Summary of Job Description for a Nurse

By: Anderson Ryan

If you are looking for a job in nursing, you have probably noticed variations in the job descriptions. Although there are some common threads among all of these job postings, the majority of the differences will mainly revolve around the specific specialty or the particular nursing position.

Regardless of your particular specialty, there will be certain duties that should appear in almost all nursing job descriptions. Though it may be worded differently, providing nursing care to patients will usually be in the job description. As well as general duties like, maintaining confidential patient records, providing medical advice to patients and/or their families, and explaining procedures and conditions to patients.

A general nursing job description may also give a brief account of the type of healthcare professionals and patients that you will be working with on a daily basis. All job descriptions will require a RN license, but will encourage nurses with additional certifications or credentials. Some even detail the certifications that they would prefer. This documentation will usually need to be presented before a nurse can successfully obtain a particular position.

Other basic information to be included in the job description for a nurse could be the salary range, which will be influenced by the size of the healthcare organization, its location, and the job market for that area. It will also detail the level of nursing experience that they are hoping to attract. Though, most are more concerned with the licensing and credentials, others require a set number of years within the nursing field. The actual working shift may or may not be included, as nursing schedules are typically pretty flexible.

Though these are the basic aspects of a job description for a registered nurse there will be changes for other types of nurses. The differences between nursing job descriptions for particular specialties and general nurses will revolve around the additional certifications and experience levels. The duties will be more detailed and specific to the specialty. For example, instead of saying “to provide care for patients,” the description for a surgical nurse may read, “to prep patients for surgical procedure.” Another detailed difference would be in the clarification of the type of patients that the nurse will care for and the healthcare professionals they will work with on a daily basis. Some job descriptions for nursing specialties may even set working hours. For example, school health nurses, will usually work only during school hours.

The job description for a nursing supervisor or head nurse usually mentions the need to provide care to patients. However, this is not the main duty of a nursing supervisor. Their job description will note the need to head up the nursing staff by setting work schedules, assigning duties, reviewing medical records, and ensuring that nursing supplies are in stock. Most importantly, whether it is specifically stated in the job description or not, the nursing supervisor’s greatest duty is to be responsible for their nursing staff. So, ensuring that they have the proper training and knowledge of policies and procedures is vital.

The job description for a nurse practitioner will explicitly state the need for a higher level of credentials than the RN license, usually a bachelors or masters degree in Nursing. A specific number of years of experience as a nurse practitioner may also be required within the job description. This is a direct result of the advanced duties of a nursing practitioner. The job description for a nurse practitioner may be more closely related to that of a physician than that of a registered nurse. Nurse practitioners are in many cases the first to diagnose and treat an illness. Depending on the state which they are in, a nurse practitioner may also have the ability to prescribe medication.

LPNs or licensed practical nurses job description duties are almost always spelled out. Most of these positions require the nurse to monitor progress, track vital signs, dressing wounds, taking care of a patient’s hygiene needs, and alerting registered nurses and/or physicians of changes in a patient’s status. LPNs may also be required to start IV’s and administer medicines, but these duties will vary by state.

The final difference in job descriptions for nurses will be for those that work in a particular type of healthcare facility. For instance the job description for nurses that work in burn centers, rest-homes, and pediatric facilities will usually differ from those of nurses in typical hospitals. Yet, these job descriptions will revolve around the type of patients being treated. The nurses may develop treatment plans, work with rehab specialists, and teach family members and other caregivers how to assist in the caring for the patient at home.

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Ryan Anderson is a freelance writer who writes about the nursing profession, often writing about specific items used in nursing such as nursing uniforms.

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