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What are the main responsiblities you have as a registered nurse?

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Megan’s Answer

As a Registered Nurse the possibility is endless. I have worked in a nursing home, I have worked with children with severe medical issues in their home. I have run a home health agency. I have worked as a charge nurse in a hospital cardiac unit and now I work in a clinic setting with brain surgeons. Every job has different responsibilities, different hours worked and obviously different settings. In pretty much every setting as a RN you are in charge of a group of patients and a group of staff that all work together for the patients needs. You have to think fast, think worst case scenario, use you judgement on when to call the doctor and make sure the orders are completed and follow up assessment is documented. You rarely have to provide personal care like feeding and cleaning patients after the bathroom BUT you can and you will have to do this at anytime your patients need this if no one else is available. You have to give medicine on time or know when to tell others to give it. Everyone below your level of education looks to you for guidance and professionalism is a must. You interact with Physicians daily when reporting on your patients. Depending on your job you may have to do wound care, planning and setting up surgical procedures, provide education to patients on new medicine or new diseases, give IV medications or shots, provide tracheostomy care, monitor patients just out of surgery or assist a surgeon with supplies during surgery, help people with terminal illness be comfortable in their last days or assist a patient discharging from the hospital make sure they get all their medicine and have someone to help them when they get home. The options and availability of jobs are endless. This job is extremely rewarding but you have to have the desire to help others.

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Suzanne’s Answer

Hello Savannah,
This is Sue and I am a retired cancer/research nurse. The answer to your question will be highly variable depending on the type of nursing of each respondent practices. It depends on where the nurse works: school, outpatient, inpatient, clinic, home health, or public health. It depends on the scope of practice allowed by each state. The nursing responsibilities will also be shaped by the nurse's highest level of education and training.
Generically, the main nursing responsibilities revolve around patient care and patient assessment. As an example, a nurse (RN) in the hospital will be given a specific patient assignment load. The nurse must review the chart of each patient, review the medications, and double check the physician's orders. The RN will then assess each patient: check vital signs, how the patient is progressing/worsening, administer ordered medications/blood products/chemotherapy, perform required dressing changes. The RN will ensure that the ancillary staff have provided clean linens and a shower/bath and oral care. The patient is monitored through the shift for any changes in their condition. The RN will provide patient and family education regarding the illness, medications and provide answers to questions. If the patient has further need, the RN will act as an advocate to make sure the patient is seen by the appropriate specialty service.
In my prior position, I took care of patients enrolled onto cancer clinical trials. I was required to ensure that the clinical trial requirements were followed to the letter, I assessed the patients for side effects, helped to schedule all the required tests and procedures, called the patients at home to follow up on their condition, and on top of all patient care duties, filed data and regulatory reports as required by the FDA. If a patient experienced a severe side effect, I had to ensure they were provided emergent care and again, had to file emergency information to the drug manufacturer and the FDA.
Nursing is a challenging but highly rewarding profession. The duties may appear to be daunting, but all of this becomes second nature after being in practice for a while. I could, with a single glance, tell if a patient was getting sick. I would follow up that gut instinct with a good patient assessment and full set of vital signs. I was seldom wrong.
I hope this answers your question!
Sue, RN