However, when Suzanne Gordon asked several nurses to describe what they do, most responded that it is “too hard to talk about. It’s too diffuse, too vague, too indefinable,” an indication that the duties of a nurse are extremely variable and often unpredictable. But Gordon does provide a basic summary on the duties of a nurse that includes protecting their patients from “the risks and consequences of illness, disability, and infirmity” and all possible consequences related to treatment. Nurses also protect their patients “from the risks that occur when illness and vulnerability make it difficult, impossible, or even lethal for patients to perform the activities of daily living,” such as breathing on their own, turning over in bed, and using the bathroom. In essence, nurses “save lives, prevent complications, prevent suffering, and save money” (2006), not to mention providing emotional support for their patients and their loved ones. In contrast to Gordon’s article, “Awareness and Perceptions of the Johnson & Johnson Campaign for Nursing’s Future: Views from Nursing Students, RNs, and CNOs” by K. Donelan, P.I. Buerhaus, B.T. Ulrich, L. Norman, and R. Dittus, discusses the on-going campaign by Johnson & Johnson to increase awareness among nurses in the United States concerning the growing problem of nursing recruitment and retention. The authors also discuss the current shortage of nurses, especially RNs, and whether this situation is getting better or worse (2005).
Thus, it appears that the duties of a professional nurse, whether as an RN or a CNO, are basically a combination of my original conclusions and Gordon’s assessments in her article. Medically speaking, the duties of a professional nurse involves triage, setting up and putting to use IV’s and other treatments, holding discussions with physicians and other specialists regarding diagnostic tests and exams, deciding which medications and drugs can be used to help treat a patient, hold meetings with immediate family members to discuss their loved one’s condition and prognosis, and tend to the immediate and daily needs of a patient. But technically, the duties of a professional nurse includes protecting their patients from harm and devising ways to treat a patient that will result in the most favorable outcome. Thus, as Gordon points out, the overall duties and obligations of a professional nurse are to save lives, prevent further injury in relation to a patient’s medical condition, and prevent patients from further suffering. As to the Johnson & Johnson campaign, it seems that nursing duties must be made more transparent so that new nurses can be recruited to help decrease the growing nurse shortage in the United States. Overall, the duties of a professional nurse are quite complicated as compared to the old days when nurses simply took a patient’s temperature and waited for the doctor to tell them what to do.
Donelan, K., Buerhaus, P.I., Ulrich, B.T., Norman, L., & Dittus, R. (2005).
Awareness and perceptions of the Johnson & Johnson campaign for nursing’s future: Views from nursing students, RNs, and CNOs. Medscape. Retrieved from http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/511633
Gordon, S. (2006). What do nurses really do? Medscape. Retrieved from http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/520714_2