• 31 August 2021
  • 17 min read

What Is A Staff Nurse?

  • Ruth Clewett
    Staff Nurse
    • Richard Gill
    • Aubrey Hollebon
    • Durgesh Kumar Shukla
    • Mat Martin
  • 0
  • 872
"'Staff Nurse’ is used for adult, child, mental health, and learning disability nurses with the implication that the person is both registered with the NMC and part of the permanent staff."

Staff Nurse, Ruth, gives a comprehensive overview of the role of a Staff Nurse, detailing the main duties, career opportunities and challenges of the role.

Topics covered in this article

What Is A Staff Nurse?

Is The Term ‘Staff Nurse’ Used Differently Between NHS Trusts?

There Are Staff Nurses In All Branches - How Come?

Are Staff Nurses The Most Common Type Of Nurse?

Does Being A Staff Nurse Mean You Don’t Specialise?

What Does A Staff Nurse Do?

What Are Their Main Duties?

Which Settings Do Staff Nurses Work In?

What NHS Bands Can Staff Nurses Be?

What Kind Of Patients And Service Users Do Staff Nurses Treat?

Where Does The Staff Nurse Fit Into The Process Of Patient Care?

Are There Staff Nurse Jobs In The Private Sector?

What Are The Career Opportunities For A Staff Nurse?

A Brief History Of The Role Of A Staff Nurse

A Brief Outline Of A Day In The Life Of A Staff Nurse On A Medical Ward

What Is A Staff Nurse?

A Staff Nurse is a qualified nurse who is registered with the NMC and usually part of the care team in a hospital or nursing home.

Staff nurses make up a large part of the team on a hospital ward and manage patients’ care and recovery.

Nursing & Care Jobs at Nurses.co.uk

Progress Your Career. Search 1000s of Nursing & Care Jobs

Search Jobs

Is The Term ‘Staff Nurse’ Used Differently Between NHS Trusts?

No. The only difference may be in the duties a band 6 staff nurse has and those of a band 5 with band 6 nurses taking on more responsibility and having more experience while band 5 commonly describes newly qualified, registered nurses.

A staff nurse may also work in different medical specialities for example Orthopaedics or Neurology and therefore the skills they practice in the various areas and numerous hospital departments may differ.

There Are Staff Nurses In All Branches - How Come?

Each branch of nursing requires skilled and qualified staff as part of the team delivering care.

‘Staff Nurse’ is used for adult, child, mental health, and learning disability nurses with the implication that the person is both registered with the NMC and part of the permanent staff.

Are Staff Nurses The Most Common Type Of Nurse?

Registered nurses are very much in demand.

They make up much of the workforce in hospital ward teams and medical facilities.

Does Being A Staff Nurse Mean You Don’t Specialise?

Staff nurses often go on to specialise.

It is common for nurses to choose an area to work in initially before moving into a specialty as their career progresses.

Right from the point of choosing a degree or diploma course, a person must choose whether to work with adults, children or in mental health or learning disability nursing.

Further to this, placements as part of training often give student nurses an idea of the area they would like to work in although it may not be where they get their first posting as a staff nurse.

There is the option in some universities to earn a dual qualification for instance in adult and mental health nursing.

Some people are put off an area by their experience in placement but realistically, these temporary practice areas are just a taster!

As band 5 nurses get to grips with their first role it may become clearer to them what sort of medical speciality particularly appeals to them or patient groups they prefer to work with.

For example, someone might prefer working in the renal department or oncology unit as specialist areas or find they love working with elderly patients or people needing palliative care.

What Does A Staff Nurse Do?

A staff nurse plans and provides compassionate and competent care to patients and service users based on current evidence of best practice.

They promote health and healing through observing, and monitoring well-being, then by evaluating the effectiveness of the care provided.

They have a key role in preventing illness and injury partly through educating patients and service users.

The staff nurse is responsible for ensuring their patient’s needs are met through liaising with multidisciplinary team members including specialist nurses, doctors, physios, occupational therapists, and social workers as well as overseeing healthcare assistants, nursing associates, and students.

A staff nurse provides updates to their colleagues, family members of the patient and carers.

