Career Development

What Does a Staff Nurse Do?

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

A nurse is a healthcare professional who provides medical care to patients. They are responsible for diagnosing and treating illnesses, injuries, and other health conditions.

Nurses may specialize in certain areas of nursing practice, such as obstetrics or emergency medicine. Regardless of their specialty, all nurses must be able to perform a wide range of tasks—from administering medications to performing complex surgical procedures.

Staff Nurse Job Duties

Staff nurses have a wide range of responsibilities, which can include:

  • Maintaining the patient’s medical records by documenting assessments, treatments, discharge planning, and follow-up care
  • Communicating with physicians and other healthcare professionals regarding patients’ conditions and progress
  • Observing patients for signs of illness or distress to ensure that they are comfortable and safe
  • Providing direct patient care such as administering medications, changing bandages, and monitoring patients’ conditions
  • Participating in interdisciplinary rounds with other healthcare team members such as social workers and therapists to discuss the patient’s progress toward discharge from the facility
  • Preparing patients for surgery by administering preoperative medications and assisting with preoperative testing
  • Preparing operating rooms for surgery by sterilizing equipment and setting up equipment and supplies needed for surgery
  • Determining the type and quantity of medications needed by patients based on their diagnoses
  • Conducting laboratory tests such as urinalysis and blood tests

Staff Nurse Salary & Outlook

Staff nurses’ salaries vary depending on their level of education and experience, the size of the hospital or medical facility they work for, and the geographic location of their job.

  • Median Annual Salary: $76,500 ($36.78/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $122,000 ($58.65/hour)

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

Demand for healthcare services will increase as the large baby-boom population ages and people stay healthier longer. As a result, more healthcare providers will need to hire nurse aides to provide basic care to patients.

Related: In-Depth Staff Nurse Salary Guide

Staff Nurse Job Requirements

A staff nurse typically needs to have the following qualifications:

Education: Most employers require nurse staff nurses to have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in nursing. Some employers prefer candidates who have a master’s degree.

Nurses can earn their degree from a variety of nursing programs, including associate, bachelor’s and master’s programs. An associate degree takes two years to complete and offers a general education in nursing. A bachelor’s degree takes four years to complete and offers a more specialized education in nursing. A master’s degree takes two years to complete and offers a more specialized education in nursing.

Training & Experience: Most of a nurse’s training will take place during their education. Students will learn the basics of the job while earning their degree. After graduation, they will receive on-the-job training to learn the specifics of their role. This training will usually last for a few weeks or months and will include instruction on the hospital’s policies and procedures.

Certifications & Licenses: After completing your nursing program, you can earn additional certifications that may improve your job prospects and allow you to care for a broader range of patients.

Staff Nurse Skills

Staff nurses need the following skills in order to be successful:

Communication skills: As a staff nurse, you may be required to communicate with patients, other medical staff and patients’ family members. Effective communication skills can help you convey important information, answer questions and resolve issues. You can also use communication skills to build relationships with patients and their families, which can help you better care for them.

Empathy: Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. As a staff nurse, you may be caring for patients who are experiencing a variety of emotions, including fear, anxiety, sadness and anger. Empathy can help you to better understand your patients and provide them with the care they need.

Time management: As a nurse, you may have many tasks to complete in a short period of time. It’s important to prioritize your tasks and manage your time effectively to ensure you complete everything on time. You may also need to manage the time of other staff members to ensure they complete their duties.

Critical thinking: Critical thinking is the ability to make quick decisions based on the information you have. As a nurse, you may need to make important decisions about a patient’s treatment plan or diagnosis. It’s important to gather as much information as you can before making a decision.

Physical stamina: Staying physically active and maintaining stamina are important skills for a nurse to have. They often spend long periods of time on their feet and need to be able to lift and move patients. They also need to be able to perform CPR and other emergency procedures that require physical exertion.

Staff Nurse Work Environment

Staff nurses work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, clinics, physician’s offices, and home health agencies. They usually work 40 hours per week, but may work overtime or be on call to cover for absent colleagues. The work can be physically and emotionally demanding, as staff nurses must lift and move patients, provide emotional support, and make life-and-death decisions. They must also be able to handle the stress of working in a fast-paced environment and be able to deal with the sometimes-difficult patients and families.

Staff Nurse Trends

Here are three trends influencing how staff nurses work. Staff 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 Need for More Diverse Workforces

The nursing profession is becoming increasingly diverse, as more and more people from different backgrounds are entering the field. This trend is likely to continue in the future, as more and more patients are looking for healthcare providers who can understand their cultural needs.

Staff nurses will need to be prepared to work in diverse environments, where they will need to be able to communicate effectively with patients from different backgrounds. They will also need to be familiar with the cultural norms of the communities they serve.

Patient Advocacy Becomes a Greater Focus

As patient advocacy becomes a greater focus in healthcare, staff nurses will need to develop skills that allow them to better support patients and their families.

This includes providing emotional support, helping patients and families navigate the healthcare system, and advocating for patients when necessary. In addition, staff nurses will need to be well-versed in all aspects of patient care, including medication management, infection control, and patient safety.

More Attention Paid to Patient Safety

As hospitals and other healthcare facilities place a greater emphasis on patient safety, staff nurses will need to be prepared to handle a wide range of responsibilities.

Staff nurses will need to be able to identify potential hazards and risks to patients, and then take steps to mitigate those risks. This may include developing new procedures or protocols, training staff members, or simply making sure that everyone is following existing procedures.

How to Become a Staff Nurse

A career as a nurse is full of possibilities. You can specialize in a particular area of nursing, such as oncology or pediatrics, or you can choose to work in a different setting, such as a hospital, clinic, or home care. No matter which path you choose, it’s important to stay up-to-date on the latest research and best practices in your field.

One way to do this is by participating in continuing education courses and workshops. Another way is to join online communities where nurses share their experiences and knowledge with each other.

Related: How to Write a Staff Nurse Resume

Advancement Prospects

The most common way to advance in this career is to obtain additional education, which can lead to a higher-level position such as head nurse, charge nurse, or nurse manager. Some nurses may wish to specialize in a particular area of nursing, such as pediatrics, geriatrics, or oncology. Others may choose to become advanced practice nurses, which requires a master’s degree. Advanced practice nurses include nurse practitioners, nurse anesthetists, and nurse midwives. They have more responsibility and authority than staff nurses, and they often work independently.

Some nurses may wish to move into nursing education, which usually requires a master’s degree. Others may want to move into nursing administration, which also usually requires a master’s degree.

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