When visiting an emergency room, an RN (Registered Nurse) is often the first point of contact that you will have with a medical professional.
Aside from emergency rooms, RNs can be found in many different healthcare facilities – such as a physician’s office, nursing home and other long-term care facilities, and outpatient clinics. Registered nurses can also often be found in schools, community centres, and some even serve in the military.
Nurses help take care of patients of all ages, genders, ethnicities and social situations. As such, they are required to have broad depth and knowledge about all aspects of health and illnesses, global health issues, the different healthcare systems, as well as the pathophysiology of different diseases and health conditions. In addition to being the first point of contact for patients, nurses also help to plan and coordinate ongoing care for individuals and their families.
As dealing with a health crisis can often cause patients to feel anxious and overwhelmed, it is a RNs job – though sometimes challenging – to help create a friendly environment and put patients at ease. Patients should feel comfortable in asking nurses any questions relating to their health, which can then be deferred to the patients’ attending physician. These could be questions about what type of medical care they should expect, to questions about any procedures such as diagnostic tests (i.e. medical imaging.)
Some other responsibilities for RNs include taking patient health histories, performing physical exams or being on hand when a physical exam is performed by a physician, coordinate care with other health professionals, direct and supervise the care that is provided by other medical staff, counsel patients on their health, provide patients with health promotion and education, conduct health research, as well as help make critical decisions relating to patient care, and administer medications, treat wounds, and other types of interventions.
It is important to note, however, that RNs are not the only type of nurse. There are also RPNs (Registered Practical Nurses). The main focus of an RPN is on those with less severe, less complex health situations that are easily treatable; as well as NPs (Nurse Practitioners). Unlike RNs, a Nurse Practitioner can see a patient on their own without referring cases to a physician if they deem a doctor’s opinion isn’t necessary. NPs are able to diagnose and treat acute illness, as well as administer and prescribe patients with any necessary medications.