After a physician admits you to the hospital, prescribes medication and issues other instructions, a staff nurse is the person responsible for your day-to-day direct care. Nurses work with nursing assistants to carry out the doctor's orders, monitor your condition and discuss your progress with the doctor. Whether you need medication, assistance or information about your stay at the hospital, the staff nurse is the person who can provide you with what you need or find the right person who can provide it to you.
Direct Patient Care
A staff nurse provides direct care to an assigned group of patients. The nurse acclimates the patient and her family to the room and the hospital, assesses the physical and mental well-being of the patient and confers with the physician as necessary. Staff nurses also maintain adequate supplies in a patient's room, sterilize instruments used in routine examinations and respond to patient calls for assistance.
Staff nurses administer medication to patients as directed by a physician. They coordinate with the pharmacy to obtain medicine, verify the medicine received against the medication order, explain the medication and possible side effects to patients, administer the medication, enter the details in the patient's chart and monitor patients for reactions to medication. When medication samples are used, a staff nurse checks the expiration date of the samples and ensures that they are recorded on the patient's chart. Staff nurses may request additional medicine from a doctor based on their observations or a patient's request.
The staff nurse supervises the nursing assistants assigned to patients under her direct care. Staff nurses coach nursing assistants, provide help or guidance as required and provide positive feedback to nursing assistants when they perform well. A staff nurse may evaluate the performance of nursing assistants in the unit or may provide feedback for an assistant's performance evaluation. Staff nurses make recommendations for how to provide better and more efficient care to patients.
Safety and Confidentiality
Staff nurses understand and follow all hospital policies and procedures. They adhere to all safety precautions and initiate proper action when there is an emergency. A staff nurse protects the confidentiality of a patient's information, restricts access to a patient's chart and responds to requests for information only from those authorized to receive it. When there is a shift change, the outgoing staff nurse briefs the incoming nurse on each patient's condition and progress.
Steve McDonnell's experience running businesses and launching companies complements his technical expertise in information, technology and human resources. He earned a degree in computer science from Dartmouth College, served on the WorldatWork editorial board, blogged for the Spotfire Business Intelligence blog and has published books and book chapters for International Human Resource Information Management and Westlaw.