What Does a Clinical Nurse Do? (With Salaries and Skills)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 8 November 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.

Becoming a clinical nurse can be an excellent way to apply your natural leadership skills and share your passion for health care. Clinical nurses specialise and grow their knowledge in various fields of nursing and health care. Learning about what clinical nurses do and the areas they specialise in can help you decide if this is the right career path for you. In this article, we discuss what does a clinical nurse do and specialise in, how much they earn on average, which skills they possess and what are the steps to take to become a clinical nurse.

What does a clinical nurse do?

If you're wondering what does a clinical nurse do, it's important to learn about their primary duties. Their main responsibilities are to manage and educate other nurses and health practitioners, communicate with and provide diagnosis and treatments for patients and conduct research on health care topics. Other responsibilities include:

  • assessing and providing clinical expertise for health risks and medical emergencies

  • applying theories and knowledge of nursing and therapeutic techniques to diagnose and treat patients

  • coordinating with other health care providers, patients, family members and the public to prevent illnesses and promote health awareness

  • mentoring and educating nurses within their place of employment

  • supervising other nurses and ancillary health care employees

  • implementing education and informational programmes and activities related to health care

  • collecting data from patients and medical records to improve health care services

  • conducting research and writing academic reports or creating presentations about research findings

  • allocating employer's resources, including nursing staff and funding

Related: What Does Nurse Do? Understanding the Role of a Nurse in Healthcare

What is a clinical nurse?

A clinical nurse, sometimes called a clinical nurse specialist, is a highly educated and trained nurse practitioner who specialises in a specific practice area. They are also registered and certified nurses of the Nursing Council of Hong Kong. There are a variety of specialisations that clinical nurses can consider pursuing, including:

  • emergency care

  • infection control

  • gynaecology

  • mental health

  • oncology

  • orthopaedic

  • paediatric

  • surgical

  • education and research

  • hospital management

Average salary of a clinical nurse

While the average salary of a registered clinical nurse is $32,185 per month, your average salary can depend on many factors, such as your level of education, years of experience, employer and specialisation. More experienced clinical nurses and those with advanced credentials such as master's degrees and high-level certifications may earn more than the average salary for their role. Consider further education and improving your qualifications to boost your career progression and increase your earning potential.

How to become a clinical nurse

A bachelor's and a master's degree in nursing and practical nursing experience are usually required to become a clinical nurse. Follow these steps to become a clinical nurse:

1. Gain a bachelor's degree in nursing

The first step in becoming a clinical nurse is to pursue a bachelor's degree in nursing. There are several universities and institutions that offer certificates, diplomas and bachelor's degree programmes in nursing. A bachelor's degree programme in nursing usually requires five years of studying. These degree programmes teach theories and principles of biological, social, behavioural and clinical sciences and equip students with hands-on clinical experience in the form of a practicum. They also support and prepare students to register as registered nurses with the Nursing Council of Hong Kong.

2. Complete a clinical practicum

As part of your bachelor's degree programme, you are required to participate in and complete a clinical practicum in your second, third or fourth year of studies. During your practicum, you may get the chance to practice as a clinical nurse in different organisations such as:

  • specialised departments in government and private hospitals

  • government outpatient clinics

  • community centres

  • non-profit organisations

  • old-aged homes

Taking part in and completing a clinical practicum is a necessary step to becoming a registered clinical nurse. It also provides opportunities for you to gain hands-on work experience and connect with potential employers and colleagues.

3. Become a registered nurse

After you have successfully completed all the courses and requirements of your bachelor's degree programme, you may be eligible to become a registered clinical nurse. You can submit your registration through your university, or you can submit an in-person application at the Nursing Council of Hong Kong's office. It's important that you become a registered nurse to be able to work as a nurse.

4. Get a practising nurse certificate

In addition to being a registered nurse, it's important to hold a practising nurse certificate to be able to gain employment as a nurse. You may send a written application to apply for the practising nurse certificate to the Nursing Council in Hong Kong. You can start applying for job postings after obtaining this certification.

