The scope of practice for nursing staff have grown significantly in recent decades. Today there are a wide range of roles and specialties that nurses can move into once they have suitable levels of knowledge and qualifications. One of the earliest proponents of what people now refer to as modern nursing was Florence Nightingale. She was actively involved in caring for sick and injured soldiers during the Crimean war in 1854. In the military hospitals Florence found extremely unsanitary conditions which were directly contributing to the high mortality rates of the patients. By using an early method of clinical audit and dramatically improving the hygiene of the wards, Florence helped to significantly reduce the mortality rates of the wounded. Today, in 2022, modern nursing still adheres to some of the core concepts and principles that pioneers such as Florence Nightingale instigated whilst undertaking far more advanced roles. This article describes three key roles that nurses play in modern healthcare.
Caring for the elderly
With an aging world population comes the need to provide high quality nursing care to the elderly. Registered nurses and those who are specially trained to deal with elderly patients will commonly work on site at assisted living facilities, such as those offered by Brandywine. In these self-contained communities, the nurses are on hand to administer treatments and medications to their residents whilst also organizing care plans for those who are recovering from illness. Specialist nurses also work in the field of palliative care where they often deal with elderly patients who have terminal illnesses. In this setting they may be required to administer pain relief and other treatments whilst ensuring that the patient is kept as comfortable as possible during their final stages of life.
The role of the research nurse is a vital one in healthcare as it helps to drive improvements in the industry. Research nurses may often organize and evaluate medical trials when new drugs are being tested. Often in these situations two groups of patients are selected for the trials with one group being given the new medication and the other being given a placebo. After the trials are completed the patient outcomes are analyzed and the efficacy of the new treatment can accurately be determined. Research nursing is a well-paid profession with the average salary of a research nurse being in the region of $60,000 per year in America.
In the community
Community nurses give healthcare systems the ability to treat and manage patients outside of a hospital setting. Often, nurse practitioners will specialize in community-based work and will travel to a wide range of local communities to see their patients. Such nurses will deal with a broad range of patients who may have complex health and social needs. They may offer care and treatment to patients who are recovering from injuries in their homes or have mental health needs that require specialized care plans to be created for them. In short, the role of community nurse is characterized by a wide range of patient needs and the requirement to have a broad clinical knowledge.
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