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Case Study: Nurse - Albert

What do you do?

I work in the emergency department of a medium-sized hospital. In my day-to-day job, I try to focus on giving patients care that is tailored to their particular problems and backgrounds.

I also like to keep patients well informed, so they can have as much control as possible over their own health.

What is your background?

Before entering nursing, I worked in a variety of 'blue-collar' jobs: mechanic, machine operator, shipper/receiver, and several others.

After many years in these jobs, I was ready for a change, so I enrolled on a diploma of higher education in nursing. Three years later, I qualified and since then, I have worked in various hospitals.

[Please note: from September 2013, all new entrants will need a degree. Diploma of higher education (DipHE) courses will be phased out between September 2011 and early 2013.]

What characteristics do you need to be successful in your job?

Organisational skills are certainly important. The crucial characteristic for nurses, however, is the ability to interact well with people. As a nurse, you have to deal not only with patients but also with their families and with other healthcare professionals.

These situations are often very stressful or depressing. Feeling pity for your patients is not really helpful. Instead, you have to be able to empathise with your patients, that is, put yourself in their place and work with them towards better health.

What other jobs could you do using the skills from this job?

Nurses could work in any health-related field, provided they obtain the necessary educational qualifications. For example, a nurse could become an occupational therapist, physiotherapist or health visitor.

What changes will there be in the future?

The demand for nurses who can provide community services may increase. Highly trained nurses may also be used as a more cost-effective alternative to doctors.

Nurses are constantly exposed to new technologies, which are used to diagnose medical problems, deliver medication and sustain life.

Are there many opportunities to enter this career?

Yes, but the face of nursing is changing rapidly; educational requirements are increasing as the delivery of health care becomes more complex. Furthermore, as financial pressures build, nurses are expected to provide more cost-effective care.

Most of the opportunities will exist in specialised areas such as: emergency, critical care, occupational health, mental health and geriatric care.

What do you like about your job?

What I like about nursing is that you're helping people. You're alleviating their pain with medication, and alleviating their anxiety by discussing their health problem with them.

Another thing I like about nursing is that you can continuously improve yourself and keep on learning. And, you can specialise in many different areas that you have an interest in.

What do you dislike about your job?

The one thing I dislike about the nursing profession is that you never have enough time to give the care that you want to give. Usually, you can just give exactly what you need to give and nothing more, and that can be disappointing.

Lastly, sometimes, you're not accorded the respect that the profession deserves. And, when you are lacking that respect, you really feel it.

What advice would you give to someone interested in your career?

You have to really want to do this job because it is very demanding in terms of hours and workload. But the rewards are great.

A day in the life

7:00 am - 8:00 am

Receiving reports from night-shift nurses, and checking and assessing patients.

8:00 am - 9:00 amDoing morning patient care, which includes:

  • giving bed baths
  • assisting in showers
  • delivering breakfasts.

9:00 am - 12:30 pmGiving treatments:

  • giving medications in pill form, by injection and intravenously
  • changing bandages
  • removing staples and stitches.

12:30 pm - 1:00 pm

Giving patients their lunch.

1:00 pm - 2:00 pm

Admitting new patients and getting their personal and medical history. Assessing them physically.

2:00 pm - 4:00 pmDoing treatments:

  • giving medications in pill form, by injection and intravenously
  • changing bandages
  • removing staples and stitches.

4:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Updating patients' charts and assessing their condition.

5:00 pm - 6:00 pm

Getting patients ready for dinner.

6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Doing final updating of patients' charts. Assessing their condition and giving a report to night-shift nurses.

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