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What kinds of things do you do with patients as a registered nurse or nurse practitioner?

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Gerald’s Answer

A Registered Nurse (RN) or a Nurse Practitioner (NP), they primarily do the same thing which is take care of patients. However, the scope of practice for either role is different. Nurses provide care under the guidance of a medical doctor or Nurse Practitioner. NP's provide care autonomously and consult with a MD to provide an extension of care or for consult.

RN’s perform a wide array of duties. It can include:

  • Observing and recording patient behavior
  • Performing physical exams and diagnostic tests
  • Collecting patient health histories
  • Counseling patients and their families
  • Educating patients about treatment plans
  • Administering medications, wound care, and other treatment options
  • Interpreting patient information and making decisions about necessary actions, where appropriate
  • Consulting with nurse supervisors and physicians to determine best treatment plans for patients
  • Directing and supervising the care of other healthcare professionals, including licensed practical nurses, certified nurse assistants, and nurse aides
  • Conducting research to improve patient outcomes and healthcare processes

This only scratches the surface of what RN’s can do but this is a good beginning picture of what to expect as an RN.

Now NP’s are more autonomous, meaning that they can perform most of their duties without supervision. This can include:

  • Acting as a primary point of contact for patient care and managing care and treatment.
  • Counseling patients with a specific illness or injury in how to best care for themselves, including stressing the importance of eating nutritiously and exercising, reducing stress, and making positive lifestyle choices.
  • Diagnosing and treating patients with acute and chronic health conditions, including diabetes, infections, hypertension, and serious injuries.
  • Ordering diagnostic tests such as lab work and X-rays, performing the tests, and interpreting the results.
  • Prescribing medications and treating patient health based on the patient’s current symptoms.

NP’s still perform all the duties of an RN but there is more responsibility in assuming care of the patient as NP’s can be primary care providers.



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Richard’s Answer

There is a wide variety of “typical” days for nurses. I am a radiologist. The nurses that work in my department spend their day with patients getting diagnostic procedures. They receive the patient from either the day surgery unit or inpatient nursing unit, evaluate the patient and prepare the patient for the procedure. They administer sedation medications and monitor the patient for complications during the procedure. Finally they monitor the patient during the immediate recovery period and prepare the patient for the return to the day surgery unit or inpatient nursing unit.