Now more than ever, nurses are called upon to perform a wide and varied array of tasks. There are a number of roles and responsibilities inherent in general nursing duties, and there are tasks unique to more specialized areas of the nursing profession as well. Here are some of the more common tasks that nurses could expect to perform in the course of carrying out their duties.
All nurses–regardless of area of specialization–are generally expected to assist in the treatment of patients or administration treatments themselves. They also routinely educate patients on specific medical conditions, and provide advice on specific medical concerns. Other clinical duties expected of nurses are the recording of patient history and symptoms, administration of diagnostic tests and result analysis, and operation of medical equipment. Nurses may also be called upon to administer treatment, provide medication, and assist in patient rehabilitation.
Patient and family care
In many ways, the role of nurses with regard to patient care encompasses working and interacting with their families as well. Nurses may instruct patients and their families on how to manage specific aspects of their injury or medical condition, and provide advice on home care, and even diet and nutrition. Nurses may also perform an important role in self-administered medical care and home-based therapy.
Nurses who work in public health are often tasked with the responsibility of educating the public on the signs and symptoms of specific diseases. They may also administer screening tests and immunization, assist in blood donation programs, and host seminars focusing on specific health conditions.
With regard to patient care, nurses are typically tasked with establishing a plan or assisting in the continued maintenance of an existing treatment plan. The plan itself may involve the administering of medication, ensuring the proper dosage, safeguarding against interactions, managing intravenous treatment, and monitoring patient progress. Nurses also routinely consult with doctors and other professionals in the healthcare industry. Suitably qualified nurses that have had the proper education and training may also be tasked with diagnosing patients and administering therapy, and even prescribing medications.
Patient care specializations
In terms of specialization, nurses generally have one of four options: to work in a specific environment or with a particular treatment type, to specialize in a specific health concern, to focus on one or more specific areas of the body or a body system, or to work with a specific age group or sector of society. Some nurses choose to work in a clinical setting, assisting doctors in the course of their day-to-day duties. Some nurses may focus on a specific health condition such as diabetes management or dermatology, while others may opt to work with children or the elderly. There are also nurses who choose to combine one or more areas of specialization, by working in child oncology for example.
Emotional component to nursing
In many cases, nurses are also called upon to provide emotional and moral support to patients. Although this doesn’t typically fall into the nurse’s standard job description, it is an integral aspect of the profession all the same.