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What Is Nursing Care?

After 22 years as an RN, I now write about medical issues and new medical advances. Diet, exercise, treatment, and lifestyle are important.

Nursing care

Nursing care

Nurse: A Healthcare Professional

Many people think of nurses as a doctor's helper or a person in the hospital that is there to do all the chores necessary for the patient. So what exactly is nursing care?

A nurse is a healthcare professional whose focus is on the care of the patient, their families, and even communities. They work to help a patient recover from illness or surgeries and to improve the quality of life from conception to death.

Nurse as Primary Caregiver

While Hippocrates is considered to be the “father of modern medicine," Florence Nightingale was the first woman who was well educated, came from a wealthy family and earned the respect and acceptance for nursing to be a respectable profession. This occurred during the Crimean War, and the profession has obviously grown dramatically since those times.

Today’s nurses are very well educated, and there is a whole body of science behind their profession. This makes them uniquely different from the doctor. Essentially, when you enter the hospital, it is the nurse who will be your primary caregiver, not your doctor. Nurses are the ones who stay with you and watch for those subtle changes that might be missed by the doctor, who only comes into your room once or possibly twice a day.

When a doctor or nurse practitioner admits someone to the hospital, they advocate a plan of care for that patient; however, nurses also have a nursing care plan for that patient, which is different from the doctors.

The foundation of a nursing care plan is to document the signs, symptoms or responses that the patient is having to their physical problems. A nurse is an advocate for the patient, and they will explain procedures plus help you navigate your way through the complex healthcare system, particularly when you have a serious diagnosis like cancer.

Many people don't know what to expect and don't really know the right questions to ask their doctor. When your doctor asks you if you have any questions, often you may not know the right questions to ask. So, it might be helpful if you ask your doctor, “What would you want to know if you were me?

Nursing care plans are useful in the hospital and even at home if someone is ill because they take everything into account. This would include a physical assessment, a dietary assessment, any necessary wound care, and what physical limitations might be necessary to aid in recovery. They even take social and spiritual issues into account.

American Nursing Association

American Nursing Association

Importance of Communication With Your Nurse

The more qualified nurses who are at the bedside, the better the outcome is for the patient. Ideally, staffing in a good hospital would have one nurse assigned to five or six patients on a medical or surgical floor, and in critical care, one nurse would only take care of one or two patients. The severity of the patient's condition should determine the staffing requirements.

Nurses realize that people don't always tell the whole truth, but it is so important for patients to understand nurses are not judgmental and the questions nurses ask are for a purpose. So, the truth is essential to quality patient care, particularly prior to surgery.

One example question would be, did you drink any alcohol last night? The patient might answer I had two glasses of wine while the truth is they had five or six drinks. It is essential that the patient tells the nurse exactly how much they had to drink, and what kind of medication they have taken, including herbal remedies and pain pills. The amount of anesthesia may vary depending on the documentation of the nurse.

The liver has to detoxify all the drugs and any alcohol. If you are scheduled for surgery, they need to know what you have ingested the night before because it makes a difference as to the amount of anesthesia necessary to keep you asleep during surgery. I don't think anyone wants to wake up in the middle of the surgery, but it can and does happen on rare occasions when the staff does not have all the right information.


Here is a list of a few suggestions for the patient in and out of the hospital:

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Read More From Healthproadvice

  • Carry a card in your wallet that lists any disease you have, along with a current list of your medications.
  • If the patient is in critical care, do not bring them plants or flowers, as bacteria and allergies can interfere with recovery.
  • If you have a friend or relative in the hospital that is very ill, make your visit short; often, the patient needs as much rest as possible. They try to stay awake because you're visiting them, which is not in their best interest.
  • When you are told not to eat or drink anything after midnight, that means no mints, gum or any liquid. If you have something on your stomach and are put to sleep, it is possible that the stomach contents can get into the lungs and cause pneumonia.
  • Ask questions. You have the right to know exactly why you are having a procedure, what it entails and what to expect following the procedure.

Nursing Interventions

Sometimes patients might say, “I don't understand what that doctor wants me to do." Or “I'm not so sure that this is the right treatment for me." The nurse as your advocate might suggest that you get a second opinion, so you can have the best outcome.

Nurses consider this a nursing code, so their patients can get the best care. The nurse is not concerned with bruising the doctor's ego, as the patient is their primary concern. If you are looking for a new doctor, you want to find a busy one because this indicates he is successful.

