UNDERSTANDING NURSING PRACTICE. VOLUME i PART 1.
The Unique Clinical Roles of The Registered Nurse.
Ayinla Daniel, RN
The nursing profession is one profession that has come a very long way, from being a profession with just the title or tag of a vocation subordinate to the Physician to one independent, housing its own unique practices supported by an evidence-based created using the scientific process & scientific principles.
Like every other medical profession that gradually took its time to become what it is today, the nursing profession has also gone through formative stages, from one age to another, one century to the other one, the roles of the registered nurse gradually changes, as social and cultural waves swept, the profession had to compulsorily change with the tide, enjoying the forced external influences of human development and fortunately it still changes today, with the registered nurse picking up more complex clinical responsibilities and getting more involved directly with decision making in patient/client care.
The core of medical practice is unarguably the patient/client. Medical practitioners who work day and night are simply working around the patient/client, they are the spotlight, the centre of all that is done in the world of medicine. Without the patient/client, there definitely will be no need to train registered nurses, physicians, pharmacists or medical laboratory scientists. But alas! We have people who are falling sick on a daily basis, who need care, so these medical professionals are needed, each one of them having their unique roles, though most of the time these roles seem to intertwine, there may be a mix of roles, but still, there are fine boundaries that intelligently demarcate all that they do for the patient/client.
In the care of the patient/client, all professionals are extremely important. No one is viewed as unimportant or insignificant, from the health assistants to the consultants, they are all working as one organism, an interdisciplinary team, whose primary focus is the wellbeing of the patient/client.
Happily, by virtue of professional responsibility which was given to them by history or providence as the case may be, the registered nurse happens to be the professional who is constantly with the patient, by their bedside.
This closeness, this mandatory role of the registered nurse places them in a very vital locus on the plan of care for patients receiving medical attention. This also is a great reason why the registered nurse must be aware of their professional duties which are extremely important and this professional awareness must spur them to be the best that they can be while they give more than 60% of medical care required.
The registered nurse is a compulsory link that exists between the patient and other professional members of the interdisciplinary team. They are the one responsible for implementing care, which on its own is a very wide and delicate aspect of clinical practice. It is one thing for the physician to prescribe and draw out a plan of care, it is also another game for these prescribed plans to be properly implemented.
In this part, I did not write about specific clinical duties of the registered nurse (I only made a broad list of some of these roles) I only write from a more general point of view, to talk in more details about these clinical roles in the next part.
Now, as I categorically mention the clinical roles of Registered Nurses, I want us to understand that these roles are very broad, it will take the study of more materials & examination of other perspectives to properly understand each of them, but I will just write on the surface, giving us necessary basic information.
One must also understand that with the advancement in the nursing profession, there are advanced nursing cadres that allow registered nurses the opportunity to operate independently or with a wider degree of autonomy. Registered nurses of this category are required to have more advanced training and rigorous studies before they can be given the opportunity of carrying out more advanced clinical responsibilities like diagnosing, prescribing and interpreting more complex diagnostic results, which typically look like the traditional responsibilities of a Physician.
Now, to just mention the clinical roles of the registered nurse – these roles include:
- Assessment and Observation.
- Implementation of Treatment Plans.
- Administration of Prescribed Medications.
- Direct Care of Patient (which should span through the three domains of health; physical, mental and spiritual).
- Advocacy (Creating professional links between the patient and other professionals of the medical team)
- Health Education.
- Research (A more advanced role, but I choose to see it as a basic clinical role of every registered nurse).
This is not an exhaustive list, there are other roles that we may not really take notice of, either because they merge into these broad roles or we have not been able to give them enough details and descriptions, but the aforementioned roles should be able to provide a plethora of ideas that should be able to inform anyone about the clinical roles of the registered nurse.
More advanced roles, like the roles of the Nurse Practitioner, will not be discussed in this issue, it is one we will surely discuss in a later edition, but the roles I write about here are considered to be traditional clinical roles of registered nurses.
In the next part, I will write with more details about each of these clinical roles and try to provide enough information that will give substance to what we are discussing to enable readers to grasp the nitty-gritty of this theme.
Read the Introductory aspect here.
Registered Nurses should be encouraged to develop their clinical skills, for this is the very core of Nursing Practice.