Sometimes it will be necessary to make referrals for specialist assessment such as mental health screening, tissue viability or smoking cessation but it is always the nurse’s job to be aware of safeguarding issues that might affect their patient’s well-being and take measures to protect them.

Each nurse is accountable for all care they give and must uphold the values of the workplace or trust as well as the requirements of the NMC code.

A big part of this involves continuous professional development (CPD) to develop the knowledge and skills required to be up to date with excellent and effective nursing practice.

A staff nurse should aspire to increase their understanding and skill.

All staff nurses must attend basic but essential update training in various areas such as manual handling practice, fire safety, and basic life support among several others.

What Are Their Main Duties?

A staff nurse is responsible for providing excellent care for their patients using knowledge and skill based on up-to-date research and developed through ongoing training.

Therefore, it is the duty of a staff nurse to learn current practices and use them to treat patients and teach colleagues.

It is necessary for nurses to take care of all their patients with kindness and to the best of their ability.

It is their duty to ensure they do not differentiate between people when providing care although this is a very challenging part of the job at times.

There can be no discrimination when it comes to quality nursing.

The staff nurse often looks after a patient’s family members in terms of updating them, answering their questions, sometimes communicating difficult news, and always demonstrating compassion.

They must work with integrity, be prepared to admit mistakes, and reflect on their own and others’ practice for learning.

On a ward the nurse works with the healthcare assistants or carers to look after patients/residents by monitoring their well-being including checking vital signs such as levels of consciousness, blood pressure, pulse, oxygen saturation, respiratory rate, and indications of pain.

The staff nurse interprets the results of these observations which are often taken by healthcare assistants, to conduct their role in diagnosing symptoms and implementing care authorised by the doctor.

---------- ---------- ---------- ---------- ----------

Do you have any questions about the role of a Staff Nurse?

Post questions & comments below

---------- ---------- ---------- ---------- ----------

The nurse links the patients with other members of their healthcare team through communicating updates and carrying out changes to medications or clinical interventions as per instructions from the medical team.

It is the staff nurse’s duty to give medications or infusions to their patients as prescribed.

These will be regular prescription medications, and some ordered by the doctor at the time for example IV antibiotics, fluids, and blood.

Staff nurses assess newly admitted patients and obtain samples such as urine, blood, and faeces.

They also obtain swabs for testing potential infection sites and perform tasks such as catheterisation, administering enemas or running diagnostic tests for example ECGs and ultrasounds.

When people are admitted to the ward or home is an essential nursing duty to assess pressure areas and take care to prevent pressure sores developing.

Nurses take care of wounds and dressings to promote healing and manage their patient’s pain.

In all tasks, nurses must play their part in infection control by using appropriate techniques in all their procedures which prevent infections developing or spreading.

As infection control is such an important part of healthcare, it is vital that all members of the team guide each other in good practice.

Post registration, nurses in the UK must revalidate with the NMC every three years.

To prepare, it is important throughout the 3-year period to take opportunities to study, receive feedback and reflect continuously with other nurses to remain safe and abreast of current practice.

This work becomes part of a portfolio for nurses to revalidate their registration. It is the staff nurses’ responsibility to uphold this requirement.

Which Settings Do Staff Nurses Work In?

Staff nurses can be found working in wards, theatres, and outpatients as part of the team at hospitals (both NHS and in the private sector), in nursing homes, hospices, or clinics (for example Sexual Health, Fertility, or Dermatology).

They can also work in treatment centres such as for people living with HIV needing regular treatment and care or providers of Addiction Services.

What NHS Bands Can Staff Nurses Be?

The term ‘staff nurse’ usually refers to NHS band 5 or 6 with the latter being a Senior Staff Nurse and more experienced.

As nurses progress in terms of their banding they are referred to by their grade or band such as charge nurse, sister, or band 7 or 8.

They may still have an allocation of patients and perform duties of a staff nurse but have more responsibility and experience.

What Kind Of Patients And Service Users Do Staff Nurses Treat?

A huge variety!

Some examples of the broad spectrum: those with acute and chronic illness, injury, or physical disability.

