Last updated on December 26th, 2023 at 07:27 pm

Are you interested in a nursing career? Nursing is a fascinating field that allows you to work in various healthcare settings. With a degree in nursing, you could work in a hospital, clinic, residential facility, school, or university. You may become a licensed practical nurse, registered nurse, or nurse practitioner. By earning your degree and scoring well on exams such as the NCLEX-RN, you could obtain licensure and move onto a variety of dynamic and fulfilling jobs, including:

  • Home health nurse
  • Registered nurse manager
  • Charge nurse
  • Neonatal intensive care unit nurse
  • Oncology nurse

You may work in a busy emergency room or critical care department. Or, you might provide nursing services in rural areas or for underserved populations. There are few limits on how far you can go in the nursing industry if you possess the right credentials and training. Earning your nursing degree is a perfect place to begin.

General Daily Nursing Tasks

So, what do nurses do? Daily nursing tasks may change a bit from day to day. However, tasks such as taking patient vital signs and working with various medical equipment will remain constant. In this role, you are responsible for a wide range of nurse duties and responsibilities, and most will revolve around caring for patients.

Chart Patient Records

Keeping accurate records of patients’ medications, pain levels, and physical and emotional states is vital to nursing. These tasks are done at least once per shift but often more. Recording your daily interactions with your patients is a communication method that serves as a reminder to yourself and other doctors and nurses who may see your patient after you.

Make Rounds

At the start of your nursing shift, you may be responsible for making rounds to all your patients. Making rounds familiarizes you with who you’ll be helping throughout your shift, the level of care they require, and who may need the most supervision and attention. During rounds, you’ll greet patients, introduce yourself to family members, examine your patient’s chart, and determine whether your patient needs immediate help (such as with food, hygiene, or restroom visits).

Give Patients Medication

Throughout nursing shifts, you may be required to give patients their medications. Giving medications could be as simple as delivering the pills when scheduled. However, patients sometimes need assistance to receive or swallow their medications. In these instances, you’ll need to have strategies to help—such as supplying pudding or applesauce to make it easier for the patient to take their pills.

If your patient is using IV medications, you may be responsible for changing the bag, starting or stopping an IV line, or flushing the IV line. You’ll wait with the patient for a few moments after they begin receiving the medication to ensure they’re experiencing no harmful side effects, like an allergic reaction.

Offer Patients Moral Support

As a nurse, you’ll work with many patients who are in pain, worried, or scared. As their caretaker, one responsibility is to be patient and kind. While this doesn’t mean accepting abuse from a patient, it does mean doing your best to provide reassurance, hope, and practical help.

Patient Case Management

Patients typically see much more of their nurses than they do their doctors. Patient care management may mean you’ll provide most of their care. So, if a doctor orders a change to medication or routine, it will be your job as a nurse to carry out the order. As such, you must be well-attuned to any changes you observe so you can report back.

Nurses should always remain current on their patients’ treatment plans, prepared to speak up immediately if something sounds contraindicated or a patient seems to be experiencing a problem due to treatment changes. It takes a whole team of caregivers to make a patient well. As a nurse, you’ll be a key player.

Patient Education

In addition, nurses are responsible for educating patients regarding their care and treatment. When you send a patient home, you must instruct them on how to care for their condition. Patient education could include briefing your patients on wound care, diabetes, or a heart condition. You might discuss topics including diet, stress management, or exercise.

Additional Duties and Responsibilities of a Nurse

If you work in rural or isolated areas of the country (or world), you may discover that what nurses do closely mimics some doctors’ regular duties. For example, in some areas of the United States, nurse practitioners can serve as primary care physicians. Therefore, your duties—such as in emergencies like the COVID-19 crisis—may expand. Regardless, as a nursing professional, there may be times when you’re asked to perform other medical duties, including:

Conduct Physical Exams

Sometimes, the nurse conducts a patient’s basic physical exam in preparation for the doctor or if a doctor is unavailable. Physical exams may entail taking the patient’s blood pressure, listening to their heartbeat, checking their reflexes, and examining their eyes, ears, or nasal cavities.

Take Detailed Health Histories

There are times you’ll be charged with assessing complete medical histories of your patients, including the medications they’re currently taking, whether they have any history of chronic diseases or conditions within their families, and whether they engage in habits or activities that could put them at a higher health risk, such as smoking or using illegal drugs.

Draw Blood and Other Fluids

One of the more important tasks you’ll perform as a nurse is drawing blood, and though it may sound simple, it takes skill and knowledge to minimize patient pain and discomfort. There’s a correct way to hold and place pressure on the arm, the proper angle to insert a needle and the right way to apply pressure afterward. Nurses must keep the area and equipment clean and disinfected to prevent infection.

As a nurse, you may also be tasked with drawing IV fluids, such as saline, lactated ringers, dextrose, and colloids. There is a correct procedure for each. Having a keen grasp of these skills is crucial because they are common nursing tasks.

Check and Document Vital Signs

Taking a patient’s vitals is a routine task you may perform several times per shift as a nurse. Vital signs include heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature—all good indicators of how a person’s essential body functions are working.

Coordinate Care Across Physicians

Additionally, nurses are expected to collaborate with other medical professionals to provide better patient care. Coordinating care may include communicating with doctors, specialists, mental health workers, and other hospital or clinic personnel. You’ll want to have strong communication skills and the ability to get along well with different personalities.

Additional Assigned Medical Duties

Under extreme conditions or in emergency situations, you may have to perform tasks outside your typical areas of expertise. Some nursing tasks could include administrative functions, acting as part of a traveling medical team, or working in temporary pop-up clinics.

Learn More About Pursuing a Career in Nursing

If you’re ready to pursue training and education in nursing, Salem University provides several degree programs you may find interesting. Our Associate of Science in Nursing is a hybrid program that offers both online and in-person classwork to give you a solid foundation in nursing and prepare you to enter the workforce as a registered nurse (or continue into our RN-to-BSN degree completion program).

Both programs offer virtual and hands-on learning opportunities that better fit your life and work schedule and increase your skills and job marketability within the healthcare industry. Our nursing programs are designed to foster critical thinking and problem-solving skills and prepare students for future success in all they wish to accomplish. Learn more by requesting more information or contacting an admission representative at Salem University today.

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