What Is An Auxiliary Nurse?
If you’re a compassionate individual interested in a job that helps others, then you might want to consider a role as an auxiliary nurse. Also known as a healthcare assistant, an auxiliary nurse works closely with healthcare professionals, helping to provide patients with a high standard of care.
The role can be rewarding, and candidates must be diligent, caring and eager to learn on the job. If you think that you might be a suitable applicant for an auxiliary nurse, then it’s important to understand what the role entails, the responsibilities that arise with the position, and what it takes to become one.
What does an auxiliary nurse do?
In the UK, an auxiliary nurse works as an assistant to a qualified nursing practitioner, within both the NHS and private healthcare sector. An auxiliary nurse could potentially work under a wide range of healthcare professionals, including:
- doctors and nurses
- speech and language therapists
- medical scientists in a specialist field
As the role of an auxiliary nurse is diverse, the responsibilities and duties expected to be undertaken will be dependent on the medical environment in which they are working.
Roles and responsibilities
An auxiliary nurse has an important job and will have a number of responsibilities and duties to uphold throughout the working day.
In a hospital setting, while an auxiliary nurse will report to a healthcare professional, the key responsibility is to ensure that a patient is comfortable. In a community setting, such as a residential care home or assisted living facility, many patients are incapacitated or disabled, with limited mobility, and so an auxiliary nurse will be required to conduct basic patient care. This will include:
- washing and toileting patients
- dressing patients
- feeding at meal times, as well as logging food and fluid intake for patient records
- changing bed linen
- making patients feel safe and secure in their surroundings
A more experienced auxiliary nurse may also be required to conduct minor medical procedures, including:
- monitoring blood pressure
- taking temperatures
- monitoring weight
- in some cases, administering medication to patients, however this will often be supervised by a medicator
An auxiliary nurse acting as an assistant to a therapist will have a different range of responsibilities that are dependent on the field within which they are working; this could include:
- setting up equipment for a therapy session
- ensuring that a patient is calm and prepared for a therapy session
- assisting a therapist in administering treatment
- administrative duties, including taking notes and ensuring that patient records are accurate and up to date
An auxiliary nurse working in a GP surgery or a health centre will have slightly different responsibilities, including:
- conducting health checks on patients
- ensuring medical equipment is sterilised
- restocking consulting rooms
- processing and taking lab, urine and blood samples
- undertaking healthcare promotion or health education work
An auxiliary nurse working alongside a medical scientist will also have these duties, as well as administrative responsibilities including maintaining patient records and ensuring that they are both correct and up to date.
One of the major benefits of becoming an auxiliary nurse is job security, as opportunities for auxiliary nurses in the UK are on the rise within hospitals and communities.
Becoming an auxiliary nurse is a demanding yet rewarding opportunity for those who enjoy meeting new people and maintaining relationships with patients and their families. It offers a unique opportunity to benefit the lives of those in need.
You may be offered training courses that are paid for by your employer; this is typical of a nursing home setting, and once you have passed a course they remain in-date for a number of years. This is useful to have if you decide to take a career change, or move on to a different job placement.
Another benefit of working is the opportunity it gives you for career progression. Whilst training, an applicant will work towards a Care Certificate, an initiative launched by Skills for Care, Skills for Health and Health Education England in 2015. Once a trainee has gained their Care Certificate, they can then go on to become a registered nurse. Many auxiliary nurses who choose to follow this path also join the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), which opens up even more opportunities to attend conferences to update their skills and to network within their field.
Becoming an auxiliary nurse is a fantastic opportunity for someone interested in a career within the healthcare sector that does not necessarily have a medical background.
While there are no set entry requirements, employers expect applicants to have strong levels of verbal and written communication skills. They will also expect good numeracy and literacy levels, and may ask you to provide your GCSE results in English and maths, or an equivalent qualification.
However, employers will expect auxiliary nurse candidates to have some healthcare experience, which could either be voluntary or paid work in a healthcare setting. There are also apprenticeship schemes available that would provide the basic training and experience necessary to become an auxiliary nurse.
Although a healthcare qualification is not a requirement, having an NVQ in healthcare may set candidates apart from other applicants.
In working environments in which an applicant would be working with vulnerable people, such as care homes, candidates will also be required to provide a full DBS check, however, the institution or employer often pays for this.
What it takes to become an auxiliary nurse
A role as an auxiliary nurse is fulfilling, however, it is also a physically and emotionally demanding job.
Working as an auxiliary nurse involves a lot of contact with patients, some of whom may have limited ability in communication through illness, disability or age. Therefore, it’s important to be patient, compassionate and have a good beside manner.
An auxiliary nurse has a busy working schedule, and will be required to work shift patterns, including evenings, nights and weekends depending on the area in which they specialise. In certain working environments, they may also be called upon last minute to cover shifts, either due to illness or staff shortages. As a result, they must be dedicated and reliable.
If you think that you have what it takes to become an auxiliary nurse, or want to find out more about any positions that are currently available, download the Nursco App or call 020 3954 1917 today for more information.