Nursing Roles and Responsibilities: A Complete Guide

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 26 June 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

If you have an interest in the healthcare sector and want to work closely with patients, you can consider a career as a nurse. As you can make a real difference in patients' lives, it is one of the most fulfilling careers. With the right set of educational qualifications, experience and skills, you can focus on a particular department, such as paediatrics and senior care. In this article, we discuss the various nursing roles and responsibilities and explore the qualifications and skills required to become a nurse.

Nursing roles and responsibilities

Whether you decide to become a paediatric, ICU or a registered nurse, your workday may involve these nursing roles and responsibilities:

Nursing roles

Depending upon your education and experience, you can have different roles and work in a variety of environment, including:

  • Hospitals: the kind of work you do in a hospital largely depends upon your specialisation. For example, a cardiac nurse works in the cardiology department and may perform stress test and monitor heart-related vital signs.

  • Physician's clinics: in such a work environment, your job will be to help physicians by processing lab tests, assisting in minor procedures, administering medicines and vaccinations and maintaining patient records. Such a role is usually a nine-to-five job.

  • Outpatient medical facility: in this type of work, you are responsible for changing dressings, monitoring vital signs and administering medicines. You also supply the required surgical tools and equipment to doctors during medical check-ups and minor surgeries.

  • Rehabilitation facilities: in rehabilitation centres, you will primarily take care of people recovering from injuries and chronic conditions like rheumatoid arthritis. You may also need to provide patients with physical therapy to help improve their mobility and flexibility, reduce pain and increase strength.

  • Home setting: in this setting, you travel to a patient's home to administer medicines, monitor their progress and check their vital signs. Usually, senior citizens and people with disabilities hire you for nursing services at home.

Nursing responsibilities

Some major job responsibilities of a nurse include:

  • Maintaining care for all patients during their shift

  • Recognising the change in a patient's health conditions and responding appropriately

  • Recording and monitoring a patient's vital signs

  • Promoting well-being by educating patients on self-care techniques

  • Consulting with doctors and other medical staff to determine the optimal treatment plan

  • Administering over-the-counter and non-intravenous medications

  • Changing dressings of the wounds

  • Nurturing a compassionate environment by providing emotional and psychological support to the patient and their family members

  • Operating medical equipment with accuracy

Qualifications required to become a nurse

After completing your higher secondary education (10+2), choose a career path depending on the type of nurse you want to become. You need to fulfil the qualification requirements laid by the Indian Nursing Council (INC) to start your career in nursing. Here are the primary qualifications required to become a nurse:


There are three different educational paths to become a nurse. Depending on your higher secondary subjects, time and budget for nursing education, you can choose one of these three paths:

1. Bachelor's degree

The B.Sc Nursing is a four-year undergraduate program that focuses on the foundation of nursing. The curriculum usually comprises health science, pathology, microbiology, forensic technology, clinical trials and internships. For pursuing a bachelor's degree, you must study Physics, Chemistry and Biology (PCB) and English in your higher secondary.

2. General Nursing and Midwifery (GNM)

It is an undergraduate level diploma recognised by the INC. The duration of GNM is three years and six months. It is an ideal option if you want to pursue a career in clinical nursing. The diploma primarily focuses on teaching how to care for patients who are sick or injured. For pursuing a GNM diploma, you must study Physics, Chemistry and Biology (PCB) and English in your higher secondary.

3. Auxiliary Nursing and Midwifery (ANM)

It is a two-year undergraduate diploma recognised by the INC. The course duration involves six months of internship. This diploma offers basic education in areas like health care, midwifery and other nursing specialities. For pursuing an ANM diploma, you need to pass your higher secondary in either the Science or the Arts stream.

You may have to clear an entrance test before you can pursue any of the above undergraduate courses. Different universities and colleges may conduct their separate entrance examination. Most of these examinations take place once a year.


To get a licence, register with your respective State Nursing Registration Council. If you have a bachelor's degree, you can register as a Registered Nurse (RN). But if you have a GNM diploma, register as a Registered Nurse Registered Midwife (RNRM) and if you have an ANM diploma, register as an ANM with the state council.


For getting a job as a nurse in a medical facility, you may need to undergo further training apart from the internships you will complete in your undergraduate course. The training allows you to perform any tasks or documented procedures as per the organisation's preference. The training usually takes between 3-6 months before you can take care of the patients without supervision and direction.

Average salary of a nurse

Often, nurses are full-time employees, but they may also work part-time as needed. The national average salary is ₹2,52,603 per year. However, the salary may vary depending on your speciality, education, work experience and geographical location.

Nurses in some cities earn a higher salary. Some of the top-paying cities for this profession are:

  • Delhi: ₹3,36,587 per year

  • Bengaluru: ₹3,19,371 per year

  • Rajasthan: ₹2,92,802 per year

  • Noida: ₹2,74,571 per year

  • Gurgaon: ₹2,62,646 per year

  • Hyderabad: ₹2,61,078 per year

  • Chandigarh: ₹2,59,437 per year

  • Pune: ₹2,33,115 per year

Related: Salary Negotiation Tips and Examples

Skills of a nurse

A nurse requires both hard and soft skills to support patients through operations, develop treatment plans and offer advice on outpatient care. Here are some skills you should master:

Hard skills

Here are some hard skills a nurse should possess:

  • Patient assessment: they should know how to monitor a patient's temperature, heart rate, blood pressure and respiration rate. These vital signs can help them determine the treatment protocols to follow, track whether the patient is showing improvement and provide critical information to save a patient's life.

  • Patient care: it involves the ability to understand and respond to medical issues a patient is experiencing. One example of patient care is the ability to dress wounds appropriately.

  • Patient education: this involves the ability to educate the patient and their family members on how to take care of their health upon discharge. These caregivers also educate the patient's family on important diagnosis and course of treatment.

  • Technology skills: many medical facilities use electronic medical record systems as an alternative to the patient's medical chart. This means that a caregiver should know how to use the latest technology to record and maintain a patient's health history.

Related: Technical Skills: Definitions and Examples

Soft skills

Here are some of the soft skills a nurse should possess:

  • Critical thinking: being able to think quickly can help them assess the patient's medical situation and determine the best action to provide optimal care. For example, using their critical thinking skills, they can determine when a patient may require emergency medical care.

  • Communication: they have to talk directly with doctors, patients and their family members. They should accurately communicate the patient's condition to the doctor and empathetically describe a patient's health conditions to their family members. Effective communication in a nursing role needs a combination of speaking, active listening, empathising and observing.

  • Time management: the ability to organise and prioritise tasks is an essential skill that helps a caregiver complete their daily job responsibilities.

  • Patience: as they work in a dynamic environment, they may come across patients who are difficult to deal with. They should display an excellent level of patience to take care of their patients without feeling frustrated.

Related: Soft Skills: Definitions and Examples

Nurse job description example

Subhash Chandra Hospital is looking to hire dedicated nursing staff to provide specialised healthcare services to our cardiology department. Our ideal candidate should have registration with the State Nursing Registration Council and should possess a B.Sc. in Nursing or related fields from an institute recognised by the INC. The successful candidate will be responsible for delegating rounds, administering medicines and managing care for all patients in the cardiology department. We are looking for a competent professional with excellent critical thinking and communication skills. We prefer someone who values security, safety and patient wellness above everything. At Subhash Chandra Hospital, we strive to provide excellent care while ensuring patient satisfaction in every interaction. Our hospital focuses on providing an empathetic environment and we require our staff to reflect the same values while performing their day-to-day activities.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article is affiliated with Indeed.

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