Career Development

What Does a Nurse Do?

Find out what a nurse does, how to get this job, and what it takes to succeed as a nurse.

Nurses are the frontline professionals in the healthcare industry. They provide direct care to patients, working closely with doctors and other medical professionals to ensure that they receive the best possible treatment.

Nurses may specialize in certain areas of nursing practice, such as obstetrics or pediatrics. Regardless of their area of focus, all nurses must be able to perform a wide range of tasks, including taking vital signs, administering medications, performing diagnostic tests, and providing emotional support to patients and their families.

Nurse Job Duties

Nurses have a wide range of responsibilities, which can include:

  • Performing physical exams and recording patient health histories, including vital signs such as blood pressure, heart rate, temperature, height, and weight
  • Providing education to patients about their illnesses or injuries and helping them learn how to manage their care at home
  • Preparing and administering medications according to physician orders or standard medical procedure
  • Observing and documenting patient behavior, possibly using clinical assessment tools or instruments such as scales or surveys
  • Performing basic clinical tasks such as cleaning wounds, taking blood samples, inserting catheters, and collecting urine specimens
  • Providing emotional support, comfort, and reassurance to patients with serious illnesses or injuries during treatment
  • Helping patients with personal hygiene activities such as bathing, dressing, feeding, or walking
  • Coordinating and supervising the work of other nursing staff members such as nursing assistants and certified nursing assistants (CNAs)
  • Performing diagnostic tests and ordering lab work to help determine the cause of a patient’s illness or injury

Nurse Salary & Outlook

The salary of a nurse can vary depending on a number of factors, including their level of education, years of experience, and the type of nursing they are doing.

  • Median Annual Salary: $66,500 ($31.97/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $112,000 ($53.85/hour)

The employment of nurses is expected to grow faster than average over the next decade.

The large aging population is expected to drive demand for healthcare services. As people age, they typically require more medical care. In addition, because many nurses work in hospitals, demand for these workers will depend on how quickly healthcare demand increases in general over the next decade.

Nurse Job Requirements

Nurses typically need to have the following qualifications:

Education: All nurses must have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree. The degree should be in nursing or a related field, such as health care administration or community health.

Some employers prefer nurses with a master’s degree, and some facilities require a master’s degree. A master’s degree in nursing takes about two years to complete and includes coursework and clinical practice.

Training & Experience: After earning their degree, nurses must complete a clinical training program to earn their license. These programs are usually part of a university program and last between six and 12 months. During this time, nurses will work under the supervision of a registered nurse to gain experience in a hospital or clinic.

Certifications & Licenses: After completing your education, you must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN) to get your license to practice as a registered nurse. Some states may require you to pass another exam, such as a state-specific one. Check with your state board to make sure you are prepared for your state’s requirements.

Nurse Skills

Nurses need the following skills in order to be successful:

Communication: Communication is the act of conveying information to another person. Nurses must be able to communicate effectively with patients, other medical professionals and patients’ families. They must also be able to communicate complex medical information in a way that is easy to understand.

Empathy: Empathy is the ability to understand another person’s feelings and perspective. Nurses use empathy to comfort patients and their families during difficult situations. They also use empathy to understand their patients’ needs and provide the best care.

Organization: Nurses use organization skills to keep track of patient information, medical records, treatment plans and other important documents. They also use these skills to ensure they complete all of their duties on time.

Critical thinking: Critical thinking is the ability to make quick decisions based on the information you have. Nurses often need to make quick decisions about patient care, so it’s important for them to be able to think through a situation and make the best decision possible.

Physical stamina: Staying physically fit can help you maintain your stamina throughout your workday. Nurse shifts can be long and physically demanding, so it’s important to stay in shape to be able to perform your job well.

Nurse Work Environment

Nurses work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, clinics, physician’s offices, and home health agencies. They may also work in schools, camps, and other community settings. Nurses who work in hospitals may work in a variety of units, such as medical-surgical, critical care, obstetrical, and pediatric units. They may also work in specialties, such as oncology, cardiology, or in the operating room. Nurses who work in clinics and physician’s offices generally work regular business hours, although some may work evenings or weekends. Home health nurses may work irregular hours, including nights and weekends, to meet the needs of their patients. Nurses who work in community settings may also have irregular hours.