Many times patients are afraid to take too much pain medication, even after surgery, but this is the most important time to manage your pain before it gets out of control.

After surgery, you need to be able to do some deep breathing, coughing and sit in a chair. All of this is to prevent blood clots in your legs so you won't get pneumonia. Proper pain medication is an essential component of your recovery.

Nurse talking with patient

Nurse talking with patient

Nursing Care at Home

  1. If you burn your hand or fingers at home, pour some milk over ice cubes and soak the burned area for about 15 min, or you can make a compress to put on the burn. This works better than just cold water because the protein and the lipids in the milk help heal the burn.
  2. If you have a problem with itching, menthol has anti-inflammatory properties and also Marionic acids, so you brew some mint leaves into a tea. When the tea cools off, soak the cloth in the mixture and place the cloth on the area for several minutes until you feel some relief.
  3. If you are looking for the perfect solution for a hangover, Pedialyte works very well. When you've had too much to drink, your electrolytes get depleted, and you can become dehydrated. Pedialyte will rehydrate your system by adding electrolytes, and this works much faster than your typical sports drink.

Summary of Patient Care

The primary point of this article is to enhance your understanding of nursing care. If you use your nurse as an advocate, ask her the important questions and let her help you in many ways.

Pain management and other concerns will make your hospital experience much improved. Most nurses are very caring, and when you are ready to leave the hospital, they will send you home with a home healthcare plan and a smile.

This content is for informational purposes only and does not substitute for formal and individualized diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed medical professional. Do not stop or alter your current course of treatment. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2011 Pamela Oglesby


Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on February 28, 2020:

Hi Rakesh, I appreciate your comments.

Rakesh Sharma from CHANDIGARH on February 28, 2020:

Excellent way of demonstration. Thanks

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on January 02, 2012:

kimH039, Thank you so much for your comments.

Kim Harris on January 01, 2012:

very uplifting presentation of the nursing professions. thanks pamela99:)

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on December 07, 2011:

Eiddwen, Thanks so much for your comments. Merry Christmas to you and your family.

Eiddwen from Wales on December 07, 2011:

Nursing is a wonderful profession and thanks for sharing this gem with us Pamela.

Much Xmas cheer for you.


Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on December 07, 2011:

uniquearticlebuz, Thank you so much for your comment.

Brian Slater, It is very hard work which is why you don't see as many older nurses. Thanks for your comments.

BRIAN SLATER on December 07, 2011:

hi, nurses are the unsung heroes of our hospitals. some people are quick to criticise but in my opinion they work really hard and long hours to boot!

uniquearticlesbuz from USA on December 07, 2011:

Great hub good to know about nursing.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on December 07, 2011:

arusho, I'm glad this hub was helpful to you. It seems like we learn something new everyday. I appreciate your comments.

arusho from University Place, Wa. on December 06, 2011:

Good hub, I didn't know milk could help heal a burn. good to know.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on December 04, 2011:

RTalloni, As in all professions, some are better than others but I feel overall nurses are dedicated and it is not an easy job. Thanks so much for your comments.

RTalloni on December 04, 2011:

How I admire nursing professionals. Not only does their education serve them well, but it takes a special kind of person to be a nursing professional.

I've been in so many settings over the last five years with our parents. It's been amazing to see good nurses at work, but it's also discouraging to see what they have to put up with in co workers who are lazy self-concerned. I've often felt very sorry for those nurses, but it is a sign of the degradation of our society.

Then there are the non-compliant patients!!! Yikes--I couldn't do the job of nursing, but again, I sure do appreciate those who can, and who do a good job in spite of all they have to face!

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on December 03, 2011:

thelyricwriter, Thank you so much for all of your comments. I hope you are well also and enjoying the holiday season.

Richard Ricky Hale from West Virginia on December 03, 2011:

A great and very well informed article about nurses Pamela. Votes up. Nurses really do make a big difference in so many ways and this shows that dedication. This article shows that. A very good job Pam. I hope you are doing fine and enjoying the holiday season. Take care.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on November 30, 2011:

prasetio, Thank you so much for your comments. God bless.

prasetio30 from malang-indonesia on November 30, 2011:

Nurse is one of the most noble job. Thanks for writing and share about this job. Well done and rated up!


Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on November 28, 2011:

Nell Rose, I certainly appreciate your comments and I agree as a nurse. Almost every nurse I ever worked with was caring and hard working. Thank you.