People of all ages from children to the elderly.

They look after patients needing palliative care, those with mental health issues, patients with learning difficulties, family members, carers, friends.

Inpatient and outpatients from all different backgrounds.

Where Does The Staff Nurse Fit Into The Process Of Patient Care?

Staff nurses are the link between doctors and patients in many ways.

They work as part of a team although they are the managers of their patient’s care.

One of the first caregivers that the patient will meet upon admission is their staff nurse who usually remains their primary advocate throughout the duration of their treatment.

Staff nurses receive patients to the ward and ensure everything is ready for their discharge.

Are There Staff Nurse Jobs In The Private Sector?

Yes, in private hospitals, nursing homes, hospices, treatment centres and clinics.

What Are The Career Opportunities For A Staff Nurse?

One of the fantastic things about nursing is the potential for career advancement, the vast number of options available for moving around and the variety a nurse can experience throughout their career.

One of the first opportunities for development that a staff nurse can pursue is in becoming a mentor to student nurses.

A band 6 nurse can take on responsibilities such as deputising as charge nurse or becoming a preceptor to support the practice of newly qualified nurses.

From here, there are numerous avenues for career progression.

As a staff nurse continues to develop management skills, they may want to continue in hospital nursing and work toward managing a ward or working in nursing education.

After gaining experience, a staff nurse might consider changing field to another area such as General Practice nursing, Learning Disability nursing or becoming a Clinical Nurse Specialist in a particular department for example heart failure, diabetes, lung cancer, critical care to name just a few out of the 200 plus specialities to choose from.

There are also a variety of work opportunities for nurses outside the hospital such as in the army, in prisons, on cruise ships, and in legal consultancy.

A Brief History Of The Role Of A Staff Nurse

Prior to changes during the mid- late nineteenth century, the role of staff nurse as we know it today did not exist since ill or injured folk were looked after at home by female family members or servants.

With the discovery of anaesthetic and advanced medical techniques, lower classes became able to receive treatment in hospital.

Nursing became more established as time went on.

Florence Nightingale (commonly thought of as the pioneer of modern nursing) took a team of 38 nurses to Turkey in 1854 where they treat soldiers in a hospital of the British Army during the Crimean war.

There she managed a clean-up operation of the state of the hospital (which had previously been highly unsanitary) and lowered the hospital case fatality rate by around 30%.

Florence Nightingale used her mathematical skills and recent experience in the war hospital to contribute greatly to health data when she returned to the UK and gave much to the nursing world through her writing and speaking.

In 1855 Mary Seacole self-funded a trip to help the Crimean War soldiers because the government refused to send her as a war nurse.

There in Balaclava she set up The British Hotel for the wounded to convalesce. Following the efforts of Nightingale and Seacole, nursing schools at hospitals such as St Thomas’ (The Nightingale School, 1860) and St Bart’s (School of Nursing, 1877) began teaching nursing as a formal profession.

This led to nurses seeking registration as professionals and owing to the efforts of Ethel Fenwick and her relentless campaigning for registration of nurses, the Royal British Nurses Association formed in 1887.

At this point nurses received lectures and training in clinical skills in exchange for working for free.

This is much like a student nurse’s training today whereby students attend medical lectures and simulated practice of clinical skills at university, which is complimented by working on placement in hospitals, hospices, GP surgeries, nursing homes, clinics and in the community.

World War 1 saw 10,500 nurses enrol in the Queen Alexandria Imperial Nursing Service, and in 1916 the Royal College of nursing was founded.

1919 saw the Nurses’ registration act passed which enabled the regulation of nurses and brought a consistency to the level of training expected in a registered nurse.

The General Nursing Council for England and Wales published its first register in September 1922 with Ethel Fenwick being ‘state registered nurse number one’.

Interesting fact-Florence Nightingale had opposed the register feeling it was not inclusive to those women who had less opportunity to study but still had valuable contributions to make to the profession i.e., working class women.

She was inclined to promote the clinical competence and expertise of nurses rather than focus on raising their social status.

It was not until 1951 that male nurses were allowed to join register.

There was a general register for women, with supplementary parts for male, mental, children’s and fever nurses.

