How to become a district nurse

If you’re interested in the role of a district nurse, this article will guide you through the training and skills required to become a district nurse and what kind of salary you can expect once qualified.

District nurses work in the community to help those who have difficulty getting to hospitals, hospices, GP practices, and other service providers. Care is typically given to people in their homes, but because of the scope of the role, district nurses may work in other settings, such as care homes.

Daily responsibilities of a district nurse include:

  • Evaluating the needs of healthcare patients and families
  • Tracking and assessing the quality of care they are receiving
  • Taking professional responsibility for the delivery of care
  • Providing support and guidance to patients and their families

District nurses care for people of all ages but most commonly look after elderly patients and those with terminal illnesses or physical disabilities. This is because these patients will usually have the most difficulty getting to and from service providers. The care and support district nurses provide play a key part in keeping hospital admissions to a minimum.

Qualifications needed to become a district nurse

To become a district nurse, you need:

  • A nursing degree
  • To be registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC)
  • To complete an additional training programme

District nurses are required to complete specialist training, whereas community nurses can work towards the role once they are registered with the NMC.

Postgraduate courses

You can complete a postgraduate diploma (PGDip), a master’s course, or other courses at postgraduate level to become a district nurse. Different institutions will ask for varying amounts of experience, so you should make sure to pick the right course.

District nurse apprenticeship

Like postgraduate courses, nurses can also take part in a Level 7 Apprenticeship in District Nursing. This course takes a year to complete and lets students split their time between study and work.

A district nurse apprenticeship will require nurses to be registered with the NMC and have a 1st or 2nd class honours degree to apply.

Specialist practitioner programmes

A popular way to become a district nurse is through a specialist practitioner programme in district nursing. These courses are usually funded by employers and offer community staff the chance to explore what it means to be a district nurse.

Courses are 50% theory and 50% practice, giving nurses the opportunity to explore:

  • Clinical nursing practices
  • Care and programme management
  • Clinical practice development
  • Clinical practice leadership

Specialist practitioner programmes are designed to help nurses enhance their career progression opportunities, offering them the option to have a role in either operational, policy or commissioning levels. Similar to the other pathways for becoming a district nurse, nurses need to be registered with the NMC to apply to a specialist practitioner programme. Make sure that you check the requirements of your selected course before applying.

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Must-have skills to become a district nurse

Even though there are numerous ways to become a district nurse, it takes certain skills to thrive in this role. Key skills that will help you in this career include:

  • Time management and organisation
  • Adaptability and resourcefulness
  • Confidence and composure
  • Resilience
  • Leadership and management skills
  • Good communication and interpersonal skills
  • Problem-solving ability and fair judgement

When applying for district nurse roles, these skills may not be listed, but they will be necessary for you to do your job to the best of your ability.

What is a district nurse salary in the UK?

On average, a district nurse can expect to earn between £35,000 and £43,000 per year. A district nurse salary typically starts at £35,392 on NHS England band 6 after completing specialist training. As you advance in your career, you can become a district nurse lead or an area nursing lead, earning a salary of up to £57,349 on a band 8a.

The salary of a district nurse will vary based on location, contract type and whether they work in the NHS or private sector.

What career progression is available to district nurses?

District nurses can have very lucrative careers, as they have lots of opportunities to progress and develop. You could pursue careers in:

  • Team management and becoming a community matron
  • Teaching, lecturing or clinical research
  • Mentoring and becoming a preceptor for other nurses

Explore district nursing opportunities with Pulse

Here at Pulse, we nurture the best talent in UK healthcare. Once you’ve qualified as a district nurse, our team will support you through the application process to help you find your perfect role.

Browse our available district nursing positions or register to be notified of upcoming opportunities.

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