Auxiliary nurses work in the United Kingdom and are employed through the National Health Service (NHS) or through private health care institutions. The role of an auxiliary nurse is to assist qualified nursing practitioners in administering care to patients. Auxiliary nurses are often referred to as health assistants. Auxiliary nurses require no academic qualifications, and the role can serve as a pathway into a career as a registered nurse.
The main responsibility of an auxiliary nurse is to ensure patients are kept as comfortable as possible. An auxiliary nurse washes and dresses incapacitated patients, feeds patients at meal times and helps those who have difficulty walking to get around. Auxiliary nurses also help the elderly and disabled with toileting. An auxiliary nurse is also assigned to assess patients’ health condition by taking temperatures, measuring weight and assessing respiration levels. An auxiliary nurse also performs minor medical procedures and assesses blood pressure levels. She will also make patient’s beds, change their sheets when required and assist with the general upkeep of the ward, as stated on Connexions Direct.
Auxiliary nurses also work alongside health care scientists, assisting them in the identification and treatment of a range of diseases. Some work with audiologists, for instance, and help qualified scientists to research hearing disorders and develop effective coping strategies for patients. Auxiliary nurses also help health care scientists with the analysis of blood and urine samples and patient histories.
Auxiliary nurses also perform clinical support roles under the supervision of health care professionals including physiotherapists, nutritionists, pediatricians and speech and language therapists. Duties vary widely depending on the form of therapy administered. Nurses may have to help patients mentally prepare for therapy sessions or set up equipment required for a session. They may also play a more proactive role and assist the therapist in actual treatment. Auxiliary nurses in this role play a key administrative duty, taking notes and keeping accurate records of patients’ medical histories. When performing these duties, auxiliary nurses are sometimes referred to as assistant therapists or therapist helpers.
Auxiliary nurses in health care scientist roles typically work standard hours and shift patterns, with some evening and weekend work required, depending on their area of specialization. Part-time and flexible shift patterns tends to be more available in scientific research roles, as reported on NHS Careers.
Most auxiliary nursing roles are in the United Kingdom, but they are sometimes found in countries formerly under British rule, such as Canada and India. The average auxiliary nurse salary as of April 2010 was approximately $23,146 (15,950 pounds), as reported on Salary Track.