An entry level registered nurse has many duties to balance over the course of the workday. In addition to caring for patients, an RN must also find time to complete patient charts and consult with doctors about the best course for patient care. An RN may have different duties, depending on her work environment, such as a hospital or a doctor's office.
An entry level RN spends a good portion of time caring for and interacting with patients. Often, the RN is a patient's main point of contact. She sees patients before the doctor does, takes their vital signs and records them. Observing patients' symptoms, she records her observations for later analysis. She may be responsible for diagnostic tests, such as drawing blood or collecting urine samples for analysis. Because doctors typically have a full schedule of patients, it may fall to the RN to explain aftercare or discharge instructions to patients and their families.
Charts and Record-Keeping
Keeping an accurate chart of the patient's condition is a vital part of an entry level RN's job. Working in a hospital, the RN may have to ask patients questions at the time of intake to determine their medical history and record this information. She must administer medication as prescribed by a doctor and record each dosage when given. An RN also takes the patient's vital signs and records them in the patient's chart. In a doctor's office, the RN consults with the patient before the doctor. While recording the patient's vital signs, she asks questions about the patient's health and current symptoms.
An RN will consult with a patient's doctors to ensure they have all the information needed to make a sound diagnosis. In addition to the information recorded in the patient's chart, the RN will offer any conclusions she may have drawn from observing the patient. An RN may choose to specialize in a particular condition, such as an oncology nurse that helps cancer patients. These RNs have specialized knowledge about the disease and consult with doctors about the symptoms and treatment.
An RN may choose a specialty to focus on, such as cardiovascular or pediatric care. These nurses may have different duties than an RN who works in a general setting. For example, a critical care nurse who works in a hospital's intensive care unit may have to monitor patients more often because of the serious nature of her patients' illnesses. She may have to perform specialized procedures, such as a dialysis nurse that assists kidney patients with dialysis treatment.
Alternate Work Environments
An RN may choose to focus on working outside of medical offices and hospitals. She may work at a school, providing care to sick children and administering vaccines. Another option for an RN is to work in the medical research field. In this position, the RN uses her medical knowledge to research a particular disease or condition. Yet another career path for an RN is to work in poverty-stricken neighborhoods, educating people about disease prevention and performing screenings for illnesses, such as HIV or diabetes.