The many faces of the professional nurse
The title of Nurse has many applications in modern medicine. Each specific type of nurse has a different set of responsibilities: Registered nurses (RNs), Nurse Practitioners, head nurses or nurse supervisors, Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs), nursing home nurses, Home Health Nurses, and nursing aides. While there are many shared tasks, these nursing professions require special skills and different levels of patient interactions. We’ve compiled the many nursing job descriptions below:
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Nurse job description (RN)
Registered Nurses (RNs) comprise the largest group of healthcare workers. To become an RN, students must learn what it takes to work directly with patients and their families. They are the primary point of contact between the patient and the world of health care, both at the bedside and in out-patient settings. RNs perform frequent patient evaluations, including monitoring and tracking vital signs, performing procedures such as IV placement, phlebotomy, and administering medications. Because the RN is much more regular contact with patients than are physicians, the RN is usually first to notice problems or raise concerns about patient progress.
RN job descriptions also include developing the day-to-day nursing care plans both in the hospital and for care after discharge, to be administered by families and visiting nurses.
While there is a national component to RN training (culminating in the NCLEX licensing exam), state laws determine the formal responsibilities of the RN. Nonetheless, because of the relatively broad nursing job description for RNs, the particular work enivironment determines what the daily routine is.
Nurse Practitioners job description
Nurse Practitioners are primary caregivers. Several critics of the current U.S. healthcare system would argue that the system needs many more Nurse Practitioners and fewer physicians. These nurses are often first in line to diagnose and treat illnesses and injuries. Nurse Practitioners have the right to prescribe certain medications, with licensing and priveleges varying by state.
With increasing specialization, becoming a Nurse Practitioner requires taking on some secondary care responsibilities, including anesthesiology (certified registered nurse anesthetists), widwifery (certified nurse-midwives), and certain other clinical responsibilities (clinical nurse specialists).
Educational requirements to become a Nurse Practitioner often require a BSN (Bachelors of Science in Nursing), followed by additional training, sometimes requiring a Masters in Nursing.
Head nurses or nurse supervisor job description
Head nurses supervise nursing activities in a variety of settings. While some patient care is usually required, the nursing superviser’s new duties include setting up work schedules, assigning duties to a nursing staff, and ensuring that each member of the nursing team is adequately trained.
Head nurses are ultimately responsible for the performance of the nurses on their team. This means that they must ensure that nursing records are correctly maintained, that report is correctly given at each shift change, and that equipment and other supplies are in stock.
Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) job description
Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs), or licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) in Texas and California, provide the patient care on a very personal level. They usually report directly to physicians and RNs, and are usually responsible for taking vitals and monitoring in-and-out volumes, treating common like bedsores, and preparing or performing several procedures such as dressing wounds, bathing and dressing, and giving enemas.
In some, but not all, states LPNs and LVNs may administer prescribed medicines or start IV fluids.
Nursing home nurses job description
Nursing home nurses manage nursing care for residents with conditions ranging from a fracture to Alzheimer’s disease. Although they often spend much of their time on administrative and supervisory tasks, RNs also assess residents’ health condition, develop treatment plans, supervise licensed practical nurses and nursing aides, and perform difficult procedures such as starting intravenous fluids. They also work in specialty-care departments, such as long-term rehabilitation units for patients with strokes and head-injuries.
Home Health Nurses job description
The aging Baby-Boomer population as led to a growth in home health nursing jobs. Home health nurses provide periodic services to patients at home. After assessing patients’ home environments, they care for and instruct patients and their families. Home health nurses care for a broad range of patients, such as those recovering from illnesses and accidents, cancer, and childbirth. They must be able to work independently, and may supervise home health aides.
Nursing Aides job description
Nursing aides, also known as nursing assistants, geriatric aides, unlicensed assistant personnel, or hospital attendants, perform routine tasks under the supervision of nursing and medical staff. As the medical industry booms, nursing assistant salaries are expected to remain competitive. Nursing aides answer patients’ call bells, deliver messages, serve meals, make beds, and help patients eat, dress, and bathe. Aides also may provide skin care to patients; take temperatures, pulse, respiration, and blood pressure; and help patients get in and out of bed and walk. They also may escort patients to operating and examining rooms, keep patients’ rooms neat, set up equipment, store and move supplies, or assist with some procedures. Aides observe patients’ physical, mental, and emotional conditions and report any change to the nursing or medical staff.
(Source is U.S. Department Of Labor)