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What are the Roles of a Nurse?

Nurses play many roles in the health care world today. The exact role a nurse plays often depends on the education and certification they hold. A CNA, or certified nursing assistant, is usually the least educated nurse. They provide direct patient care. They help patient with personal hygiene and help them become ambulatory. They are the people who work with patients on a daily personal level. They record information they find and notify other medical personnel to any changes that the patient shows. They help educate patients and their families in how to handle basic care for someone who is having troubles with personal care.

The LPN (or LVN) is the next level up in education. The LPN often has duties that overlap with both the CNA and the RN. The LPN takes vital signs and records them. They monitor for any changes and notify doctors of problems. They help patients prepare for tests and checkups. They monitor medications and make sure the patients take their medications as prescribed by the doctor. They can monitor IV bags, replace catheters, perform wound care, and help with oxygen administration. They help with patient hygiene as needed. They can do their job in hospitals, homes, nursing facilities, and rehabilitation facilities, among others.

RNs or registered nurses are usually the largest group of nurses in most hospitals. RNs generally combine patient care with leadership skills. With CNAs and LPNs handling many of the day to day care needs, the RNs concentrate on providing patients with the care and education they need. They monitor patient progression and can request specialists to come in for assessments. They administer IVs. The RN works with the patients in curing problems that disease cause problems while doctors work directly on the disease. For example, a doctor can treat a diabetic's disease. The RN works to educate the patient in how to care for themselves as diabetics.

Nurses can also take on roles in administration, education, and in advanced care positions. Many hospital administration positions are in the hands of nurses. They monitor patient care and help with care coordination. They supervise other medical personnel. Nurse educators are the ones that help train nurses of the future. They educate at all levels of nursing care from the CNA up to the nurse specialists. Advanced care positions can include certified nurse anesthetists and certified nurse midwives. These roles require advanced education and training in most cases.