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Senior nurses - stroke ward

Senior nurse icon with red stethoscope and text Senior nurses - stroke ward


The role of a senior nurse on a stroke ward is usually divided between providing direct patient care – often working with the most acutely unwell people on the ward – and training other nurses and nursing students.

Working closely alongside other health professionals – such as senior doctors, physiotherapists and pharmacists – the senior nurse is responsible for making sure that the nurses with the right skills and experience are allocated to the patients who need them most, as well as coordinating the different teams on the unit.

The stroke ward nurse’s role also involves providing care throughout the 24-hour period, noticing small improvements and quickly acting on any signs of deterioration that might be missed by those who visit for one-off consultations.

Stroke ward nurses also work with the families of people who have had strokes, as they may need help understanding what has happened to their loved ones, or just somebody to listen to their worries and concerns. 

I love the variety of my work. One minute I’ll be doing a complex neurological assessment and the next just holding someone’s hand. To me, they are both as important as each other.'

Celia Hammond, Senior Nurse - stroke ward


To qualify as a nurse you need an undergraduate degree (BSc) in nursing with registration as a nurse in your chosen field of practice (e.g. adult nursing, mental health nursing or children’s nursing). To become a senior nurse you will also usually need at least two years’ post-qualification experience.

Some senior nurses will also have undertaken relevant further study, such as postgraduate courses in mentorship (supporting and assessing the learning of students in practice) or advanced assessment.

As well as these qualifications, working as a nurse at a senior level requires a level of quiet confidence. Things can be hectic on the ward and you need to be able to see the bigger picture and reassure people that everything is ok.

You also need to be organised, confident, articulate and knowledgeable, as well as being a good listener, flexible, authoritative and compassionate.

Career opportunities

At more senior levels, employers are often looking for nurses with a combination of advanced clinical skills, management and training experience, alongside the ability to undertake audit and research projects. Having this combination of skills can enable you to develop a rich and varied career as a senior nurse.

The fact that nurses are needed everywhere in the world means there are many opportunities to work worldwide, giving you the chance to get to know different health systems and cultures.

There are also many opportunities to specialise in different areas of nursing, such as neurological conditions like stroke. Becoming a specialist in a particular clinical area means you can quickly develop advanced skills, giving you the opportunity to work more autonomously and with patients with complex needs.

Top tip

Getting work experience in a hospital in any capacity will give you the chance to see what nurses do on a daily basis and help you get a more realistic understanding of what the role involves.

It’s also helpful to attend university open days where you can speak to current nursing students about their study and placement experience.

You can also find useful information on the Student Nurse online forum.

Find out more



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