Have you been accepted into a nursing program?  If so, Congratulations!!  Maybe you are just thinking about choosing a career in nursing.  Either way let me welcome you into the wonderful world of nursing!  Do you know what nurses really do?  Read on.  I hope to give you a good understanding before you get started.


At First Thought

I remember applying to nursing school at age seventeen.  I wanted to work with children, but had no interest in becoming a teacher.  Nursing seemed like a great choice. My Aunt was a nurse.  I knew my school nurses and saw nurses at my doctor’s office. I’d never been hospitalized, but I watched hospital nurses on T.V.  The hours were flexible: part time, full time, per diem.  There will always be sick people, so I could always get a job.


I thought I knew what I was getting into.  Like most seventeen year olds, I had all the answers.  Nursing would be great and not too hard, just messy at times.  Well, not too messy; that’s what nursing assistants are for.  The doctors did all the hard work and diagnosed the patients.  Nurses just followed the doctor’s orders.   I’d hang I.V.s, pass out medications, change dressings and watch for more orders to come in.  No sweat.


First Day of Nursing School

“Nursing is not an easy major.” said the faculty. She went on to say “Plan on studying for at least four hours per night as well as eight hours daily on the weekends. “Say goodbye to your social life.” they told us.  What else besides all the nursing procedures was there to know?  They talked about critical thinking, the nursing process, care plans and nursing diagnosis.  There is such a thing as a nursing diagnosis?  What do nurses REALLY do? I was glad to find out that many of my classmates were as surprised as I. Just in case you aren’t sure, read on.


What Nurses Do

It is true that nursing procedures such as giving medications, taking vital signs, dressing changes, bed baths, blood sugars, enemas etc., are part of the job but the real nursing skills are not visible.  It’s the constant watching over the patient’s current state and comparing it to how they were an hour ago, 4 hours ago and so on.  I had no idea nursing actions were more about observations, nursing knowledge and many other factors.  Below is my brief definition of what a nurse does.

A nurse’s role is to check patients from head to toe physically, emotionally, cognitively and psychologically.  Along with examining their patient, they review the patient’s history, current diagnosis, lab values, medications, prescribed orders, scheduled diagnostics, and at times family input. Using all that gathered information they compose a plan as to how they should best care for their patient.

A nurse always has two goals in mind.  One goal is to formulate ways to bring their patients toward a better state of health. The other goal is to carefully pick up on subtle, or not so subtle, signs and symptoms that their patient is regressing from a better state of health.  The later goal requires a nurse to know what actions to take in sometimes emergent situations.  By knowing what to watch out for and what to do when a decline in health happens is how nurses save lives.

Part 2. What to Expect in Nursing School.  >> 

Part 3. Exposing Nursing Knowledge. >>

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