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ISCO 08 Code 2221                  Nursing professionals

Lead Statement

Nursing professionals provide treatment, support and care services for people who are in need of nursing care due to the effects of ageing, injury, illness or other physical or mental impairment, or potential risks to health. They assume responsibility for the planning and management of the care of patients, including the supervision of other health care workers, working autonomously or in teams with medical doctors and others in the practical application of preventive and curative measures.

Task statement

Tasks include:

  • planning, providing and evaluating nursing care for patients according to accepted practice and standards;
  • coordinating the care of patients in consultation with other health professionals and members of health teams;
  • developing and implementing care plans for the biological, social, and psychological treatment of patients in collaboration with other health professionals;
  • planning and providing personal care, treatments and therapies including medications, and monitoring responses to treatment or care plan;
  • cleaning wounds and applying surgical dressings and bandages;
  • monitoring pain and discomfort experienced by patients and alleviating pain by administering drugs (including narcotics) or using other therapies;
  • promoting health and assisting in the prevention of ill health by participating in health education programmes and other health promotion activities;
  • answering questions and providing information to patients and families about treatment and care;
  • supervising and coordinating the work of other nursing, health and personal care workers;
  • conducting research on nursing practices and procedures and disseminating findings such as through scientific papers and reports;
  • conducting nursing education activities in clinical and community settings.

Included occupations

Examples of the occupations classified here:

  • Clinical nurse
  • District nurse
  • Nurse anaesthetist
  • Nurse educator
  • Nurse practitioner
  • Professional Nurse
  • Public health nurse
  • Specialist nurse

Excluded occupations

Some related occupations classified elsewhere:

  • Professional midwife - 2222
  • Paramedical practitioner - 2240
  • University lecturer - 2310
  • Vocational education teacher - 2330                      
  • Associate professional midwife - 3222
  • Associate professional nurse - 3231
  • Nursing aide (hospital) - 5321


The distinction between professional and associate professional nurses should be made on the basis of the nature of the work performed in relation to the tasks specified in this definition. The qualifications held by individuals or that predominate in the country are not the main factor in making this distinction, as training arrangements for nurses vary widely between countries and have varied over time within countries. 

Nurses who combine nursing education or research with clinical nursing practice are classified in Unit group 2221, Nursing professionals. Nursing researchers who participate in biomedical research using living organisms and do not undertake clinical nursing practice are classified in Unit group 2131, Biologists, botanists, zoologists and related professionals. 


ISCO 88 Code(s) 2230, part

(NCvB; Maart 2010)