A Day in the Life of a Nurse

By Brenda on January 3rd, 2012


Have you ever thought of the perfect career helping others and getting paid for it?  If so, nursing may be just up your alley.  Learn about the typical workday and see if it works for you.

The Typical Day

A typical day in nursing requires at least eight hours in the day, evening or night.  Each shift involves balancing patients, completing paperwork and taking care of a variety of other priorities.  A nurse begins their shift being briefed with some important history regarding each patient.  The day is anything but mundane.

Most nurses work in healthcare facilities, such as hospitals, clinics or home health centers.  The environment is well-lit, comfortable and most of the time, fast-paced.  Nurses spend a lot of their time on their feet, visiting patients and administering to their needs.  Walking, bending and lifting may be required of the nurse, when moving patients in and out of their bed or assisting with ambulation.

From the moment a nurse arrives in the clinic or hospital they are prepared to work.  There is no sitting around but rather, seeing to the needs of their patients.  A warm and compassionate, yet strong and deliberate personality is required in order to successfully accomplish the role of a nurse.  Nurses must be teachable and compliant in order to take orders from the doctors and administrative staff, but strong enough in their own capabilities to be the leader they are required to be.

A typical workday of a hospital nurse begins with reading through patient documentation and medical records that were noted by the nurse from the previous shift.  The records are important to brief and include critical information such as lab reports, medications, patient orders and diagnoses.  Any changes to a patient’s mental and physical status should be noted by the nurse.

A Nursing Shift

As the shift begins, the nurse tends to the needs of his or her patients.  Routine examinations and assessments, blood sample collections, medication administration, grooming and hygiene routines, and assisting patients in getting out of bed are all commonplace for the nursing duties.  The nurse may perform patient care that involves medical treatment or they may tend to getting water and making the bed.  No duties are considered out of the ordinary.

Normal patient rounds occur approximately every four hours unless the patient is experiencing problems, in which doctor intervention is needed.  The nurse may be required to focus more time and attention on the special needs patient and be relieved of her patient load.  Teamwork is a major part of nursing in order to keep operations running smoothly and effectively.  Nurses may share patients or tag-team care for special needs patients in order to get through a shift more effectively.  Nurses may collaborate on the care of a particular patient in order to provide the best possible care for that individual.

As the shift comes to a close, the nurse is required to add data to a patient’s medical records.  This information may include updated documentation on medications, patient needs and any changes in mental state.  When the shift change occurs, the nurse is required to update the arriving nurse of any significant information about the patients she has treated and cared for during her shift.  Important documentation is added to the patient’s chart and the nurse says goodbye to the patients and introduces the new shift nurse.


Category: Careers and Employment,Medical and Nursing