Nurses assist Physicians and other medical specialists in diagnosing and treating patients by conducting tests, administering medication, and monitoring patients’ physical and mental health condition. Most Nurses can be found in hospitals or private and public clinics, although some of them may choose to work in other types of establishments, such as schools or retirement homes, where they’ll provide more personalized care. A few Nurses may also be employed by specialized agencies that provide home care to patients with limited mobility.
Nurses are trained according to the department they work in, which can range from urgent to routine care and everything in-between. Operating Room Nurses, for example, must be skilled enough to provide assistance during a surgery. A Nurse’s duties may also differ from one age group to another. Understandably, Pediatric Nurses and Gerontology Nurses have a very different approach when it comes to patient care.
Here’s a non-exhaustive list of common tasks Nurses are required to complete.
- Conducting pre-examination tests in order to better identify the patients’ needs, illness, and overall condition:
- Monitoring and recording temperature, pulse, breathing, blood pressure, and overall health of the patient;
- conducting medical questionnaires/interviews, filling out checklists, and writing down symptoms and other relevant observations;
- completing electrocardiograms (ECGs); and
- collecting specimens (e.g. blood and urine).
- Assisting Physicians and other medical specialists during medical tests/examinations, surgery, and other medical procedures while maintaining a safe and supportive environment.
- Providing high-quality, appropriate, and cost-effective care to patients, while paying great attention to their comfort and safety:
- Administering prescribed medication and treatments through oral, intravenous, or injection methods;
- applying dressings and bandages;
- vaccinating patients to prevent and treat diseases; and
- operating and monitoring medical equipment.
- Liaising with colleagues and patients, often acting as an intermediary between the two:
- Communicating needs and/or problems concerning assigned patients to colleagues and supervisors; and
- teaching and counselling patients and their families on health-related issues in collaboration with other healthcare providers, efficiently responding to any concerns they may have.
- Maintaining accurate and detailed patient records:
- Monitoring, assessing, documenting, and reporting symptoms and changes in patients’ condition.
- Promoting preventive health measures and following up with patients, as required.
- Performing quality control of equipment, supplies, and procedures, as required:
- Ensuring all equipment is clean and calibrated; and
- assisting in setting up and dismantling equipment and supplies.
- Complying with safety standards at all times, taking precautionary measures to avoid infection and contamination.
- Conducting pre-examination tests in order to better identify the patients’ overall condition.
- Assisting medical specialists during and after medical tests/examinations, surgery, and other medical procedures.
- Administering prescribed medication and treatments through oral, intravenous, or injection methods.
- Maintaining accurate and detailed patient records, monitoring and reporting any changes in patients’ condition.
- Promoting preventive health measures to patients and their relatives.
- Operating, monitoring, and maintaining medical equipment.
The average Nurse salary is $66,499 per year or $34 per hour. This is around 2 times more than the Median wage of the country. Entry level positions start at $47,000 while most experienced workers make up to $93,000. These results are based on 3,960 salaries extracted from job descriptions.
- Excellent interpersonal and communication skills:
- Communicating clearly, especially verbally, in order to create a comforting and transparent environment with patients and their relatives, providing answers to their questions and addressing their concerns;
- displaying strong customer service skills, setting high standards of patient care and safety, treating every patient with dignity and respect; and
- being able to work cohesively as part of a team, dealing with a diverse group of people, always conveying a positive image and building positive relationships with others.
- Strong sense of empathy, compassion, and altruism:
- Demonstrating sensitivity to individual needs of patients; and
- displaying an inherent ability to make others feel cared about.
- Exceptional ability to work under pressure in challenging settings:
- Having strong multitasking skills; being able to prioritize tasks and responsibilities;
- being exceptionally flexible and able to deal with a broad variety of parameters and changing demands in a dynamic, fast-paced environment;
- remaining calm and professional during times of critical needs; and
- being able to face emotionally demanding situations.
- Analytical, problem-solving, and decision-making skills:
- Identifying issues and resolving problems in a timely manner using critical thinking and good judgment; and
- being able to analyze, assess, and diagnose the patient’s condition in order to provide them with the proper treatments.
- High levels of stamina and physical strength:
- Being able to work on their feet for long shifts; and
- being able to lift patients, when necessary.
- Exceptional professionalism and strong work ethic:
- Being trustworthy enough to handle sensitive/confidential information.
- Great sense of responsibility and reliability.
Aside from the skills listed above, Nurses must have graduated from a recognized school of Nursing, having completed a bachelor’s degree in Nursing or obtained any other equivalent certification. Some Nurses might want to work in a specialized field, such as emergency nursing or perioperative nursing, in which cases they will be required to have completed training and courses related to their designated field of expertise.
Additional credentials are usually required and will vary according to the Nurse’s location and specialization. In Canada, these credentials include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Registered Nurse Status from the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN);
- Registration with the provincial/territorial regulatory body;
- Basic Cardiac Life Support – Healthcare Provider (BCLS-HCP) and/or Basic Life Support (BLS) Certifications;
- Critical Care Registered Nurse (CCRN) Certification;
- International Trauma Life Support (ITLS) and/or Basic Trauma Life Support (BTLS) Certifications;
- Trauma Nursing Core Courses (TNCC);
- Certificate of IV Administration, including completion of cannulation courses;
- Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) and/or Pediatric Education for the Pre-Hospital Professional (PEPP) Certifications;
- Canadian Triage and Acuity Scale (CTAS) Certification; and
- Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) Certification.
Most Nurse positions require between one (1) and four (4) years of work experience conducting comprehensive nursing assessments and providing nursing care to infants, children, adults, and seniors. Nurses also need to demonstrate an in-depth knowledge of medical procedures, equipment, and tools, including medical terminology and medications. They must also comply with current legislations and regulations, including health and safety standards (e.g. infection control standards). Most employers will also administer criminal background checks.
Nurses’ work is also emotionally challenging; hence, they must demonstrate exceptional stress management skills. Since the emergency medical service operates on a 24/7 basis and all work is carried out in planned shifts and/or called schedules, Nurses must be able to work flexible schedules, including regular and irregular hours, such as weekends and national holidays.