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6 major responsibilities of a nurse

What are the main responsibilities of a nurse? Nurses are the most versatile individuals in the healthcare world. They are involved in almost all areas in a healthcare setting. Your perception of a nurse’s role probably comes from your experiences and encounters with nurses. Nurses often seem to be assistants to doctors and surgeons, who often get most of the credit. Patients and other staff members do acknowledge the roles played by nurses. However, it is important that we too understand what they do. Therefore here are the six responsibilities of a nurse within and beyond their shift.

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Types of nursing

Nursing incorporates independent and collaborative care of an individual, groups, families, or a community for maintenance or recovery of health. Nursing involves illness prevention, health promotion, and care of the sick, disabled, or dying. There are many different types of nurses, that maintain accountability on nursing practices but we will mention a few in this article:

  • Registered nurse (RN)
  • Family nurse practitioner (FNP)
  • ER nurse
  • Certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA)
  • Critical care nurse
  • Geriatric nursing
  • Clinical nurse specialist (CNS)
  • Perioperative nurse
  • Mental health nurse

Responsibilities of a nurse

1.       Patient care

Patient care is the primary role of a nurse known to everyone. As a caregiver, a nurse provides firsthand care to a patient in various settings. They include physical needs (ranging from doing everything for someone to light support), treat health issues, and prevent illness. The nurse must maintain patient dignity while offering care services.

Nurses are also personal caregivers and cater to the holistic well-being of their patients. They must keep the patient’s best interests in mind. To do this they nurture the psychological, social, spiritual, and progressive needs of a patient. They also consider the culture, faith, and perceptions of the recipient while giving their care.

2.       Patient educator and support system

Most times patients (individuals, groups, or communities) do not understand their illnesses, medication, treatment, and proper health practices. These factors are important more so when patients are discharged from the hospital and they are no longer in direct contact with nurses.

A nurse therefore should educate (explain) a patient or caregiver how to go about taking care of their health after discharge from the medical facility. They should also provide channels for patients to seek additional information.

3.       Advocacy

The patient is the nurse’s main priority, ensuring their rights and best interests are fulfilled. The vulnerability that comes with sickness gives a nurse the responsibility to act for the patient’s well-being. Nurses determine a patient’s needs by evaluating the underlying meaning of their words or actions. Putting in mind that the patient might be scared or in pain and not be in the best state of decision-making. 

A nurse, therefore, supports and guides the decision of his/her patient or those of the patient’s secondary caregivers throughout treatment. The nurse recognizes that a patient’s needs exceed that of healthcare providers from an ethical and professional standpoint.  

4.       Decision maker

As a decision-maker, a nurse’s most valuable asset is their critical thinking skills. A nurse thus sets goals, makes assessments, and promotes the health outcomes for a patient. A nurse has to use clinical judgment to determine the best treatment measure a patient should follow.

A nurse has to use her professional training combined cultural understanding of the patient’s background to make the most positive outcome for the patient. It is sometimes difficult for nurses to work with the bits of information they have to gather and combine them to make the best decision for the patient.

5.       Care manager

A nurse does not work alone in the care of a patient. Therefore, one of his/her roles is to manage the care of a patient in collaboration with other healthcare professionals. This ensures the patient care is cohesive and wholesome. The nurse coordinates the care of a patient between his/her professional counterparts and non-professionals to ensure a patient’s objectives are met.

Nurses should be able to communicate patient health progress effectively to doctors or specialists for the patient to receive treatment. In a hospital setting, the nurse is responsible for managing care for multiple patients. A nurse may also need to give instructions or care of a patient beyond the hospital, that is, homecare.

6.       Communicator

Nurses need well-developed communication skills and techniques. Barriers to effective communication may deter the restorative healing process. The nurse has to communicate efficiently to the patient’s doctor or specialists, family members, and the patient. In addition to oral communication, written communication is also paramount in form of patient reports or patient charting. Effective communication ensures accountability and responsibility in nursing guarantees nurses are answerable to patient safety and recovery. It is a vital component of any healthcare setting.

In summary

Nursing comprises the most versatile individuals in the healthcare world. It is a critical component of the healthcare setting concerning patient care. There are various types of nurses to fulfill different patient needs. Evaluate all the responsibilities of a nurse mentioned above and analyze whether they are comprehensive enough to ensure patient satisfaction.

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