What are the Responsibilities of the Nurse to the Employer?
You might think that a nurse is like any other employee. Actually, nurses have to find a delicate balance between their employer's requirements and the nurses' legal obligations. They have an employer that pays their salary. However, certain legal statutes also bind them as do rules put forward by other governing agencies. Nurses have a legal and moral obligation to do certain things and not to do certain things. When their employer asks them to do anything that conflicts with those obligations, there are usually guidelines to help resolve them.
Nurses are responsible for regular employee functions required of other employees such as following policies, showing up for work when scheduled, and following orders from superiors. Their employers depend on them to do the work and get the job done. They have an obligation to provide the level of service their employer demands. They must follow company policies that do not conflict with legal obligations. They have to make appropriate reports and documentation as required by their employers. They must follow orders given by superiors that do not conflict with legal obligations.
Nurses do have some legal obligations that may come into conflict with their employers at times. In most states, nurses cannot take on certain tasks based on their education and experience levels. For instance, a CNA is not supposed to administer medications. An RN cannot perform medical procedures reserved for doctors. If their employer wants them to do these duties, there is a conflict. In most states, nurses have a legal obligation to report certain situations such as child or elder abuse. An employer cannot demand they ignore such situations. Most medical employers have guidelines on how to resolve these issues. However, in some cases, it has to go outside the employer/employee relationship for resolution. In some cases, court cases become a necessary part of the equation.
When nurses decide to leave a company, sometimes the employer will threaten to report that nurse for "abandonment of patients." That is not a charge likely to stick under most circumstances. Most employers of nurses have more than one nurse on staff. A nurse usually does not receive an assignment exclusively to one patient. They likely share care of a patient with other nurses. That group care alleviates the nurse from this charge. This common issue arises out of misunderstandings of what the responsibilities of a nurse are to an employer.