Nurses play a crucial role in healthcare, ensuring that patients are comfortable and well taken care of, no matter what their condition or injury might be. They don’t just treat physical ailments but are there to take care of patients’ emotional and even mental health needs as well. This is why nurses have to have such a broad range of skills and why there is so much training involved in you wanting to become a nurse.
If you’re not sure exactly what it is that nurses do or what their main responsibilities are, keep reading. In this article, we’ll break down some of the most important jobs that a nurse will do on a daily basis so that you can get a good insight into exactly how the nursing profession works. It’s a wonderful career to get into if you have the right skills and mindset, and this might just help you make that career choice a little more easily.
Table of Contents
Recording Medical History and Symptoms
As a means of ensuring that their patients get the care they need, nurses keep detailed records about each one. These records are what doctors and other healthcare professionals will rely on to help the patient and treat them in the right way, so when a nurse is taking these notes, it’s for a very important reason; the notes must be extremely accurate and kept up to date at all times, even if (or more likely when) the nurse is busy.
To get the right notes, most nurses will begin by asking patients about their medical history, which includes things like current and past illnesses, surgeries, treatments, medications, and allergies. Along with taking the patient’s vitals, they may also inquire as to the nature of any present symptoms – this can help to narrow down the condition the patient might be suffering from, which saves time and allows for treatment to take place more quickly.
A nurse may also be responsible for revising the patient’s medical file to reflect any changes in the patient’s diagnosis, medication, or treatment plan that occurred during the patient’s visit. If you want to give your patients the finest care possible, you need to keep meticulous medical records, so if you want to be a nurse, you must be accurate, observant, and organized.
Administering Medications and Treatments
Most nurses (although it will depend on their qualifications and experience in some cases), can give their patients the medications they need and carry out some treatments. They will need a doctor’s permission or advice to do this, as it is the doctor who will diagnose the patient and come up with a treatment plan, but physically giving the medication, bandaging the wound, or perhaps putting in stitches – among many other more complex things – is down to the nurse a lot of the time.
On top of this, a nurse can help a doctor to develop the right treatment plan for their patients. Although a doctor will need to have the final say, it does make sense for a nurse to be able to do this – they are the ones who are with the patients the majority of the time, and therefore they understand the needs and desires of that patient. This is something that a good nursing degree, such as those at Holy Family University Nursing, will teach those who are planning to become nurses.
Working In a Team To Offer The Best Patient Care
When it comes to communicating patient information to other members of the healthcare team, nurses play a pivotal role. They must be able to talk to all those involved about exactly what is happening with and for a patient, and what will happen next. This means talking to other nurses they are working closely with, doctors and other medical professionals, the patient’s family, and, crucially, the patient themselves. All of these different people will need to be communicated with in a different way, and nurses have to know how to do this and how to make the distinction.
Given the importance of working closely with doctors and other medical professionals, nurses need to be able to express themselves clearly both orally and in writing. They have to be clear and concise, yet also convey all the right information accurately. This is a skill that can certainly be learned, and when nurses can do it well, it will benefit everyone and ensure that patient care is better.
Performing Diagnostic Tests
Diagnostic procedures performed by nurses range from taking a patient’s pulse and temperature to taking tissue, blood, feces, or urine samples. Each of these procedures is done differently, and some are painless while others are more invasive. The nurse needs to know how to do each one perfectly, as the patient must not be inconvenienced more than they have to be (bearing in mind that many medical tests are invasive ones, this still has to be at the forefront of a nurse’s mind).
Nurses require accurate results from these tests in order to make diagnoses and formulate treatment plans for their patients, so it’s crucial that they’re administered correctly. Any small mistake could mean problems for the patient in the form of a treatment plan that doesn’t work as well as it should, or perhaps the wrong medication, for example. As you can see, this seemingly simple task that nurses carry out every day is one that is heavy with responsibility when you look more closely into it.
As well as physically taking the samples and performing the diagnostic tests, a nurse’s role in this process may also include data analysis and reporting findings to other members of the healthcare team. Again, communication is going to be crucial here, as we mentioned above, but so too is understanding what the results mean.
