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Friday, February 15, 2008

Registered Nurses: What do they do?

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Anyone who has ever spent time in a hospital knows one thing for sure: It's not just the doctors who make a difference when it comes to getting good health care. Nurses, too, are critically important. After all, it is the nurses who patients really see on a daily basis. Nurses show up regularly to take pulses, administer injections, get IVs started and monitor a patient's condition. They are also the first to arrive whenever a patient has an emergency. In short, while a doctor drops in to give general instructions about how a patient should be treated before running off to attend to other patients, it is the nurse who stays behind to carry out and monitor a patient's basic care.

In the nursing world, registered nurses (or RNs) sit near the top of the nursing totem pole. Working under physicians, they help plan, deliver and evaluate nursing care. When a doctor must perform surgery or some other procedure, registered nurses assist.

The day-to-day duties in this profession can vary considerably, depending on where a registered nurse happens to work. Nurses working in hospitals provide patients with bedside care. They can take blood and urine samples, monitor and record what patients eat and watch patients for any adverse reactions to medications and treatments. Because they oversee licensed practical nurses (LPNs) and nurse's aides or assistants, some of their work is administrative in nature. Nurses staff every unit in a hospital, including the emergency room, intensive care unit, maternity ward, surgery and cancer departments, and pediatric ward. When nurses work in physician's offices, they help patients to prepare for examinations, assist doctors in conducting examinations and minor surgery, dress wounds, administer medication and keep records on a patient's visit.

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