Home Career Tips 6 ways the role of a nurse differs in various healthcare settings

6 ways the role of a nurse differs in various healthcare settings

by Maurice A. Miller

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Nurses are crucial in managing patients’ physical requirements, treating ailments, and preventing illnesses.

As highly-trained medical team members, most nurses have diverse skills and responsibilities that differ from patient to patient. Knowing what is expected of you as a nurse can be helpful if you are starting in the field.

Essential responsibilities for nurses

The duties of a nurse can change based on where they work, what licenses they have, and how long they have been in the field. Here are some of the most popular jobs that nurses have:

Record medical history and symptoms

Nurses write down and keep correct records of their patient’s health to ensure they receive the proper care. Most nurses start by asking patients about their medical background.

They desire to be informed about former assessments and operations, present medications, allergies, and essential health data regarding the patient’s next of kin. Nurses might also ask patients about symptoms and write down their vital signs.

During the visit, if the patient gets a new diagnosis, medicine, or treatment plan, it may be a nurse’s job to add this information to their medical record.

Conduct physical examinations

To gauge the patient’s general health, nurses typically perform a physical examination at the outset of each appointment. This might include registering the patient’s temperature, noting their weight, regulating their heart rate, and frequently inspecting their blood pressure.

It is also possible that the examinee’s reflexes, lymph nodes, eyes, ears, nose, and throat will be examined. During the physical exam, patients can share any concerns or hopes about their health with nurses and other medical team members.

Monitor patients’ health.

Nurses must carefully watch and study their patients and write down any symptoms or essential information that could lead to a diagnosis or a change in their treatment plan.

This could mean carefully checking the patient’s records to ensure the proper medications and doses are mentioned, taking care of intravenous (IV) lines to make sure they are changed regularly, and keeping an eye on the patient’s vital signs.

Nurses must also pay close attention to what their patients don’t say to help them figure out what’s going on with their health.

Educate patients about how to manage an illness.

A portion of a nurse’s duties involves instructing their patients about different medical ailments and providing a detailed description of what symptoms should be managed.

It could involve revealing information about the medicines a patient must take, the required follow-up visits, and the rehabilitative exercises to be done.

Furthermore, the RN may have to advise a patient’s family or companion about after-treatment home care. This could encompass suggestions regarding the patient’s diet, nutritional status, physical therapy, and fitness regimen.

Certain nurses could also help educate the public concerning common illnesses by speaking at assemblies, volunteering with blood donations, or working at health screening and immunization clinics.

Advocate for the health and well-being of patients

Nurses frequently assume the role of patient advocates to guard the health and welfare of their clients.

Patient advocacy can interpret a doctor’s diagnosis or other medical information into a language the patient can comprehend. They also motivate them to pose inquiries or point them toward another medical service provider or center that can more adequately satisfy their needs.

A nurse can advocate by listening carefully to a patient’s concerns, honoring the patient’s desires, and sharing this information with the patient’s loved ones or other healthcare providers.

Operate medical equipment

Stethoscopes, glucometers, pulse oximeters, thermometers, and blood pressure machines are nurses’ main diagnostic tools in patient care.

Depending on their workplace and credentials, nurses may also be able to use specialist equipment such as ventilators, wound drains, and intravenous infusion pumps.

Nurses with a solid foundation in technology and mathematics are better equipped to use medical equipment and interpret patient data.

To gain the right skills for operating medical equipment, Wilkes University has BSN to MSN online programs focusing on advanced clinical skills in high demand and evidence-based practice for improved patient outcomes. Coursework is asynchronous and 100% online. Clinical rotations hone your skills with actual patients in the real world. The institution’s integrated exam preparation courses provide dedicated study resources that lead to impressive pass rates and graduate success.

How does the role of a nurse differ in various healthcare settings?

Here are ways in which nurse roles differ in various healthcare settings.


The role of a nurse in a hospital setting differs significantly from other healthcare settings due to various factors. Hospitals are often the primary setting for acute and critical care.

Nurses in this environment regularly confront patients needing instantaneous medical attention, such as grave injuries or life-threatening situations. This implies that hospital nurses must be experienced in coping with crises, sorting patients, and offering rapid interventions. In addition, hospitals are multidisciplinary settings where nurses work together intensely with other medical personnel, which includes physicians, surgeons, druggists, and therapists.

Hospital nurses must be highly knowledgeable in teamwork and communication to guarantee orderly and linked patient treatment. They are essential in helping efficient communication among the medical team, ensuring all members understand the patient’s state and treatment routine.

Moreover, hospitals tend to accommodate a larger patient load and broader case diversity than other healthcare settings. Hospital nurses must be agile and adjustable to meet the assorted requirements of patients with varying medical problems.

They must have a vast knowledge base and the capacity to offer complete care covering physical, mental, and psychological features.


Clinic settings refer to healthcare facilities that provide outpatient services, where patients visit for short, non-emergency medical treatments or consultations. Clinical nurses hold distinct positions that contrast those in other healthcare settings, such as hospitals or long-term care.

