Job profile

Adult Nurse

adult nurse

Adult Nurse Job Profile

Adult nurses tackle a broad range of responsibilities in their job roles, from creating care plans to carrying out health observations to administering medicine. Regardless of your day-to-day tasks as an adult nurse, you will make a real difference via your vocation.

Adult Nurse

Depending on which department or healthcare setting you work in, you could deal with minor injuries, chronic illnesses, or urgent medical emergencies by assessing patient needs, carrying out procedures and helping to implement care plans.

Building trust with patients and liaising with families and carers is a key part of the role, which will see you working in a multidisciplinary team and being the main point of contact for your patients.


Adult Nurses need to:

  • Create care plans for patients. 
  • Check patients’ pulse, temperature, and blood pressure. 
  • Treat wounds. 
  • Prepare patients for routine operations. 
  • Keep accurate records of your patient’s condition.
  • Administer injections and other medicines. 
  • Prepare patients for discharge from the hospital.
  • Set up blood transfusions and drips. 
  • Respond to emergencies. 
  • Liaise with other healthcare professionals and providers, such as GPs.
  • Assist doctors with evaluations and tests. 
  • Carry out basic routine investigations. 
  • Advocate for patients. 
  • Educate patients on health topics, such as quitting smoking and weight loss. 
  • Provide emotional support to your patients. 
  • Make ethical decisions with consideration for confidentiality and consent. 
  • Mentor student nurses. 
  • Stay on top of busy workloads.


The starting salary of an NHS adult nurse is £28,407

The average salary for an experienced band 5 or 6 adult nurse in the NHS ranges from £34,581 – £42,618

The salary potential for an adult nurse in modern matron and nurse consultant roles in the NHS is £50,952 – £57,349

Adult nurses working for the NHS also benefit from a well-paid pension scheme, in addition to maternity and sickness benefits. Private adult nurses receive other benefits; private healthcare insurance is a common benefit.

Working Hours

A 37.5-hour workweek is standard for adult nurses. For adult nurses working in hospitals, or any other setting where 24-hour care is provided, you will be expected to work in shifts, which will include working nights, weekends, and bank holidays.

If shift work isn’t for you, working in a clinic or within the community gives you a better chance of securing a 9-5 work pattern.

What to Expect

  • You will need to work closely with doctors, social workers, therapists, and other healthcare professionals to ensure that all your patients’ health and welfare needs are catered for.
  • You will often be the first point of contact for patients’ carers and families. 
  • The job can be demanding, especially if you are responsible for the care of many patients on a ward. 
  • It is an emotionally and physically demanding job, but one that will give you satisfaction when you can facilitate recovery or reduce suffering. 
  • You may be required to travel between clinics, homes, and hospital units. 
  • There is a high demand for adult nurses up and down the UK. 
  • If working for the NHS isn’t for you, you can consider a freelance career working for agencies or on a consultancy basis


All adult nurses in the UK must register with the Nursing & Midwifery Council. To register, you must hold a pre-registration nursing degree or have completed a registered nurse degree apprenticeship offered by a Nursing & Midwifery Council-approved institution.

A full-time nursing degree takes three years to complete; it will involve academic learning and hands-on clinical practice in the community, the homes of patients, hospitals, and potentially independent organisations.


As an adult nurse, you will need to be:

  • An excellent communicator. 
  • Effective in establishing trust and rapport with patients. 
  • Empathetic and compassionate enough to provide emotional support.
  • Willing to improve the well-being of your patients by providing information and advice. 
  • Emotionally resilient to cope with chronically and terminally ill patients. 
  • Able to keep accurate records and write clear care plans. 
  • Good at making judgement calls under pressure. 
  • Able to work effectively in a team. 
  • A proficient multi-tasker, as you will need to deal with multiple patients at any given time. 
  • Able to keep a keen eye for detail. 
  • Comfortable with taking a flexible approach to your workload.
  • An efficient organiser.

Work Experience

As you will gain ample clinical experience as part of your adult nursing degree, it isn’t necessary to gain experience outside of the hours you clock up in clinical settings as a student nurse.  

However, before enrolling in an adult nursing course or apprenticeship, it is a good idea to gain some experience in a health or social care setting so you can experience the demands before you dedicate three years to getting qualified.

Career Prospects

There are multiple routes up the career ladder for experienced adult nurses. With enough experience when you are ready to take on more responsibilities, you can consider a career as a senior staff nurse, charge nurse, ward sister, matron, or nurse consultant.

You could also consider more specialist roles and work in intensive care, A&E, cancer, sexual health, or occupational health departments.


NHS hospitals are far from your only option when seeking employment as an adult nurse. You can also look for roles in the community, GP surgeries, hospices, residential homes, and in specialist units and schools. It is also possible to pick up work via nursing agencies if you would rather work in multiple settings.

Experienced nurses can also train other nurses, take an active role in health education, work in health promotion, staff emergency helplines, work in occupational health, provide aid overseas, and work on cruise ships. Adult nurses are also required in private settings, voluntary organisations, the armed forces, and prisons.

To search for vacancies, use the NHS Provider Directory, or look for adult nursing positions on Health Jobs UK, BUPA UK Careers, and Circle Health Group.

Related Courses

BSc Adult Nursing

The BSc Adult Nursing degree taught by UWS at the London, Ayr, Dumfries, Paisley, and Lanarkshire campuses meets the requirements of the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) and equips graduates for a successful career as an adult nurse. During the course, you will learn plenty more than the ins and outs of nursing and the modern healthcare system; you will also learn how to demonstrate management and leadership abilities to prime you for a promotion before you enter the field as a professional and fully accredited adult nurse.

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