There are approximately 2.7 million nurses in the United States. A registered nurse (RN) helps doctors in providing treatment to patients suffering from various illnesses. Nurses may administer medication, keep records, monitor patient and teach patients and their families on various topics such as, disease prevention and post-hospital treatment.
What does a nurse (RN) do in a hospital?
A nurse must perform a variety of jobs. Some of which are:
- Administer medications
- Managing intravenous (IV) lines
- Assist doctors during surgeries
- Evaluate and record symptoms
- Treat medical emergencies, such as heart attacks, strokes, car accidents and burns as well as recovering post-operative patients
- Establish treatment plans and operate medical equipment
- Dress wounds
- Do lab work
- Provide emotional support to patients and their loved ones
- Supervise licensed practical nurses (LPNs) and certified nurse assistants (CNAs)
The primary responsibility of a nurse involves caring for patients, but specific duties for the job may vary depending on the employer and the specialization of the nurse. RNs who acquired advanced education are sometimes assigned to perform diagnosis and case management. A registered nurse should be a team player.
A registered nurse must also stay up to date with new technology and usage of new tools. The special skills will help an RN provide the best care to patients and help doctors and other medical professionals in a professional manner. An RN works with patients in specialized areas such as pediatrics, gerontology and critical care.
Basic skills of an RN may vary, but mostly include:
- Patient care
- Case management
- Acute care
- Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS)
- Clinical experience
- Treatment planning
A nurse’s shift starts and ends with patient reports. A nurse will start his or her day with reports from the nurse on the previous shift. In a hospital setting, end of a nurse’s shift will end with filling out their reports and enter into the system or pass on to the nurse who comes on the next shift.
In between the reports, a nurse will care for wounds of patients, administer medicine, perform physicals and discuss patient condition and progress with other medical professionals.
Nurses do not work in hospitals only; they have to work in various health care settings, such private clinics, nursing homes, medical offices, ambulatory care centers, community health centers, schools, retail clinics etc. Sometimes, a nurse may run immunology clinic, general health screening clinic, attend public seminars, organize blood drives and work at Emergency departments.
Nurses have a very uncommon schedule. They work long hours and work in various facilities. They are so busy that sometimes they don’t get a lunch break. Hospital work is hard but very rewarding.
Advanced Practice Registered Nurses
An Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) is a registered nurse who has at least a Master’s degree in educational and clinical practice. Their expertise goes beyond the basic nursing education. There are different types of APRNs:
- Nurse practitioner (NP). They work in clinics, nursing homes, private offices and hospitals. NPs offer a wide range of
- Certified nurse-midwife (CNM). These nurses work in hospitals, homes, and birth centers and provide gynecological and obstetrical care.
- Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS). These nurses handle a wide range of physical and mental health problems. Their main workplaces are hospitals, clinics, private offices, nursing homes, and community-based settings. Sometimes they are involved in research, consultation, administration an education.
- Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNA). This is the oldest form in advanced nursing specialties. They perform more than 65% of anesthetics on patients each year.
Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs)
In California and Texas, the LPNs are known as Licensed Vocational Nurses (LVNs). They augment the healthcare team by providing fundamental and routine care consistent with their education and expertise. They work in various settings under RN, APRN, or MD/DO.
Because of the type of work involved, many nurses spend a lot of time standing and walking. They also need to do a lot of bending and lifting. These bending and lifting jobs are performed while they are helping the patient walk or take them to the bathroom. Sometimes they may need to move equipment. Back stress is hazard in a nurse’s job. Nurses are always in close contact with patients with infectious diseases. They need to follow strict protocols and guidelines to protect themselves from catching any kind of disease.
Nursing schedules in hospitals and surgery centers consist of rotating shifts that cover patient care for 24 hours. Shifts per week and duration of the work may vary according to the employer’s needs. Many nurses work graveyard shifts, weekends and holidays. A lot of times they are on call.