Adult Nurse Career Profile

The Work

Adult nurses assess, plan and provide care to patients (aged 18 and over) who are ill, injured or have physical disabilities.
They observe and evaluate patients' progress and adapt the care they give in consultation with doctors. They may also counsel
patients and their relatives.

As an adult nurse, the practical care you give could include:

  • checking temperatures
  • measuring blood pressure and respiration rates
  • helping doctors with physical examinations
  • giving drugs and injections
  • cleaning and dressing wounds
  • administering blood transfusions and drips
  • using hi-tech medical equipment.

You could specialise in an area such as accident and emergency, cardiac rehabilitation, outpatients, neonatal nursing, and operating theatre work. As well as hospitals, you could also work in the community, in 'walk-in' health centres, clinics or prisons.


You would usually work 37.5 hours a week, which can include evenings, weekends, night shifts and bank holidays. Many hospitals offer flexible hours or part-time work. Extra hours may also be available. You could work in a variety of settings including hospital wards, hospices, schools, private hospitals, and in the community visiting patients at home.


Nurses can earn between £20,700 and £26,800 a year.
Nurse team leaders and managers can earn around £33,000 to £39,300.
Nurse consultants can earn up to £65,600.
Extra allowances may be paid to those living in or around London.
Figures are intended as a guideline only.

Skills and Knowledge

  • strong communication and listening skills
  • a genuine desire to help people
  • a non-judgemental attitude to care
  • good teamworking skills and the ability to work on your own initiative
  • physical and mental stamina
  • a mature, compassionate and sensitive manner
  • good practical skills
  • patience and empathy
  • the ability to inspire confidence and trust
  • the ability to remain calm under pressure
  • good organisational and time management skills
  • a flexible approach to work.


You will find most jobs in the NHS. You could also work with private hospitals and nursing homes, schools and colleges, HM Forces, the prison service and in industry.

With experience you could progress to sister, ward manager or team leader with responsibility for running a ward or a team of nurses in the community. You could go on to other management roles, such as a matron or director of nursing.

As a qualified adult nurse, you could train in another branch (child, learning disability or mental health) by completing a ‘second registration’ course (these take around one year and you will usually need evidence of recent study and financial support from your employer). Alternatively, you could go on to train as a midwife, neonatal nurse, health visitor, district or practice nurse. You could also find opportunities for self-employment or overseas work.