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Why community nurses are key to the changing face of the health service

The world of nursing as a career offers many different avenues to specialise in and plenty of opportunities to make the most of personal interests and skill sets. The changing face of the health service as a whole means that new approaches are increasingly being called upon to meet new challenges, and this gives even more scope for nurses to choose a sector of the profession that really gives them job satisfaction.

Care in the community

The traditional settings for nursing used to revolve around major centres such as hospitals and localised environments such as health centres and GP surgeries. With the changing demographics of the country meaning people are living longer lives, community nursing has taken on a much more important role. Not only can it help people lead lives to their full potential in their own homes but community nurses can also help reduce unnecessary hospital admissions while freeing up beds for those deemed to be in greater need.

Responsibilities

Community nurses offer much more than simply helping to relieve pressure on hospitals and GP surgeries in the UK.  They specialise in 'joint care management' for wider care programmes where other professionals and care services might be involved, while they also offer patients emotional support alongside education for friends and families too.

Daily duties

Community nursing involves working in many different environments on a daily basis and these include visiting patients in their own homes. This means that many of the resources available in a hospital are not at the disposal of a community nurse, so much of the work will be dictated by the specifics of each unique situation.

Training and qualifications

A community nurse needs to be a qualified and registered nurse, and will usually have two years' worth of practical experience. There is also a requirement for additional degree level training as a 'specialist practitioner'. These courses usually last no less than one academic year, although previous experience can count towards qualification. Both full and part time courses are available, made up of practical and theoretical elements which focus on clinical nursing, care and programme management, and clinical practice development.

Looking forward

Becoming a community nurse offers a way to engage in an area that is rapidly expanding in terms of both size and importance in the overall healthcare system. This means that community nurses are at the cutting edge of contemporary healthcare strategy and can make a real difference to the lives of the many patients under their care.

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