What comes to your head when you hear the word nurse? For most people, whether or not they are consciously aware, the word brings hope of safety and care. This is because since time in memorial nurses have served in all sorts of cultures, religions and situations taking care of the sick and injured and giving them hope of recovery and a better life.
For this reason and many more, it goes without saying that nursing, in addition to being one of the oldest, is one of the noblest professions anywhere on earth. So if you have received your calling to serve in here, you can be sure that you are among the lucky few on earth who have a chance to directly make a difference in the world through their crafts.
What do nurses do?
There are nurses everywhere on earth. You would literally have to have spent your entire life under a rock to have never heard of or had an encounter with one. Despite the profession being so well known, very few people outside the field actually understand exactly what it is that nurses do. If you or someone you know has been hospitalized then you have a good enough idea of what they do. However, the little that you get to see from nurses in action is merely a tip of the iceberg. Below are the ten most common and important nursing duties.
Tending to wounds and other injuries
This is one of the very few tasks that almost everyone knows about. The reason for this is that most people who have an encounter with a nurse were injured in one way or another. Wound and injury care are two of the most important nursing duties and involve regular wound cleaning and dressing. When done properly, it ensures that the wound heals properly with minimum unnecessary scarring and no infection. Nurses have been doing this for the longest time and have evolved from using simple regimens like herbs and water to more effective pharmaceutics and equipment.
Performing diagnostic tests
Blood and other body fluids are usually tested in an attempt to make accurate diagnoses for the patient’s sake. Nurses work with medical laboratory technicians to run necessary tests on important samples from the patient. The results are important and will be used by physicians or the nurses themselves in diagnosis and coming up with treatment plans.
The triage system is used in hospital Accident and Emergency units to assess the severity of the injury or illness especially when there are many patients in need of assistance. This is done by nurses where information from basic tests and history helps them to determine urgency of different conditions. Using the system, they categorize the patients into three groups to be attended to by surgeons or physicians based on urgency of each individual’s condition.
Assist surgeons in surgery
This is one of the most exciting nursing duties. It involves offering assistance in the operating room during operations. It is a rule in all hospitals that at least one nurse should be present during any surgical procedure despite the complexity or duration of the procedure. They help in many ways including monitoring patient’s vitals, administering lifesaving fluids like blood transfusions and assisting the surgeons in the actual operation.
Treatment plan implementation and monitoring
This is another well-known nursing duty. It involves things like administering medicine and ensuring that the patients comply with the recommended regimens.
Public Health Education
Contrary to most people’s beliefs, nurses have duties both inside and outside the hospital. One of the most important external tasks is public health education. Here, they work with other health care professionals to create awareness of different important medical issues like personal hygiene, the importance of immunization and do-it-yourself disease prevention tips
Midwifery and child delivery
Nurses in obstetrics and midwifery departments have the important duty of helping to guide newborns into the world. Child delivery is one of the oldest and most important tasks in nursing.
History taking and patient record management
In any hospital, nurses know the most about the patients there. This is because they have are responsible for collecting most of the patient information during diagnosis and treatment monitoring. They also manage patient’s files ensuring that they are properly and accurately taken care of for quick and complete recovery.
They are involved directly in research done to come up with new equipment, techniques and drugs to improve patient care and treatment.
General patient care
This applies for nurses in the hospital and those working for private patients from the patient’s homes. The tasks here include scheduled feeding, medicine administration, incontinence care and personal hygiene care. These are usually done on people who are not able to take care of themselves either due to old age or serious disabling injuries and illnesses.
Types of nurses
a.) Based on specialty
Nurses, like doctors and surgeons, have different areas of specialization. Below are a few of the most popular nursing specialty fields:
- Pediatric nurses: Their work involves taking care of sick or injured children between the age of 1 year and twelve years. Neonatal care nurses are sometimes included in these group but their duties are restricted to children below 1 month.
- Geriatric nurses: These take care of the elderly. Most of them work in retirement homes, geriatric care centers and as full-time caretakers in the patient’s permanent residents.
- Critical care nurses: Most of their work is in Intensive Care Units and Advanced Life Support units where they take care of the patient in the worst conditions in the hospital.
- Emergency care nurses: They work in the Accident and Emergency units of hospitals where there main tasks include triaging, history taking and basic life support before further treatment.
- Nurse anesthetics: They help doctors, dentists and surgeons during operations where the patient is partially or fully anesthetized. They are specially trained to administer anesthetics and monitor vitals as the operation proceeds.
b.) Based on level of training
Below are three of the most common types of nurses based on the level of training and responsibility. They ranked from highest to the lowest:
- Nurse practitioners (NP) – They have advanced university training with either a bachelor’s degree or masters in Nursing.
- Registered nurses (RN) – The minimum requirement for this rank is a baccalaureate degree. With this, it is easy to upgrade to a nurse practitioner level.
- Registered Practical Nurses (RPN) – These are diploma level nurses and are usually given less complex patient care duties than the RNs and the NPs.
Nursing degrees and how to get into nursing school
Nursing school is not easy to get into especially for registered nurse and nurse practitioner training. In addition to having great grades from high school or any tertiary level of study, you need to be a well-rounded person of good character. Below are five basic tips to get into nursing school:
- Graduate from high school
- Do thorough research on different nursing schools including prices, training offered and ranking.
- Apply for admission either online or physically
- Attend different pre-nursing school forums to get an idea of what training is like.
- Take TEAS (test of essential academic skills) to increase chances of getting accepted into the schools where you applied.
- Apply for scholarships and other forms of financial aid in advance to increase chances of getting the help.
The Best Nursing Schools by Location
- Best Nursing Schools In Georgia
- Best Nursing Schools in Florida
- Best Nursing Schools in Ohio
- Best Nursing Schools in California
After all is said and done, nursing is one heck of a profession. So if you are one of those kids who said ‘nurse’ when you were asked what you want to be when you grow up then the information above should help get you started on the right path.