5. Work as a registered nurse

Since clinical nurses hold more senior positions, employers may ask you to prove yourself as an experienced nurse. You can transition into a clinical nurse by first working as a registered nurse for one or two years. You can try to work in a department related to your intended speciality to gain the most relevant experience.

6. Gain a master's degree in nursing

Once you are a registered and a practising nurse with a bachelor's degree, you can obtain your master's degree in a specialised area. Full-time master's degree in nursing programmes usually require one year of study while part-time programmes usually require two years. There are several universities and institutions that offer master's degrees in different areas of nursing. You may choose the programme that fits your interests and needs. While doing so, it's important to make sure that the programme is recognised by the Voluntary Scheme on Advanced and Specialised Nursing Practice under the Nursing Council of Hong Kong.

7. Update your resume

Once you have the necessary qualifications and skills to become a clinical nurse, you may update your resume accordingly. You can highlight your new registration, certifications, degrees and any relevant leadership experience you have had during your time as a registered nurse. These achievements may help make you more attractive to employers. Include keywords from clinical nurse job postings to make sure hiring managers understand you have the skills and qualities they are looking for.

8. Apply for clinical nurse or related positions

You may apply for clinical nurse positions in your area of specialisation using your updated resume. You can review job postings closely to ensure your skills are suitable for the position. You may also attach a tailored cover letter to each application explaining why you think you are the best candidate.

Related: Top 20 Nursing Interview Questions (With Example Answers)

What are some important skills for a clinical nurse to have?

Clinical nurses rely on a variety of skills to succeed in their roles. Some of the skills health care organisations look for in clinical nurses include:

  • Problem-solving skills: During their workday, clinical nurses often encounter medical emergencies and crises. Clinical nurses that possess strong problem-solving skills can handle these situations effectively and provide the best results to patients and colleagues.

  • Communication skills: Clinical nurses use their strong communication skills to interview and counsel patients and devise the best treatment plans. They also communicate with patients to collect data for research purposes. It's important that clinical nurses are fluent in Chinese and English to be able to communicate effectively with different groups of people.

  • Interpersonal skills: Clinical nurses spend a lot of time collaborating with colleagues, health care practitioners, patients and their loved ones. They use their interpersonal skills to form relationships with these people.

  • Leadership and managerial skills: Clinical nurses use their leadership skills to supervise, evaluate and influence other registered and enrolled nurses and educate them on the best procedures and practices for managing clinics and hospitals.

  • Research skills: It's beneficial for clinical nurses to have strong research skills to be able to identify research areas, collect and analyse data, write academic reports and implement new practices based on the research.

  • Enthusiasm for continuous learning: Clinical nurses are keen learners, as continuous learning is a key part of their role. An optimism for learning is specifically important for clinical nurses involved in research.

  • Ability to take care of their well-being: Clinical nurses often work in fast-paced and challenging environments. It's important that they practise strategies to cope with these situations and take care of their mental, physical and emotional well-being.

Jobs related to a clinical nurse

If you are passionate about caring for patients, here are some related jobs to a clinical nurse:

1. Enrolled nurse

Average base salary: $28,216 per month

Primary duties: Enrolled nurses are registered and certified nurses, but they may work with different areas of nursing instead of focusing on one specialisation like clinical nurses. Enrolled nurses assess and help improve patients' health conditions.

2. Health care assistant

Average base salary: $15,827 per month

Primary duties: Health care assistants or nurse assistants help nurses, doctors and other staff such as radiographers with their daily routines. They work in a variety of health care institutions and schools.

Related: How to Become a Physician Assistant (With Qualifications and Skills)

3. Dental nurse

Average base salary: $13,327 per month

Primary duties: Dental nurses assist dentists in surgery and treatments. They also do clerical work and are responsible for keeping medical and payment records.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed. Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

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