A Brief Outline Of A Day In The Life Of A Staff Nurse On A Medical Ward

The routine of a staff nurse’s day really varies depending on where they are working however there are some commonalities no matter the ward such as handover at the start and end of the shift.

Typically, on the ward of a hospital, a staff nurse will arrive before 7am, change into uniform, and prepare for handover from the night team.

The workday or night shifts are usually 12 hours long although there can be some flexibility depending on the unit or ward.

There are many tasks to complete and things to attend to throughout a day shift with nights being somewhat quieter as there is less activity generally.

In addition, many of the nursing tasks are done during the day when the necessary departments are open such as test or scan areas, porters, outpatients, or community input.

Is obviously important to encourage the patients to sleep at night if possible!

Family members are also contacted during the day of course and visitors do not come at night so all-in all, a night shift is quieter.

Nurses still have jobs to do at night so no matter the shift, breaks are an essential part for all staff and need to be managed into the schedule.

Following a general handover as a team where patients at particular risk and potential admissions and discharges are highlighted, the ward manager or sister in charge will allocate patients to the staff nurses and healthcare assistants.

A second handover is given from the night nurse to day nurse with more specific information about the group of patients being looked after.

This is more to do with any changes to vital statistics overnight, interventions such as pain control and any other medicines given.

The dayshift is usually started with a drug round, and this coincides with breakfast providing a perfect opportunity for the nurse to introduce themselves to their patients and get an idea of how they are.

This practice differs in various workplace settings, but nurses and healthcare assistants support the patients or residents to get washed and dressed.

At this point the beds may be changed.

When the doctors come to the ward to see their patients the staff nurse will try to be there for the assessment and conversation with the patient however as the doctor documents a summary of what they discuss the nurse will check the patients’ medical notes to see what each practitioner has put to know the patient assessment and plan for discharge.

In places such as nursing homes, the staff nurse is likely to be the person speaking with the GP communicating the well-being of their patients over the phone.

In some homes the GP comes to the ward or home weekly or whenever there is a patient in need of a doctor’s assessment.

The nurse will give the GP an account of the well-being of each patient the doctor oversees.

The staff nurse must update the patient’s notes as often as possible (sometimes this is done at the end of the shift) with patient’s well-being, care given during the day, interventions performed and those that are planned.

Communications that have taken place with the family members and multi-disciplinary team are important here too.

Throughout the day the staff nurse will work with the other staff nurses and healthcare assistants on the ward to manage patients care involving tasks such as washing, changing, or turning immobile patients to avoid pressure sores, assisting patients to the toilet when required, helping distribute meals and assisting with feeding or encouraging eating and drinking.

At the end of the shift the staff nurse prepares for handover to night staff and updates the general handover sheet.

At the end of the day the staff nurse goes home to put their feet up!

---------- ---------- ---------- ---------- ----------

Do you have any questions about the role of a Staff Nurse?

Post questions & comments below

---------- ---------- ---------- ---------- ----------

About the author

  • Ruth Clewett
    Staff Nurse

I am a registered adult nurse usually working either privately or as a staff nurse. I live in Hove with a lovely family from my church including 7 cats and 2 dogs. We live close to the sea and can often be found in the water swimming (despite the cold!) I highly recommend it for mental and physical health. For the past five months I have been undergoing chemo and look forward to completing this so I can go back to working as a nurse.

See all of our RGN jobs

6790 jobs currently available

Search Jobs

Care Professionals Helping One Another

We pay people like you to contribute, so that everyone can share. Learn & never miss out on updates & career advice. Join to support our mission.

  • Ruth Clewett
    Staff Nurse

About the author

  • Ruth Clewett
    Staff Nurse

I am a registered adult nurse usually working either privately or as a staff nurse. I live in Hove with a lovely family from my church including 7 cats and 2 dogs. We live close to the sea and can often be found in the water swimming (despite the cold!) I highly recommend it for mental and physical health. For the past five months I have been undergoing chemo and look forward to completing this so I can go back to working as a nurse.

  • 0 Comments
Want to get involved in the discussion
Sign In Join