Staff Nurse Job Description (With Responsibilities)

Updated 4 June 2023

Staff nurses, or registered nurses, provide primary nursing care and support to patients and guide and direct junior nurses under their supervision. The job scope may vary depending on the health care facility and ward or department they work in. Learning what the role of a staff nurse entails and understanding what employers expect in candidates can help you prepare your job application. In this article, we outline a staff nurse job description, share the duties and responsibilities of the role and describe the skills you require for this position.

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Staff nurse job description

A staff nurse job description outlines the duties and responsibilities of this role, providing candidates with a clear understanding of what the job entails. It also describes what the employer requires in an ideal candidate, such as educational qualifications, relevant work experience and skills. It may include the number of workdays and rotating shifts per week. Staff nurses typically work in hospitals, polyclinics or other health care facilities.

Reviewing an employer's requirements can help you determine if you have sufficient experience and qualifications to apply. You can then highlight them in your resume and cover letter to show the hiring manager that you've understood the demands of the role and are able to fulfil them.

Related: Nurse Leader vs Nurse Manager (With Roles and Differences)

Responsibilities of a staff nurse

Here are some of the responsibilities of a staff nurse:

Monitor patients

Staff nurses monitor a patient's condition closely for any signs of improvement or deterioration. They observe and interpret their symptoms and convey these observations to doctors. They give the best care and advice based on their assessment of the patients' needs. Staff nurses also provide immediate medical care in emergencies or crisis situations. This may involve performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation on patients.

Related: What Does an Emergency Nurse Do? (Duties and Requirements)

Oversee admission, transfer and discharge of patients

When a health care facility admits, transfers or discharges a patient, it follows certain procedures. Staff nurses confirm that someone has completed all the necessary paperwork. In the case of a transfer, they make sure that the ward receiving the patient has up-to-date and accurate information about the patient's condition. Staff nurses also inspect the facilities to make sure that there's excellent hygiene and safety. They verify that staff have decontaminated equipment, sanitised surfaces and prepared the beds before the arrival of new patients.

Administer medication

Staff nurses check what medication patients require and administer it to them according to the doctor's instructions. They have expertise in the different ways to administer medication, for example, through intravenous or subcutaneous injections, oral administration or inhalation. They also perform routine procedures, such as measuring blood pressure and glucose levels.

Collaborate with other medical staff

Staff nurses communicate and discuss a patient's progress and response to treatment with doctors, other nurses and the relevant allied health personnel responsible for the patient's care. They collaborate with these medical team members to create individualised care plans for patients. Staff nurses also facilitate the transition of care coordination within and between teams and across settings.

Educate patients and family members

Staff nurses provide patients and their families with information about disease prevention and rehabilitation techniques. This helps caregivers provide adequate care for patients. Staff nurses may also ensure continuity of patient care and treatment plans through follow-ups after discharge.

Supervise junior nurses

As they hold a senior position and have a significant amount of experience, staff nurses supervise and guide nursing students and newly qualified nurses. They may demonstrate how to operate certain equipment, administer injections and move patients with limited mobility. Staff nurses also provide constructive feedback on the clinical performance of nursing students and new staff.

Related: What Does a Nurse Manager Do? Responsibilities and Skills

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Requirements to become a staff nurse

Here are the typical requirements employers include in a staff nurse job description:


To become a registered nurse, it's necessary to have a diploma or degree in nursing from a recognised training institution that has approval from the Singapore Nursing Board (SNB). A diploma typically takes three years to complete, while earning a bachelor's degree can take between three and four years. Students usually complete an internship at a health care facility as part of the graduation requirements.

Related: 11 Jobs for Nursing Degree Holders (With Types and Examples)


Employers may prefer to hire nurses who have experience in a specific type of ward or department. For example, they may require candidates to have a minimum of two years of experience in the emergency department, intensive care unit (ICU) or geriatric care. Having relevant experience and training helps you to perform your duties effectively, as you're familiar with managing certain groups of patients, such as those who've suffered strokes or heart attacks or undergone invasive surgery. You may also be more experienced in operating certain equipment and performing particular procedures, such as inserting nasogastric tubes in infants.

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Registration with the SNB

It's necessary for candidates to be on the SNB register to gain employment as a registered nurse. Ensure you apply for registration within five years of completing your nursing programme. Otherwise, it's mandatory for you to attend a Return-to-Nursing Programme before the SNB can consider you for registration. Registering with the SNB entails sitting for and passing the Registered Nurse Licensure Examination. Upon passing the examination, you can apply for the SNB Practising Certificate. It's necessary to renew this certificate every year for it to be valid.

Related: How to Become a Registered Nurse: Useful Skills and Tips


Apart from the SNB Practising Certificate, employers may require registered nurses to possess additional certifications for particular roles. For example, for a position in an ICU, the employer may specify that it's necessary for candidates to have the Basic Cardiac Life Support and Automated External Defibrillator certifications. Another certification that employers may value is the Life Support Course for Nurses. This programme equips nurses with the knowledge and skills to handle patients who are experiencing cardiac arrest and to treat patients with ischaemic heart disease and cardiac arrhythmias.

Related: What You Need to Know about Nursing Careers in Singapore

Ability to work shifts

It's common for nurses to work rotating shifts, as patients require continuous care all day and night. This means that they may work the day shift for one or two weeks and then switch to working the night shift for the next one or two weeks. Employers may state that it's necessary for candidates to be able and willing to work on two or three rotating shifts.

Related: Nurse Practitioner vs Nurse: Differences and Career Tips


Here are some skills and qualities that staff nurses possess:

  • Clinical skills: Clinical skills are abilities nurses use when assessing, diagnosing and caring for patients. They require these skills to perform tasks, such as starting intravenous drips, inserting catheters and performing blood transfusions.

  • Interpersonal communication skills: Strong interpersonal communication skills enable staff nurses to work effectively with doctors, nurses and other health care personnel to create treatment plans and discuss the condition of patients. They also require these skills to understand the needs of patients and convey important information about their health situation and treatment plans.

  • Empathy: Empathy entails seeing and understanding another person's point of view without judgement. Having this skill allows you to help patients feel less anxious and afraid and to comfort family members.

  • Leadership: Strong leadership skills enable staff nurses to delegate tasks and guide junior nurses and nursing students to perform their duties properly. These skills are also essential when you're handling emergencies, meaning you can act quickly and instruct your team of nurses to perform certain tasks to save the lives of patients.

  • Physical strength and stamina: Nurses typically work long shifts and stand continuously for extended periods. As you may also perform strenuous tasks, such as moving patients or heavy equipment, having physical strength and stamina enables you to perform your duties well.

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