Firstly, nurses in clinic settings often have a broader scope of practice than their hospital counterparts. In clinics, nurses evaluate patients, perform diagnostic examinations, and provide medications and therapies. They may also provide patient education and counseling and manage chronic conditions. This diverse range of responsibilities requires clinic nurses to have a comprehensive knowledge of various medical conditions and treatment protocols.

Secondly, clinic settings often have a faster pace and require nurses to multitask efficiently. Unlike hospitals, where patients are admitted for longer durations, clinics typically see numerous patients throughout the day.

Nurses working in clinic environments must be able to swiftly and correctly evaluate patients, prioritize care, and guarantee an orderly flow of individuals. They must converse proficiently with physicians, other healthcare personnel, and clients to provide rapid and synchronized assistance. Furthermore, nurses in such settings usually have a more forthright role in patient education and preventive healthcare. Since clinics are mainly dedicated to ambulatory care, nurses are critical in asserting health, well-being, and self-care skills.

Long-term care facilities

Long-term care facilities are health settings that accommodate people with persistent diseases or impairments who necessitate help with their lifestyle activities. Nurses in long-term care facilities have specific roles that differ from other healthcare settings due to the nature of their patient’s conditions and needs.

One key role of nurses in long-term care facilities is to develop and implement comprehensive care plans for each resident. Unlike acute care settings, where patients have a specific diagnosis and treatment plan, residents in long-term care facilities often have multiple chronic conditions that require ongoing management. Nurses collaborate diligently with residents, their families, and other medical specialists to formulate crafted attention plans incorporating the occupants’ physical, mental, and social requirements.

Moreover, administering medication is an indispensable duty for nurses in long-term care homes. Since residents often have multiple prescriptions, nurses must closely monitor and administer these medications, ensuring that the residents receive the proper doses at the correct times. Also, nurses in long-term care facilities tutor and inform residents and their families about medications, probable consequences, and the correrightods of managing them.

Another contrast in the role of nurses in long-term care units is their emphasis on encouraging residents’ general health and happiness. They supply residents with emotional backing and comfort since many may feel detached.

Home healthcare

The role of a nurse in a home healthcare setting differs significantly from other healthcare settings due to the unique nature of providing care in patient’s homes.

In a hospital or clinic, nurses manage multiple patients simultaneously, often in a fast-paced and high-stress environment. They function as part of a bigger medical team and can tap into different resources and tools to aid their functioning. However, nurses typically work independently or with minimal support in home healthcare, providing comprehensive care to patients with various healthcare needs.

It requires nurses in home healthcare settings to have excellent assessment, critical thinking, and decision-making skills, as they often have to make clinical decisions independently. In conjunction with granting direct patient treatment, nurses’ in-home healthcare scenarios also assume a vital part in patient education and support.

They assist patients and their families in navigating different perspectives of home care – medication administration, wound care, and setting up home medical equipment. This obligation necessitates strong communication and training capacities to guarantee that patients and their relatives completely comprehend and can supervise their care at home.


In a school setting, the role of a nurse generally focuses on providing healthcare services specifically to students, faculty, and staff members within the school premises.

The main aim of a school nurse is to foster the entire health and prosperity of the school population and tackle any health-related issues that may materialize during school hours.

One key difference between a nurse in a school setting and other healthcare settings is the population they serve. School nurses primarily deal with youngsters and youth, necessitating special competencies and knowledge to address this populace’s distinctive health needs and worries. They are answerable for managing acute illnesses and injuries in the educational setting and addressing disorders that may influence a student’s capacity to participate in school activities.

Another difference is the focus on curative care and health education in a school habitat. School nurses are invaluable in stimulating sound patterns and lifestyles among students and staff.

The experts offer health appraisals, immunizations, and health teaching schemes to enhance total health outcomes and prevent diseases and wounds. They also collaborate intently with educators and administrators to develop policies and programs that promote a healthier school habitat.

Furthermore, school nurses often liaise between the school community and outside healthcare providers. They work with guardians, physicians, and other healthcare providers to guarantee pupils get suitable medical attention and facilities when required.

Community health centers

Community health centers are distinctive healthcare environments that concentrate on delivering primary care services to underserved communities. The responsibilities of nurses in community health centers contrast from those in other healthcare settings in some respects.

Community health centers frequently place greater stress on health promotion and prevention. Nurses in these settings collaborate closely with patients to instruct them on sound lifestyle options and disease control. They take a proactive role in recognizing and confronting health risks in the community.

Additionally, community health centers often serve as patients’ primary healthcare providers. Nurses in these settings perform more activities and are trained to tackle various health issues.

They perform as medical professionals and oversight administrators, guiding patients across the healthcare system and linking them with the requisite facilities. In addition, nurses in healthcare establishments are essential to identifying social determinants of health.

They understand the social and financial elements that affect their patient’s soundness and work to fix these situations.

Various healthcare settings of a nurse

While the basic nursing skills and knowledge remain the same across healthcare settings, nurses’ specific duties and responsibilities can vary. The parameters further affect the patients they attend to, their comprehension of healthcare needs, and the amount of cooperation with other healthcare practitioners.

Nurses must be skilled in different domains, embracing evaluation, physical care, discourse, setting, drug supervision, teaching, and documentation. Regardless of the healthcare setting, nurses must show compassion and sensitivity while adhering to the highest standards of care.

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