General Nurse Job Description

The term “general nurse” is commonly used in Britain and some other countries. The duties and educational background required for the position are similar to those of registered nurses in the United States. Both are healthcare professionals who provide services to people at places such as hospitals, physicians’ offices, and schools. At medical facilities that are open continuously, these nurses may work shifts that cover evenings, weekends, and holidays. On some days when they aren’t scheduled to work, they may have to be on call to come in quickly if situations arise where their skills are needed.


General Nurse Duties and Responsibilities

In comparison to nurses who concentrate on one specific type of medical care, general nurses provide a broader range of services to a more diverse group of patients. A look at job postings reveals the following as some of the most common tasks expected of them:


General nurses are among the first professionals encountered at healthcare facilities. They may ask about symptoms and take vital signs. Information obtained helps them judge the severity of the problem and how quickly other medical attention is needed.


Doctors may ask general nurses to perform certain procedures, such as drawing blood, giving a shot, administering medicine, or cleaning out a wound.


Recording information on medical charts can be part of a general nurse’s duties, as can analyzing this data to look at changes over time. In hospitals and other care facilities, general nurses may stop in to see patients on a routine basis to evaluate their condition and answer questions.


General nurses often act as healthcare teachers. They may help patients better understand their diagnoses and teach them skills such as how to administer their medication or how to improve their diet. As situations dictate, they may talk with people about disease prevention, exercise, smoking cessation, nutrition, safe sex, and other pertinent topics.


General Nurse Skills and Qualifications

If you truly enjoy being around people and making a difference in their lives, becoming a general nurse might be a great career move. Your patience, empathy, and positive attitude go a long way toward improving experiences during trying times. Other great skills to possess for this job include:

  • Communication skills – listening carefully to concerns and conveying information in ways that patients can clearly understand leads to accurate assessment and better results
  • Physical requirements – general nurses spend a great deal of time on their feet and may be required to help patients move around or get onto exam tables
  • Knowledge of equipment – operating various medical devices accurately and safely leads to successful outcomes
  • Collaboration – as part of a healthcare team, the ability to work well with others is vital
  • Multitasking – the duties general nurses take on are often managed simultaneously throughout a shift, which means they must be able to prioritize tasks


General Nurse Education and Training

According to Collins English Dictionary, the British definition of a registered general nurse is “a nurse who has completed a three-year training course in all aspects of nursing care to enable him or her to be registered with the United Kingdom Central Council for Nursing, Midwifery, and Health Visiting.”

In the United States, registered nurses typically go to college to obtain an associate’s degree (two-three years) or a bachelor’s (four years) in nursing. They receive classroom instruction in fields such as anatomy, nutrition, and physical and behavioral sciences. Hands-on experience is a central part of their educational program.

Registered nurses in the US must have a nursing license. Getting one involves graduating from an approved nursing program and passing the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN). Other requirements vary by state.

To keep skills sharp and learn about new procedures, nurses often take additional classes and seminars throughout their careers. They also may need to update credentials such as their CPR certification from time to time.


General Nurse Salary and Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage for registered nurses in the United States is $68,450. Registered nurses in the 10th percentile earn around $47,000, while the highest paid make more than $102,000. Full-time nurses often receive benefits such as insurance, a retirement plan, and vacation days.

The BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook states that there were 2,995,200 registered nurses employed in the United States in 2016. This figure is expected to rise to 3,393,200 by 2026 – a jump of 15 percent. Much of this need can be attributed to the aging of baby boomers, who will increasingly need healthcare services in the years ahead.

General nurses in England are part of the Agenda for Change pay rate system.


General Nurse Helpful Resources

Becoming a general nurse can be a rewarding experience. If you feel called to this profession, take a look at these other sources of information:

General Practice Nursing – This video put out by Health Education England offers a glimpse into the daily life of a general nurse.

A Career in Nursing: Is It Right for Me? – Explore everything from choosing a nursing school to landing your first job in this comprehensive guide.

Registered General Nurse Network UK – This LinkedIn group provides a platform for general nurses to share information and discuss new job opportunities.

American Nurses Association – This group dedicated to advancing both the state of

healthcare and the nursing profession can be a good place to turn to with questions about the industry and the differences between different types of nurses.

National Council of State Boards of Nursing – This non-profit’s website covers the specifics of obtaining a nursing license in the United States.


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