What Does A Registered Nurse Do?
Registered nurses are an integral part of a healthcare team, working together with doctors and other healthcare professionals to provide care to patients and their families. They are trained to evaluate, plan and make the necessary interventions to help individual patients as well as entire communities in instituting actions that would encourage health promotion, disease prevention and illness coping strategies. Becoming a registered nurse is the stepping stone towards many other nursing specialties that can even allow them to practice independently as advanced practice registered nurses.
Registered nurses work in various healthcare settings like hospitals, nursing homes and doctor’s clinics. They get a patient’s medical history and ask him the reason for his current visit. They take note of his current signs and symptoms and observe the patient closely for other manifestations. They see to it that the patient’s doctor knows about these symptoms.
Under the direction of the doctor, they administer medications and follow treatment plans. Advanced practice registered nurses like nurse practitioners may also prescribe medications and order diagnostic exams. They also educate patients and their families on the things they can do at home to help a family member better cope with his illness and facilitate his speedy recovery. For patients who have just been discharged from the hospital, registered nurses explain to them the medications that must be taken, how they must be administered and when these must be taken.
The specific duties of registered nurses typically depend on their area of specialization. They can choose to work with a particular patient group such as children or the elderly, become experts at providing care for those suffering from various conditions such as cancer or diabetes or focus on a particular setting such as the hospital emergency room.
Registered nurses who choose to work with target patient groups can specialize as neonatology nurses and provide care for newborns; as addiction nurses to help those suffering from substance abuse to recover from alcoholism or substance abuse; as genetics nurses who help patients with genetic disorders; as cardiovascular nurses who focus on caring for those with heart conditions; as nephrology nurses who provide care to those with kidney problems; or as rehabilitation nurses who help patients suffering from various disabilities. Pediatric nurses work with children and can further specialize in providing care to children suffering from different conditions. For example, pediatric oncology nurses provide care to children and teenagers suffering from various types of cancers. Geriatric nurses, on the other hand, provide care to the elderly population.
Registered nurses who choose to hone their expertise in a particular healthcare setting may work in emergency rooms, critical care or schools. Trauma nurses typically work in hospital emergency rooms and help doctors care for patients suffering from emergency cases, such as those who have been part of vehicular accidents or those brought in by their loved ones because they suddenly collapsed. Critical care nurses closely monitor patients confined in intensive care units of hospitals because of their serious medical conditions. School nurses are assigned in elementary and high schools to care for students who get sick or injured while in school.
Registered nurses who have obtained further education and training can perform more complex tasks. Nurse anesthetists, for example, are trained to administer anesthesia to patients who will be undergoing surgical operations or to those who need pain medication to manage their conditions. They know how to provide general or local anesthesia depending on the surgeon’s instructions. They also stay with the patient throughout the procedure to ensure that his vital signs remain stable throughout the operation.
Nurse midwives are another type of advanced practice registered nurses who specialize in providing care to women. They may also advise women’s partners on matters related to sexual and reproductive health. They can perform gynecological exams and give family planning services and prenatal care to pregnant women. They are also trained to attend to women who are in labor and deliver their babies to the world.
Registered nurses may also be in professions that don’t directly deal with patients although they usually have already obtained prior clinical experience. Those with advanced degrees may opt to train future nurses by becoming clinical instructors in nursing programs in schools, universities and colleges. Others conduct research on healthcare issues while still others become consultants and influence public policies related to the delivery of healthcare services. There are also those who work for pharmaceutical firms while others choose to use their writing skills and work for health-focused magazines and publications.
Career Spotlight: Registered Nurse
If you find fulfillment in caring for those who are sick but don’t want to perform the seemingly cold and clinical work that doctors do, you can consider becoming a registered nurse. In this role, y[...]