What Do Nurses Do?

February 8, 2023
Janelle Thomas MSN, RN
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Nurses are such a universal presence in health care that it’s almost easy to take them for granted. But that would be a huge mistake, because nurses are the backbone of the medical and health services fields.

If you’re wondering what nurses do on an everyday basis, the answer is almost anything and everything. In several situations, nurses are the primary care provider and the person most patients turn to first for assistance.

Whether you’re interested in becoming a nurse, or just want a better understanding of how exactly nurses help patients, this overview can help.

What Is Nursing?

In health care, a nurse is a person with extensive training to care for people who are sick, injured, disabled, or otherwise in need of medical assistance. Nurses also help promote overall health and wellness in the general population by promoting preventive care and healthy lifestyle choices. Across a wide spectrum of settings, nurses are also trained to act as patient advocates for the people under their care, working for the best possible long-term outcome that is right for that individual.

Nursing care has been around for centuries, but modern nursing is associated with Florence Nightingale. In the 1800s, she helped to establish many of the principles and practices that have today been solidified in the nursing profession.

What Do Nurses Do?

Nurses are responsible for carrying out a wide array of tasks related to patient care. Depending on the specific environment a nurse works in, responsibilities can include:

  • Collecting basic health information for patient intake
  • Measuring vital signs
  • Monitoring patient status and communicating updates with other medical staff
  • Creating a patient care plan based on physician diagnosis
  • Administering medication and other forms of therapy
  • Ensuring basic care needs, including making patients comfortable, assisting with nutrition, and helping with hygiene and cleaning
  • Advocating for patients to physicians, administrators, and other parties based on their unique needs and care journey
  • Therapeutically communicate with patients in a way that helps them feel informed, safe, and comfortable about their care

To fulfill these and many other duties, nurses must display a number of positive qualities, including hard working, clinically knowledgeable, caring, and conscientious day in and day out.

Different Types of Nurses

There are many types of nurses and they can be categorized by degree type, specialty, and primary environment where they work. In general, nurses can be divided into the following categories by the level of their education and degree:

  • Licensed practical nurse (LPN): LPNs typically provide a support role to health teams, providing many basic care functions. LPNs will usually report to a higher level nurse, such as an RN or nurse manager. Most LPN programs are two year programs.
  • Registered nurse (RN): RNs are foundational to the nursing profession and overall health care field, and are what many people think of when they think of a nurse. RN degree programs usually take between two and four years depending on whether a student is pursuing an associate degree or bachelor’s degree in nursing.
  • Advanced practice registered nurse (APRN): the term APRN represents a range of different specialist roles held by nurses with more advanced education and degrees. This can include nurse practitioners, certified nurse-midwives, and certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs), as well as other clinical nurse specialists. These nurses can provide a higher level of diagnostic, primary, and preventative care, with educational programs based on obtaining a master’s degree or equivalent.

Additionally, nurses of all types can further specialize in medical branches and disciplines, such as obstetrics and gynecology, oncology, critical care and trauma, gerontology, pediatrics, end-of-life care, and medical-surgical nursing.

What Environments Do Nurses Work In?

Nurses can work anywhere that health services are provided, including:

  • Hospitals
  • Nursing homes
  • Inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation facilities
  • Doctor’s offices
  • Surgery centers
  • Clinics
  • Schools
  • Home health settings

Additionally, many nurses work in other fields as educators and consultants. Nurses can also work in call centers or out of their homes as telephonic case managers.

How to Become a Nurse

The first step to becoming a nurse is getting accepted into a nursing program from an accredited nursing school. As discussed above, nursing degrees can range from two-year associate degrees to four-year bachelor’s degree, to five-year or longer master’s degrees. Nursing school will include a mixture of theoretical and clinical learning to teach the skills and knowledge necessary to become a nurse.

After graduating, nurses will need to pass a licensing examination, the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX), for their level of degree to obtain a nursing license in their state. From there, a nurse will need to be hired into an entry level position, which is very often at a hospital or nursing home.

One rapidly growing and rewarding field for nurses is home health. Home health care offers nurses fantastic opportunities for one-on-one patient care, independent decision-making, and flexible schedules among many other fantastic benefits.

Care Options for Kids now offers a New Graduate nurse training program. The Care Options for Kids Graduate Nurse Program is an innovative preceptorship/mentoring program designed to prepare a nurse to be a successful pediatric home health nurse. After completion of a four-week orientation, a new graduate nurse will work independently as a trusted partner in the care of our pediatric clients.

Contact Care Options for Kids for Home Health Care

Our home health care nurses work services one-on-one with a client in the comfort of their own home. We are always looking for loving and competent nurses to provide customized care for families — from a few hours a day to around-the-clock supervision. We value the health and well-being of our nurses and understand the vital role you play in caring for our clients. PPE is provided in each home – including masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer. We follow CDC guidelines to ensure you, your client, and your family stays healthy

Applying for a position with Care Options for Kids is quick and simple. Our online application process is straightforward and effortless, and eliminates the need to come

into a local office. Our process is virtual and can be completed at your convenience until you are ready to meet with our Director of Nursing. Your application, resumé, license, CPR card and other credentials can all be uploaded easily online. We make it as easy as possible to join our team. Call today at (888) 592-5855.