WHAT DOES A NURSE DO??

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    Hi, I am in a BSN pogram, still working on my pre-requisites. I just started back to school after a 4 year marriage/kids break. I have wanted to be a nurse since high school because of what I saw of nursing, my love for science, helping people, etc. I was a phlebotomist for awhile working with in-patients and I really loved it. Having said all that, I still don't know exactly what a nurse *does* on a daily basis. Be it in a nursing home, ICU, L&D, Home health, etc please share what your duties are. Everything from the paperwork, meds, treatments, baths, feeding, I'm interested in it all! I want to make sure I am really going into something I would not only be good at but enjoy doing and also just because it is really interesting to me! Thanks!
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    Originally posted by ummnafeesah:
    Hi, I am in a BSN pogram, still working on my pre-requisites. I just started back to school after a 4 year marriage/kids break. I have wanted to be a nurse since high school because of what I saw of nursing, my love for science, helping people, etc. I was a phlebotomist for awhile working with in-patients and I really loved it. Having said all that, I still don't know exactly what a nurse *does* on a daily basis. Be it in a nursing home, ICU, L&D, Home health, etc please share what your duties are. Everything from the paperwork, meds, treatments, baths, feeding, I'm interested in it all! I want to make sure I am really going into something I would not only be good at but enjoy doing and also just because it is really interesting to me! Thanks!
    My best advice is to work part-time as a nurse's aide/tech in acute care -- will really give you an accurate idea of what nurses do. In addition, it will help you to polish your time management skills, prioritizing, etc. What do nurses do? We are the backbone of healthcare -- we do it all. I'll let the other nurses elaborate on this point. Good luck.
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    I agree with susanmary- best thing to do is get certified as an aide and do a little work- lots of places will let you work only one to two shifts a week. If you can't do that due to school or whatever, try to volunteer at a hospital or make an appointment to shadow a nurse in a few different departments. One thing thats tough is that we all do such different things. My daily experience as an ICU nurse is very different from my friends experiences in oncology, and different from ym other friend who does community health- I also knwo people who are ED nurses and L & D nurses, our days are so different that there is no way to generalize.
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    I'll tell you!! I work in NICU, so,here goes.
    Clock in. Get assignment, report. LOOK at baby. Check emergency stuff @ each pts bed: suction, bag and mask, code sheet, monitors and alarm settings. Check IVs: look at sites, check pumps, rates, look at bags, check ingredients in hyperals w/ orders; if pt is on drip(s), check those, including the math. Review Kardex for meds, labs, etc. If there are labs pending, check computer for results. If pt has a field trip that day (surgery, CAT scan, MRI, nuclear med, whatever), start planning for that. If on Breast milk, check frig for supply, thaw some out +/or fortify prn.
    Field ??'s from Doc's, participate in rounds to formulate a plan of care du jour, alert social workers of any problems w/families, +tox screens, work w/ d/c planners.
    Most babies get q3h feedings/assessments. This involves vital signs, tpr, bp, sat, transcutaneous monitor readings, record resp support settings (ventilator, nasal simv/cpap, nasal cannula, tent); suction, prn. IV sites are checked qh, esp if peripheral, amt infused. Assessment: observ: position, color, precordium, retractions, grunting, flaring, tachypnea, periodic breathing; ausc-lungs, heart, abd; feel [gently]: skin, refill, liver, abdomen, fontanelles and sutures. assess also for tone and movement, pain, state, i.e., awake, alert, sleeping (in which case, try not to bother the baby too much), crying, restless, irritable. Care will usually be diaper change, hygiene appropriate for individual baby, and finally, feeding: nipple, gavage, g-tube, assist w/breast feeding.
    On a sicker baby, I might need to get a blood gas, adjust vent settings, (w/ the respiratory care practitioner) adjust drips, assist w/ x-rays; liason w/consulting docs. Monitor baby if getting head/heart ultrasound, eeg, all done on the unit, I have to keep an eye on the baby to be sure he's tolerating it. Make sure everyone touching baby is healthy and washes their hands, including the surgeons [not as easy as it may seem].
    Families: for babies, families are crucial! Mom needs to visit, be updated about medical condition, hold baby is possible, nurse him. She needs to learn about his care--it will probably be different from a well-baby. Discharge teaching starts early, some babies are with us for months, and may have special needs when d/c'd.
    Call lights: in NICU, crying babies and monitor/pump alarms are our version of call lights. Crying babies need to held, comforted, changed, etc. Alarms are checked. Premies have apnea, their resp centers aren't developed; thay need to be stimulated to breathe; apnea can also be an early sign of sepsis. Septic work-ups may be indicated; feeding problems: their guts are immature, too, and can cause major problems unless watched closely.
    Document: all of the above! I know I haven't written everything, but I may have told you more than you want to know anyway!
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    Okay, you're in school..getting a BSN--which by the way will be an asset I think in the years to come...my advice??? Study hard..do your first year strictly on a med surg floor for experience,never stop learning once you become a nurse, and always look at both sides of every issue. As far as you're "being sure"...honey, you already have the heart!!!! we desperately need souls like you!!!..and yeah, working as a tech or aide would defintely firm things up for you!!!
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    prmnrs - Thanks, that was great!


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