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A Quick Refresher Course on an RN’s Role in the Hospital

Registered Nurse (RN) Role in the Hospital

Hospitals are the major employers of registered nurses, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. General medical hospitals make up 48% of the job opportunities for nurses, and that number is on the rise. Registered Nurses (RNs) are the core of patient care. They serve as coordinators for almost every aspect of medical treatment a patient receives while in the hospital. The exact role varies by location, but a RN refresher course will point out some of the common duties they perform in a hospital environment.

Patient Assessment

It is the job of a registered nurse to assess the patient’s medical state. This includes listening to the heart, lungs and bowels for abnormalities. The nurse monitors pupils, and mental status of a patient. Assessment requires evaluation and documentation of body functions such as urine output, bowel movements and vital signs. Assessment goes beyond the physical findings. A nurse must evaluate test results and drug levels to document critical findings and changes in status. Assessment includes getting a complete medical history and recording any complaints made by the patient.

Charting

Charting is a key function of a registered nurse. A chart is the primary means of communication in a hospital. It is where doctors put orders; nurses make notes about the patient’s status and document their assessments. The chart holds test results and diagrams treatment protocols. Part of the duties of a RN is to manage the documentation in the chart for patients under their care. In some cases, registered nurses evaluate charting done by licensed practical nurses (LPNs) and licensed vocational nurses (LVNs), as well. Documentation requirements vary by hospitals, but most include progress notes, flow sheets, telemetry strips and patient education.

Administration

Most hospitals put registered nurses in an administrative position, especially if they utilize LPNs, LPVs and nurses aides. A registered nurse might be in charge of a ward or floor, supervising the staff. The management responsibilities might include diagnostic assessment when there are changes in a patient’s condition, communication with physicians for new orders and reviewing the work of other medical personnel.

Care Plans

Registered nurses diagram and update care plans for patients based on orders from their primary care physician, consulting specialists and the treatment standards. It is the responsibility of the nurse to monitor cares to make sure that proper treatment is maintained and documented.

Diagnostic Testing

The nurse takes specimens and performs on-site diagnostic testing. This includes drawing blood, collecting urine, stool, emesis and sputum samples, blood gases and culturing. In certain situations, RNs may take samples of hair and skin, as well. On-site testing is done for blood sugar, specific gravity, hematocrit, blood gases and typing.

Education and Training

Registered nurses educate patients and family members regarding disease and pain management. They provide instructions about taking medications, wound care and outpatient services. It is the RNs job to ensure patients are well informed about taking care of themselves after discharge. This might include wellness and lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise. The goal is to give the patient whatever education they need to stay healthy after they leave the hospital.

RNs may also be in charge of educating staff members about hygiene, patient care and continuing education for LPNs.

Medical Procedures and Medication Disbursement

The RN role includes procedures such as starting IVs and inserting nasogastric tubes. With advanced training, some RNs also manage PICC lines and other forms of intravenous access. Nurses hand out medication in oral doses, intravenous solutions and through injections. Drug disbursement includes calculating proper dosages and setting up titrations.

Registered nurses are the key to patient care in a hospital. Whether working in the emergency room or on the floor, it is the RN that manages the treatment a patient receives and communicates regularly with the doctors and family. Employment opportunities for nurses are expected to rise over the next few years. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics anticipates a 26% increase in available nurse positions by the year 2020. Much of that increase will involve RN positions in hospitals. Now is the time to get a RN refresher course of the responsibilities of working in a hospital environment.

Nursing Scholarships

American Assembly for Men in Nursing (AAMN) American Cancer Society Doctoral Degree Scholarships in Cancer Nursing Gallagher Student Health Careers Scholarship
The Gates Millenium Scholars (GMS) National Black Nurses Association (NBNA) National Student Nurses’ Association (NSNA)
New Careers in Nursing (NCIN) Nurse Corps Scholarship (NCS) Nurses of Tomorrow
Nursing Economics Foundation Tylenol Future Care Scholarship American Holistic Nurses Association
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