes supporting patients who are unwell and recovering at home, including helping patients to understand and manage their health challenges and regain their independence.

They take part in a great range of nursing activities, such as medication management, wound care and end-of-life care, as well as acting as an advocate for the patient and their family. 

Being able to work in partnership with people and their families in their own home is a privilege. It means we can tailor care to address the reality of their circumstances.'

Julie Bliss, Senior Lecturer in Nursing, King’s College London



To become either a community nurse or district nurse, you first need to study a nursing degree, which could be a three-year undergraduate nursing course (BSc).

As district nurses are responsible for leading teams of community nurses, as well as qualifying as adult nurses they also have to complete an additional one-year programme of study to give them the specialist practice qualification of district nurse.

Alongside these qualifications, to become a district nurse you need to be well-organised and patient, with good communication, decision-making and time-management skills.

Career opportunities

As healthcare is increasingly being delivered outside of the hospital, there are a great number of interesting career opportunities to work as a community nurse or district nurse (i.e. managing teams of community nurses).

Community nurses can work with patients of all different ages as well as specialising in particular areas, such as with patients with diabetes.

Developments in community nursing such as advanced assessment skills and independent prescribing also enable more advanced nurse practitioners to work directly with patients – particularly those with long-term physical health problems – to avoid them having to be admitted into hospital.

Other opportunities include working with the homeless and refugees as well as working with integrated health and social care teams to help patients become more independent.

Top tip

Take a look at the Queen’s Nursing Institute website, which includes a range of resources that demonstrate the different roles involved in community nursing.

Find out what services are offered in your local area and identify any opportunities for voluntary work, such as working at your local GP practice, for example.

Find out more


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