Nursing (Patient Care)

A registered nurse (RN) is a health care professional responsible for implementing the practice of nursing through the use of the nursing process in concert with other health care professionals. Registered nurses work as patient advocates for the care and recovery of the sick and maintenance of their health. In their work as advocates for the patient, RN's use the nursing process to assess, plan, implement, and evaluate nursing care of the sick and injured.

RN's, regardless of specialty or work setting, treat patients, educate patients and the public about various medical conditions, and provide advice and emotional support to patients' family members. RN's record patients' medical histories and symptoms, help perform diagnostic tests and analyze results, operate medical equipment, administer treatment and medications, and help with patient follow-up and rehabilitation.

RN's teach patients and their families how to manage their illness or injury,explaining post-treatment home care needs; diet, nutrition, and exercise programs; and self-administration of medication and physical therapy. Some RN's work to promote general health by educating the public on warning signs and symptoms of disease. RN's also might run general health screening or immunization clinics, blood drives, and public seminars on various conditions.

When caring for patients, RN's establish a plan of care or contribute to an existing plan. Plans may include numerous activities, such as administering medication, including careful checking of dosages and avoiding interactions; starting, maintaining, and discontinuing intravenous (IV) lines for fluid, medication, blood, and blood products; administering therapies and treatments; observing the patient and recording those observations; and consulting with physicians and other health care clinicians. Some RN's provide direction to licensed practical nurses other healthcare professionals and technicians regarding patient care. RN's with advanced educational preparation and training may perform diagnostic and therapeutic procedures and may have prescriptive authority.