How do nurses know all of these diseases?

  1. I haven't started nursing school yet. I see nurses explain diseases that I have never heard of like it is nothing. I was wondering. Do you learn these diseases on the job or in nursing school? Do they teach you a certain number of diseases and how to treat them and you learn the rest on your own? Also, as a nurse, when you receive a new patient, do you go and research the diagnosis on a website or in a book? Just trying to learn as much as I can about the field I plan to be in for the long haul.

    Thanks alot for your help!
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    About bcskittlez

    Joined: Jul '06; Posts: 211; Likes: 23

    12 Comments

  3. by   Katnip
    Nursing school teaches a lot of the theory of a lot of diseases. Of course, you don't memorize them, but you do learn them pretty well. Then everything starts to get reinforced through job experience, and yes going back and refreshing your memory of what was learned in school.

    I've come across disorders nobody has ever heard of and had to look it up. So have docs. Nobody knows everything about everything.
  4. by   ICRN2008
    If I have a patient at clinicals with a disease I'm not familiar with, I go on Up-to-Date (most hospitals have this computer program) and look it up. I also did A LOT of studying during Med-Surg class. Spending just five minutes a day learning about a disease really adds up over time. I am surprised at how much I've learned over the past year.
  5. by   bcskittlez
    Thanks, I really appreciate your knowledge.
  6. by   TazziRN
    Just like anything else you study: you learn the basics in school and then refine that knowledge over the years. And you keep on learning new things that school never mentioned. Things also change very quickly in medicine: treatments that were considered up to date five years ago are now obsolete for some things. I can remember when giving thrombolytics was the treatment of choice for evolving MI's, and then the cath lab opened up. I still give thrombolytics but I no longer have the drip rates in my head, I have to look them up.

    Hint for nursing school: try not to get overwhelmed at the amount of stuff you are expected to learn.....it will fall into place quicker than you think!!
  7. by   CIRQL8
    If I may paraphrase and add to the above:

    Nursing school (Note: School - not training! Dogs are trained, Nurses are educated) is a great foundation. You learn basics, and how things are related to each other. You even learn some basic, and a couple of exotic diseases.

    Than being said, nothing beats experience. Listen to the doctors, read the chart notes, and look up a thing or two. Especially if you are in a teaching institution - listen to the attendings grill the students and residents (and the residents grill the students). You will learn bunches. You will add what you learned to what you know, and relate it all together. Pretty soon you will be able to make an educated guess, look it up later, and perhaps be very pleased with yourself.
  8. by   bcskittlez
    I really appreciate it! Thanks for the tips..:icon_hug:
  9. by   Pepper The Cat
    Don't forgot your best source for info about a new disease/medical condition. The patient themselves! If it is a rare or little seen condition, the patient has propably spent a large portion of their lifes explaining it! I know that first hand - I have neurofibromatosis, which many people have never even heard of!
  10. by   Antikigirl
    I learned most of them on the job and in nursing school just by my wish for knowledge! I looked and still look up things I don't remember, never knew, or need a refresher on! Thank Goodness for the internet and my facilities library that has access to about everything!!!!!!!!!

    No, it comes to you...some times you have to learn on the fly...but I do the best I can in those circumstances and then go home and research! I will also ask other nurses or the MD to help fill in the blanks too (I am NOT afraid to ask questions!).

    Don't let that scare you...or when you look at medications you will be terrified..LOL! Don't worry about those either...facilities are typically mandated to have drug books, and hospitals have pharamisists that I call if I have questions!

    You will get it, heck if I can....trust me! LOL!
  11. by   bcskittlez
    Thank you so much for the encouragement!
  12. by   Princess74
    You study like 60 hours a week.
  13. by   Medic2RN
    Another thing that has helped me tremendously is to know and understand the pathophysiology of the body. In order to understand how the different diseases affect the body, you must first know how the body works normally. Personally, I retain more this way. I had the same question you did in the beginning. It'll come with experience and persistent learning.
    Best of luck to you!! :wink2:
  14. by   KRVRN
    If you know which body systems the disease affects, you can usually get the gist of what your nursing care and interventions will be.

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