Six Other Things Nurses Do
Most Americans can list a handful of duties of the average nurse: delivering medicine on time, bringing water and food, helping patients reach the restroom, and other seemingly menial tasks. Because nurses spend more time around patients, performing everyday tasks, many people fail to realize that nurses are indispensable in the health care industry. In fact, nurses have all sorts of behind-the-scenes responsibilities that ensure hospitals are efficient and safe.
There is more than one type of nurse, and accordingly, there are more than one set of nursing duties. Whether you are considering a career in nursing or curious about the range of diversity within the nursing field, here are six tasks that fall into nurses’ hands.
Promote Public Health
Health doesn’t begin and end in the hospital. In fact, to thwart rising health care costs in general, it is best for everyone to be conscious of healthy practices at all times. Nurses are vital to maintaining high levels of public health because they spend time getting to know patients, including understanding their needs and concerns. Then, nurses can more effectively explain treatment plans, teaching patients how to properly administer their medication at home and ensuring a healthier lifestyle in the future.
Nurses interested in contributing more to public health initiatives can lend their expertise to community agencies, non-profit organizations, and other centers devoted to outreach. Nurses can even specialize in public health, becoming vital educators in their communities.
Coordinate Care With Health Professionals
It is a common misconception that doctors run hospitals. Clinical nurse leaders, nurse managers, and other nurse administrators assume the bulk of responsibility for providing the best possible patient experience through appropriate coordination of care and treatment. Though “care coordination” means different things to different health professionals, most accept it as organization of doctors, nurses, and other care providers to make health care more efficient and effective.
Proper coordination of care is touted as one of the best predictors of positive patient outcomes, and nurses are wholly accountable for this task. Nurses eager to be in leadership positions and wield such increased responsibility should consider enrolling in MSN programs online to earn the necessary credentials.
Supervise Care Teams
A variety of health professionals, to include doctors of various specialties, nursing staff, equipment technicians, and even janitorial staff all contribute to a patient’s well-being, and though nurses do not assemble a patient’s care team, they do observe the team’s movements to ensure high-quality care. What’s more, nurses themselves are highly stratified into more- and less-qualified groups ― based on education, experience, and competency ― and supervising subordinate nurses is usually part of a nurse’s job.
Conduct Continuous Research
Like doctors, nurses are required to complete a certain amount of continued education to ensure they are adhering to evidence-based practices and knowledgeable of state-of-the-art procedures. However, in addition to this, many nurse leaders are involved in research initiatives to develop improved techniques and care strategies.
Nurses who are primarily interested in conducting research might pursue advanced degrees, even to the doctoral level, where they can become nurse educators and devote themselves to nursing study.
Have Specialized Duties
Some nurses work hard to earn specialties, which qualify them to perform specialized tasks. Typically, specialized nurses earn more than general nurses. There are dozens of different types of nurses, including:
- Nurse anesthetists, who assist anesthesiologists in administering anesthetics.
- Geriatric nurses, who understand conditions typically unique to elderly populations.
- Home health nurses, who provide care to patients who are homebound.
- Forensic nurses, who help law enforcement investigate crimes against certain types of patients.
- Nurse psychiatrists, who provide vital mental health care.
- Nurse midwifes, who assist women throughout pregnancy and labor.
Interpret Patient Information
Though doctors are lauded for their diagnostic capabilities, nurses are also integral in analyzing patient information and arriving at a verdict. Though it is important to note that nurses can only diagnose conditions ― not diseases or disorders ― their ability to swiftly identify the cause of signs and symptoms as well as treat emergency conditions is often critical to patient health. More advanced nurses, especially nurse practitioners, can even prescribe some medications or develop treatment plans to resolve conditions.