Nurse Trends

Here are three trends influencing how nurses work. Nurses will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

The Importance of Patient Experience

The patient experience is becoming increasingly important in the healthcare industry, as more and more patients are looking for a positive experience when they visit a hospital or clinic. This means that nurses will need to focus on providing excellent care and customer service.

Nurses can utilize this trend by developing strong communication skills and building relationships with patients and their families. They can also work to create a positive environment in which patients feel comfortable asking questions and expressing concerns.

Patient Advocacy Will Be More Important

As patients become more involved in their own care, nurse professionals will need to develop skills in patient advocacy. This includes helping patients understand their rights and responsibilities as well as advocating for them in situations where they may not be able to speak for themselves.

Nurses who are able to effectively communicate with patients and other members of the healthcare team will be in high demand in the years to come. By developing these skills now, nurses will be better prepared for the future.

Technology Is Changing How Nurses Work

The use of technology is changing how nurses work in many different ways. For example, many hospitals are using electronic medical records (EMRs) to track patient information. This allows nurses to spend less time on paperwork and more time caring for patients.

In addition, nurses are now using social media and online forums to connect with other professionals and share ideas. This has led to an increased emphasis on collaboration and teamwork within the nursing profession.

How to Become a Nurse

A career as a nurse is full of opportunities for growth. As you progress in your nursing career, you may choose to specialize in a particular area of nursing, such as oncology or pediatrics. You may also choose to move into leadership roles, such as nurse manager or nurse administrator. No matter what stage of your nursing career you’re at, there are always new challenges and opportunities to explore.

Related: How to Write a Nurse Resume

Advancement Prospects

Nurses may advance their careers by taking on additional responsibilities, such as becoming a charge nurse or a nurse manager. These roles often come with a pay increase and may require additional education, such as a master’s degree in nursing. Some nurses may also choose to specialize in a certain area of nursing, such as critical care, pediatrics, or oncology. Specialized nurses often make more money than general nurses and may have more opportunities for career advancement. Nurses may also choose to advance their careers by becoming nurse educators or nurse researchers. These roles often require a master’s or doctorate degree in nursing.

Nurse Job Description Example

At [CompanyX], we provide high-quality, compassionate healthcare to our patients. We are currently seeking a registered nurse to join our team. The ideal candidate will have a minimum of two years of nursing experience, as well as experience with our electronic medical records system. They will be responsible for providing direct patient care, as well as collaborating with the interdisciplinary team to develop and implement patient care plans. They will also be responsible for providing patient and family education. The nurse will work in a fast-paced environment and must be able to prioritize and multitask.

Duties & Responsibilities

  • Provide direct patient care, including assessment, diagnosis, planning, intervention, and evaluation
  • Serve as a patient advocate, providing emotional support and guidance throughout the healthcare process
  • Collaborate with interdisciplinary team members to develop and implement individualized treatment plans
  • Educate patients and families on disease prevention, health maintenance, and available resources
  • Monitor patients’ progress and adjust care plans accordingly
  • Delegate tasks to nursing assistants and licensed practical nurses, and supervise their work
  • Keep accurate patient records and document all care provided
  • Administer medications and treatments according to physicians’ orders
  • Perform diagnostic tests, such as blood pressure and glucose level checks
  • Respond to emergencies and provide resuscitation if necessary
  • Maintain a clean and safe environment for patients
  • Participate in continuing education opportunities to keep abreast of latest developments in nursing

Required Skills and Qualifications

  • Registered nurse with valid state license
  • Bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN) preferred
  • 1-2 years of experience in a hospital setting
  • CPR certification
  • Ability to lift 50 pounds
  • Excellent communication, organizational, and time management skills

Preferred Skills and Qualifications

  • Master’s degree in nursing (MSN)
  • 3-5 years of experience in a hospital setting
  • Specialty certification in area of practice
  • Teaching experience
  • Experience working with electronic medical records (EMR)

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