District nurses are just one of the types of nurses who work in the community, rather than in a hospital. As a district nurse, you may work in many different locations around the community, but your time will be spent mainly in people’s own homes.
A typical day might start at 8.30am when you drive to a residential care home in your area. Your first task is to test the blood of a resident with diabetes and inject him with insulin. You then treat another resident with a minor head injury, checking the wound for infection and applying the appropriate dressing.
For your next visit, you drive to the home of an elderly, disabled woman with asthma and mild hearing difficulties. You ask her how she is feeling, check her breathing and pulse rate, and gently syringe her ears. When you leave the house, your patient is feeling comfortable, and pleased to be able to hear better than before your visit.
Your day continues as you visit other housebound patients and carry out the necessary nursing activities. You enjoy working in the community, and providing vital care to vulnerable people, some of whom would need to be in a care home or hospital if there were no district nurses.
You’re well organised, confident and able to take responsibility in difficult situations. You’re also very resourceful and like the idea of working in the community, and in particular, in people’s homes.
You’ll need to do a degree level qualification to be a nurse so will usually need a minimum of five GCSEs (typically including maths, English language or literature and a science subject) at grades 5/4 (C) or above or equivalent level 2 qualification, then go on to take at least two A-Levels (eg including a subject like human biology, psychology or sociology) or equivalent level 3 qualification such as a BTEC or apprenticeship.
After A-Levels, you’ll need to go to university to do an approved full-time degree in nursing or apply for a nursing degree apprenticeship. For their full-time degrees, some universities may ask for three A-Levels and have specific subject requirements, so make sure you check with the uni you’re interested in directly.
Nursing degree apprenticeships are available in some parts of the country, and you’ll usually need the same level of GCSEs and A-Levels or equivalent qualifications. To work as a district nurse, you would also then need to complete a specialist programme in district nursing.