Nurse Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

Last updated: June 22, 2022

A Nurse, or Registered Nurse, is responsible for supporting Physicians in administering patient care. Their duties include providing the correct dosage of medicine to patients, administering IVs based on their patients’ conditions and monitoring their patients’ vitals to ensure they have the proper blood pressure or heart rate.

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Nurse duties and responsibilities

Nurses are responsible for a variety of tasks, from checking a patient’s vitals to managing patient files. Some duties a Nurse might be expected to complete include:

  • Assisting Doctors or Supervisors with patients
  • Administering treatment to patients
  • Performing exams
  • Collecting and interpreting patient information
  • Contacting patients regarding tests or upcoming appointments
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What does a Nurse do?

Nurses typically work for hospitals, rehabilitation facilities, medical clinics, assisted living facilities and other medical institutions. They work closely with other Nurses and Doctors to assess patients and adjust treatment methods as needed. Their job is to conduct physical exams on patients, administer vaccines to protect against illnesses and act as a positive influence on patients and their progress. They may also be responsible for communicating with loved ones about their family member’s condition and providing educational instruction on how to change bandages or administer medication.

Nurse skills and qualifications

Nurses should have a variety of technical medical skills. A Nurse skills and qualifications list may include:

  • Ability to work on their feet for long hours
  • Proficiency in office and medical software
  • Strong communication skills
  • Ability to work calmly in high-pressure situations
  • Empathy and patience

Nurse salary expectations

Registered Nurses make an average of $32.54 per hour. The exact salary may vary depending on factors like applicant education, experience, geographical location or the type of medical setting the job is in. Nurses are typically given benefits such as health insurance, a 401(k) and paid time off.

Nurse education and training requirements

A Nurse will generally have an associate or bachelor’s degree in nursing. They may need to complete a specific training program that will assist them in their work within a particular company or organization. An applicant may need to provide information about their National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) or any nursing certificate programs they may have taken. Nurses must be registered and licensed to practice medicine in the state they’re working in, and requirements to maintain a nursing license vary by state.

Nurse experience requirements

The experience a Nurse must have depends largely on what tasks they’re expected to perform. Depending on whether or not the Nurse will be in a leadership position, some managerial or leadership experience might be required. Due to the extensive education, testing and licensing requirements that Nurses must complete, most Nurses are eligible for any entry-level nursing position.

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Frequently asked questions about Nurses


What is the difference between a Nurse and a Nurse Practitioner?

The main difference between a Nurse and a Nurse Practitioner is seniority. Nurse Practitioners have more seniority over Nurses because they hold a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). In contrast, Nurses or Registered Nurses hold a nursing degree at either the associate or bachelor’s degree levels. Because of this, Nurse Practitioners can diagnose patients, prescribe them medications and refer them to other medical professionals, much like Physicians do. In contrast, Nurses only have the authority to administer medications, vaccines or IVs under a Physician’s instructions.


What are the daily duties of a Nurse?

On a typical day, a Nurse starts by receiving their patient assignments for the day. They make rounds to each of their patients to check in with them, administer medication, assess vitals and perform other tasks like starting IV lines and giving them food. They restock supply shelves, interact with their patient’s family members and assist other Nurses in changing dressings or transferring patients to different wards. At the end of their shift, they meet with other Nurses to discuss their day, ask questions and receive work schedules or paychecks.


What qualities make a good Nurse?

A good Nurse is someone who remains calm under pressure. This quality allows them to maintain their composure when a patient’s condition begins to deteriorate and could potentially help preserve the lives of their patients. Nurses also need to have compassion and empathy, which drives their motivation to serve their patients as best they can. They should have a personable nature because it helps to make patients feel comfortable and relaxed despite the injuries or illnesses they have. 

Nurses also need to be physically fit as they work on their feet for most of their shift. They may need to help lift patients or maneuver them in stretchers or wheelchairs.


Who does a Nurse report to?

A Nurse typically reports to the Nurse Manager within their department at a hospital. The Nurse Manager oversees hiring procedures, work schedules and performance reviews. During their shift, a Nurse typically reports to a Staff Nurse for questions and instructions.

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