Things Most People Don’t Know Nurses Do

What do nurses really do?

male_nurses
Male Nurses

Most people have no idea. If you had an attentive audience, what kinds of things would you want them to know? 

Here are 5 things that most people don’t realize nurses do every day on the job.


1. Analyze and interpret labs
LFTs, CBCs, ABGs, electrolytes and more. You name it, a nurse can interpret it. Lab values are a telling piece of the patient puzzle, but only when taken in context with an individual’s unique health picture and comorbidities. Nurses are often the first to see lab values as they are reported and to make clinical decisions based on the results.


2. Work in conjunction with (not beneath) doctors
In medical shows, things often go like this: A patient begins to decompensate. “Nurse, get the oxygen!” a doctor shouts. “Yes, doctor,” the nurse replies. Oh, come on. What the general public probably doesn’t know is that the nurse has already called the code, started CPR and prepped for intubation.


3. Keep things running smoothly
It’s a double-edged sword. Because when things in healthcare go really well, there’s usually a mastermind nurse behind it. That’s when a nurse has done an exceptional job, except most people don’t even notice.


4. Intercept medical errors
Nurses catch mistakes. Unusual concentrations, erroneous orders, missed symptoms and overlooked allergies. Constant surveillance and attention to detail saves patients from befalling a medical error day in and day out.


5. Save lives
Many in the public don’t realize it. They think doctors are the ones who heroically save lives. But nurses also save lives every day. Sometimes they save a life before anyone even knows it’s in danger.


by Meaghan O'Keeffe, RN, BSN


Your turn...

What else do nurses do that the public doesn’t know about?

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