Nell Rose from England on November 28, 2011:

Hi, nurses never get the accolades that they deserve, they are the most hard working, wonderful people and this hub was amazing, rated up! cheers nell

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on November 27, 2011:

Hello, I appreciate your comments.

Hello, hello, from London, UK on November 27, 2011:

I always had the best treatment and have the highest respect for them.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on November 27, 2011:

Amber, I'm glad the hub was helpful to you and I appreciate your comments.

Amber Allen on November 27, 2011:

Hi Pamela99

What an informative hub! I had no idea that milk would help a burn heal.

Voted up!


Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on November 26, 2011:

PegCole, Thank you so much for your very nice comments. I'm glad you like my more new avatar. The other picture was over 4 years old.

Peg Cole from North Dallas, Texas on November 26, 2011:

It takes a really special person to become a nurse. They have to be strong but compassionate, stern but sweet and oh, the patience it takes to work with the physically ill patients. This article is a great description of the important role that nurses play in our health care. I'm so grateful for the kindness and caring nature of the nurses who have cared for my family over the years.

BTW I love your new avatar.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on November 25, 2011:

Mar, Thank you for the compliment. I know that your comments are true which is one of the frustrations that nurses often face. I think nurses deserve more respects as they are the backbone of healthcare. I appreciate your comments.

Maria Jordan from Jeffersonville PA on November 24, 2011:

Dear Pamela,

I love your avatar, you look beautiful!

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

As a nurse, I thoroughly appreciate the validation of the science and the art of NURSING, which you have so beautifully laid out. The field would indeed be lost without us! I can say this because of the countless nurses I have supervised and taught over the years... we are the backbone of the healthcare field for all of the reasons you have outlined.

I am even more so hoping that awareness will be raised outside our field. I have had one (but have heard countless) scenario where I walked out of a job that insisted it was more important for me to do banking, grocery shopping (while neglecting basic healthcare responsibilities). Sadly, some organizations have absolutely no respect or appreciation for the essential role we perform.

This is outstanding--Voted UP & all but funny, mar.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on November 24, 2011:

always exploring, I appreciate your comments and I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

stephhicks, I'm glad you liked this hub and I appreciate your comments. Happy Thanksgiving.

Stephanie Marshall from Bend, Oregon on November 23, 2011:

Two of my best friends are hospital nurses. They work so hard and make so little! Love this hub - rating up and more!

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on November 23, 2011:

Thank you Pam for writing an informative article about nursing. It is a proud profession with great rewards. Thank you for sharing. Happy Thanksgiving tomorrow..Cheers

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on November 23, 2011:

Audry, Thank you so much for your comments and I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving also.

thesingernurse, I agree that holistic care is the difference. I appreciate your comments.

Tina Siuagan from Rizal, Philippines on November 23, 2011:

What really sets us apart from the medical doctors is the target of our approach. That is HOLISTIC CARE. I enjoyed reading your hub. Very precise and insightful. Looking forward to your future hubs! :)

Audrey Kirchner from Washington on November 23, 2011:

Great information and love your new photo~~ Nursing along with many parts of modern medicine are misunderstood so thanks for clarifying for folks out there. Happy Thanksgiving as well~

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on November 22, 2011:

drbj, It is always a pleasure to receive your positive comments. Thank you so much.

drbj and sherry from south Florida on November 22, 2011:

It's a pleasure, Pamela, to read this positive description of nurses and the nursing profession. Too often, nurses do not get the appreciation they deserve. And your suggestions for patients are right on the mark. Thank you.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on November 22, 2011:

HBN, Thank you so much for your comments. I really wanted to write about what nurses actually do, and I appreciate the comments from another nurse.

Tom, You summed it up quite simply. It is good to see you and I appreciate your comments.

Tom Whitworth from Moundsville, WV on November 22, 2011:

Great Hub Pamela,

The nurses are the healers on the front line of medicine. Nurses devote the time needed on the front lines with a patient for "tactical" healing while doctors are more like strategic generals who plan the wars but few individual battles.

Kudos for the Hub and to the nurses.

Gail Sobotkin from South Carolina on November 22, 2011:

Oh how I loved this comprehensive and clearly written article about what it is that nurses actually do and what differentiates the nursing profession from the medical profession. You did a fantastic job on this article.

Voted up across the board except for funny.

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