Most people have an idea of what nurses do from medical TV series and movies. Odds are good that you’ve seen a nurse in action at some point in your life and can imagine a few tasks. Although the general population is pretty familiar with what a nurse does, there are some huge misconceptions out there about nursing job duties.

Nursing has been considered one of the most trusted professions out there. In fact, nurses took the top spot in Gallup’s recent poll as the American Nurses Association (ANA) celebrates the “Year of the Nurse” in 2020, which was designated by the World Health Organization (WHO) in honor of the 200th birth anniversary of Florence Nightingale. (Source)

Let us take a look at the duties of a nurse that most people don’t know about to give you a better look behind the scenes of this impactful career.

1. Identifying, analyzing, and solving problems

Nurses are at the forefront of patient care. They are the first to assess every patient’s particular situation. They catch any changes, knowing which symptoms might be expected, and which are indicators of a deeper problem. While nurses do not make medical diagnoses, they use patient data to make care decisions on a regular basis. When a physician is called about a concern, the physician is usually anticipating that nurses will also have a recommendation for how to proceed.

2. Teaching

Nurses regularly educate others about an illness, procedures, and symptoms they experience in the healthcare environment, as well as their plan of care upon leaving. They communicate with their patients how to take care of themselves or the family members once they get home. They make sure patients can go home with extremely complex care regimens and that the family is prepared to handle it all.

More experienced nurses also act as a guide, expert, and role model for new or less-experienced nurses. Mentoring increases nurses’ competence and prepares future nurses for the important future role in nursing.

3. Advocating for patients beyond the hospital environment

On occasion, nurses respond to their patients’ care needs long after their time at a healthcare facility. This holistic approach to nursing allows nurses to look at patients from a physical, mental, and spiritual perspective. They consider this as a rewarding part of the job as they get to know their patients and provide assistance in a broader context like connecting them with a chaplain, working with social services to address food insecurity, and many more. Effective communication is an integral part of this “duty.”

4. Caring for the patient’s loved ones

Nurses also provide a lot of emotional support while taking care of everyone in the room, which includes the patient, of course, but also family members, friends, and loved ones who may be experiencing devastating emotions. Sometimes caring for loved ones also means letting them take some of your time or slow you down when you have a lot to do.

5. Staying up-to-date in nursing and healthcare

With the continuing advancements in healthcare, nurses are compelled to learn specific programs and embrace new technologies as they arrive. Nurses must have the initiative to stay relevant in these rapidly changing times and keep tabs on new developments in nursing care.

When they have time, nurses take review classes, seek various certifications, or pursue higher learning in areas such as education, entrepreneurship, and other non-clinical nursing practices. Nurses work in many different settings, and have way more specialized career options than most people realize.

Nursing is such a huge and diverse profession. Everyone who chooses it as a career has the chance to put their own unique talents and experiences to use. Check out our article, “Entering the Workforce in Nursing” to learn more about what you’ll need to get started.

For more nursing tips and resources that can help you establish good communication, keep on visiting this blog. You can also check out Nurse X’s and O’s podcast where you can learn useful insights to become a successful nurse.