Carrying Out Physical Examinations
In order to get a sense of the patient’s general health, nurses will usually perform a physical examination at the outset of the appointment. Procedures including noting the patient’s weight, taking their pulse, and measuring their blood pressure could be part of this, and there are many other tests that can be conducted as well. While some are routine, like the ones we mentioned above, others will depend on the potential condition the patient is suffering from and understanding which physical tests to carry out and which are not so important is all part of a nurse’s important remit.
These physical tests allow nurses to look more closely at the patient and ascertain whether their treatment plan is the right one. It will also help to find the right doctor to help form a diagnosis from the start. As with anything in medicine, speed is important as diseases can spread fast and injuries can be life-threatening. The more a nurse understands about the tests they are performing, the easier – and quicker – it will be to help the patient.
Monitoring The Patient’s Health
Once a patient is in hospital or under a doctor’s care, they cannot just be left to get better on their own (even with the right treatment plan). They will need constant supervision and monitoring to ensure that the medication is working, for example. They will also need to be checked on in general to make sure their health remains good (or at least improving). This is another responsibility of the nurse.
Nurses must make careful observations about each of their patients to check that everything is going the way it should in terms of their recovery. These observations could mean that a treatment plan has to change or that more diagnostic tests have to be carried out, so they are clearly important in terms of keeping someone healthy or on the road to recovery.
As well as checking the medical signs that a patient is doing well or becoming sicker, nurses have to be well-versed in understanding nonverbal cues about a patient’s health. This could mean a change in their demeanor or physical changes to their skin or eyes, among many other things to look out for. Nurses have to be incredibly observant at all times.
Providing Support and Advice
Nurses are the people who patients will turn to when they need help and advice, so it’s essential that nurses are able to offer this kind of support when it’s needed. Although it’s impossible to say what would be at the top of the list if you were to think about the most important responsibilities of being a nurse, it is likely that offering advice and guidance and being there as a supportive part of the treatment would be close to the top or at the top if you had to pick something.
Patients in hospitals, clinics, and other medical settings are not there because they want to be most of the time. They are there because they are sick. They will often be scared and confused. They will need a friendly face who is there to help them get better physically and emotionally. This is one of the essential elements of being a nurse. It’s a huge responsibility and not something that everyone can handle. However, if you can do it, it’s a massively rewarding part of the job, and one of the main reasons why people choose to become nurses. You are really helping people when you can be there to support them and advise them in their darkest hour.
A nurse’s job description often includes explaining a patient’s diagnosis and outlining treatment options in detail. Included in this category are directions for rehabilitative exercises or practices, prescription schedules, and follow-up visit times. This is so important. Patients can often feel lost and alone when it comes to their treatment; they trust that the medical team will put the right answers in place to help them, but they are confused about what is happening and what they might need to do to help speed up their own recovery. When a nurse is able to explain all of this in layman’s terms and offer explanations about how to take care of themselves, patients are more likely to do what they need to do to keep themselves on the road to recovery.
As part of their duties, nurses may also be expected to educate patients’ loved ones on the additional home care requirements that may arise after a patient receives medical attention. This could be about nutritional advice, exercise routines, and physiotherapy, for example. Again, when patients’ families have the information they need to take care of their loved ones, they will be less afraid of taking charge. It can be nerve-wracking to have to take care of a loved one if you don’t have all the details and you’re afraid you might do something wrong, but when a nurse has taken the time to go through everything with you, it’s much easier and something you’re more likely to do (and do well).
In addition to all of this, some nurses may also take the initiative to inform the public about preventable health issues by hosting lectures, participating in blood drives, or volunteering at health screening and immunization clinics. A nurse will want to help as many people as possible, and this kind of work can do that easily.
Advocating For Patients
Patients have to take charge of their own health and wellbeing. It’s important that they do this, as it helps them to understand what is happening and why. It helps them to get into a good routine when it comes to healthcare and living well.
However, it can be hard for some people to take this charge because they don’t know what to do or how to do it. In this case, nurses will help as they can advocate on behalf of the patient if need be. This means ensuring patients understand the doctor’s treatment plan, for example, but it also means encouraging patients to find out more about their condition, to ask the right questions, and to find the right resources.
Nurses can do this by listening to their patients. Once a nurse understands their needs and worries, they will be in a better position to advise them on what to do next. This is not always going to be an easy thing to do, especially when nurses are so busy. However, it’s all part of a nurse’s responsibilities, and it must be part of their day-to-day work.
Content Provided By SpecialDocs Consultants – medical practice consulting