Key points about nurses

  • A nurse is a healthcare professional who takes care of and supports patients who are sick or injured.
  • You can see nurses in different coloured uniforms and badges in hospitals, clinics or other health centres. 
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A nurse works with people of all ages who are sick or injured. You can see nurses in different coloured uniforms and badges in hospitals, clinics or other health centres. 

In general, nurses can be classified into 3 categories based on their qualifications:

  • Enrolled nurses – they take care of and support patients. They must have completed a diploma in nursing and passed the examination for an enrolled nurse. 
  • Registered nurses – they must have completed a degree in nursing and passed the examination for a registered nurse. They can supervise enrolled nurses.
  • Nurse practitioners – they must have worked as a registered nurse for 4 years and completed a master's degree and are able to prescribe medicines. They work in a diverse range of medical settings including GP clinics, nurse practitioner-led and or owned clinics, specialty clinics, hospitals, etc. 
  • Practice nurses – are registered nurses who work with GPs in primary care practices. They need specialist training to be able to provide preventative care and treatment services to their communities, including in such things as vaccinations, cervical screening and cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

Many nurses choose to specialise in a particular field of medicine. They have had more training in certain aspects of health care, such as:

  • intensive care
  • children and young people 
  • older people
  • people with physical disabilities
  • people with mental health conditions
  • people with learning disabilities
  • emergency care
  • operating theatre.

A nurse has many roles and can help with many tasks, depending on their qualifications and where they work. These include:

  • measuring temperature, blood pressure and other vital signs
  • giving medicines and vaccines to people
  • caring for people and supporting them
  • communicating with doctors and other members of the healthcare team about patients' care
  • monitoring patients' conditions and recording changes
  • assessing, treating and supporting patients
  • performing blood tests and other investigations
  • providing advice and educating people on how to manage their conditions.

As a nurse works with a wide range of people, you can find them in hospitals, outpatient clinics, prisons, nursing homes, hospices, schools, industrial workplaces and rehab centers. 

Nurse helps older lady while walking

Image credit: Canva

A nurse has to do at least 18 months to 3 years of training at university, depending on the type of qualification (diploma or degree), and be registered with the Nursing Council of New Zealand(external link) to work in New Zealand. Find out about different training options to become a nurse on the Careers NZ website(external link)

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