A nurse may practice in a wide range of settings. Although the most common is in a hospital , nurses may also work in other places such as in the home of the patient, in residential care, at schools, in research environments, and other medical clinics. They may also work in the public health sector to advocate for positive patient health outcomes in the health system. Each of these workplaces of a nurse is covered in more detail below.
The majority of nurses work in a hospital-based setting. In this environment, a nurse works alongside other health professionals in a medical team to provide optimal care to patients.
The role of the nurse is to advocate for the patient and monitor for any changes in their health to act accordingly. They often follow the directions of other health professionals who make the primary decisions about the care of the patients but are also involved in the decision-making process and may offer observations and advice to advocate for the patient.
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In-home and residential care
Nurses may also practice in residential care homes, particularly for elderly or disabled patients. In this environment, nurses often have more control over the care of the patients, as they assist in day-to-day care on an ongoing basis and have a thorough understanding of each patient’s overall health. Some nurses may also provide care to patients in the patient’s own home, which is usually on a regular basis.
Some nurses also practice in a research setting, such as in a pharmaceutical company testing the safety and efficacy of new medications. They may be involved in administering the medications to the patients and monitoring the effects. Throughout this process, it is the responsibility of the nurse to care for the patient and ensure that they receive the care that is required.
Cruise ships and military
Nurses are also needed to provide patient care in other settings outside of the ordinary healthcare environment. This may include children at schools, passengers of a cruise ship, or soldiers in the military. Some nurses practice in an industrial or occupational health setting to provide care to workers.
Naturally, the role of the nurse in these environments adapts to the particular needs of the situation and the skills needed may differ. However, the primary task - to provide care to all individuals, both sick and healthy - remains true for all of these settings.
There are several health and safety hazards that are associated with the various workplaces of a nurse, including:
- Exposure to biological agents such as viruses and other microbes
- Exposure to chemical products such as cleaning products, drugs, and latex
- Physical exertion when lifting heavy loads or walking or standing for long periods of time
- Exposure to radiation and lasers used in therapy
- Mental and emotional stress associated with care for others
To minimize the harm associated with these hazards, it is important for nurses to wash their hands frequently and keep the workplace as clean as possible. They should also be aware of the risks so that they can endeavor to reduce their impact on his or her health.
Reviewed by Susha Cheriyedath, MSc