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Part 2: Emerging Roles of a Nurse

Here is the second part of the article Role of a Nurse: Emerging Duties and Responsibilities

Nurse Epidemiologist

Epidemiology is the study on health and illness patterns; how a particular disease or medical disorder develops and the factors associated therein.

Nurse epidemiologist utilizes research to identify the risk factors, the possible treatments and preventive measures involved in the disease process.

Aside from responding to an outbreak, part of the work of a nurse epidemiologist involves disease surveillance, health education, and involvement in vaccination program.

Although this role of a nurse has been going on since the time of Nightingale, it is now more becoming interesting and highly appreciated by other health professionals.

In one article, nurse epidemiologists were described as similar to “Paul Reveres of the medical world”  (Scally). They serve as front-liners in discovering new forms of microorganisms and finding ways to stop the spread of infectious diseases.

Roles of a Nurse
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Cruise Ship Nurse

We are familiar with the work of a Travel Nurse who gets to be assigned to several locations or destinations as intended by the nurse. If traveling is your thing, then becoming a Cruise Ship Nurse is also an exciting option.

Aside from treating the common ailments of passengers on board, Cruise Ship Nurses also take part in emergency situations such as responding to a heart attack or an impending labor and delivery of a pregnant woman. The passengers are not only the main concern of the Cruise Ship Nurses.

They are also responsible to take care of the crew and staff on board. In accordance to the standards of professional nursing and that of the maritime authorities, the nurse should be consistent in updating herself by attending continuing education offers and different trainings that will allow her to practice nursing on board. It might a Love Boat for a while, but the life of a person is your main responsibility.

Parish Nurse

Yes. You read it right – Parish Nursing links faith and health to combine professional nursing with Christian ministry. The American Nurses Association prefer to call it Faith Community Nursing (FCN) and in 2005 it is considered as a specialty nursing practice. As a nursing specialty, it is governed by standards that nurses should strictly adhere to. Last year, 2012, these standards were updated  and defined the specialty as:

“…the specialized practice of professional nursing that focuses on the international care of the spirit as part of the process of promoting holistic health and preventing or minimizing illness in a faith community.”

These nurses consider the spiritual, physical, psychological, and social aspects of an individual to create a sense of harmony with self, others, the environment, and a higher power.

The following are specific roles that a Parish Nurse performs:

  • Health Educator – focusing on a variety of educational activities for all ages that explore the relationship between values, attitudes, lifestyle, faith and health.
  • Personal Health Counselor – assisting individuals to deal with health issues and problems and may include hospital, home, nursing home, etc. visits.
  • Referral Agent – providing congregational and community resources for healing and wellness.
  • Health Advocate – encouraging all systems (congregant, faith community, primary health resources) to find the best solution for healing and wholeness – body, mind and spirit.
  • Facilitator of Volunteers – recruiting and coordinating resources within the faith community to serve in its various health ministries.
  • Developer of Support Groups – facilitating the development of support groups to meet member needs and those of the external community.
  • Integrator of Faith and Health – seeking, in all activities and contacts, to promote the understanding of the relationship between faith and health

Wound Care Nurse

For some nurses, it is an ordeal to change soiled dressings on pressure ulcers. This is partly why Wound Care Nurses are called to do the said nursing task. These nurses are considered specialists in wound management including ostomy, continence and foot care nurisng.

A certified wound care nurse (CWCN) is able to work with the patient’s medical team in assessing and monitoring the wound’s healing process. CWCNs are directly involved in the patient’s care as they perform debridement (a wound cleaning process that removes dead tissue and contaminants), cleaning and bandaging.

The CWCN also works with the patient’s physician to assess the appropriateness of antibiotic therapy, surgery or hyperbaric oxygen therapy. As part of the role of a nurse is health education, CWCNs gives health teachings to the patient, caretakers or family members, and even the medical staff in the management and prevention of wounds.

Nurse Anesthetist 

Probably not a very novel role, but Nurse Anesthetists are now considered one of the most high paying jobs in nursing. As a Nurse Anesthetist, you are authorized to deliver comprehensive anesthesia care under the particular Nurse Practice Act of each state. They are able to practice autonomously. But this role of a nurse still varies from different states.

Collaboration is the term preferred by some health authorities to define a relationship where the supervising physician is responsible for the patient and provides medical direction for the nurse anesthetist. Other states require the consent or order of a physician or other qualified licensed provider to administer the anesthetic.

Nurse Anesthesists are able to deliver all accepted anesthetic techniques including general, epidural, spinal, peripheral nerve block, sedation, or local.

Developmental Disabilities Nurse

It already takes a lot of passion and commitment to become a nurse. Becoming a Developmental Disabilities Nurse (DDN) shifts the whole profession into a much higher form of passion and commitment. A role of a nurse in providing health services to persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), DDNs are able to perform those aspects of nursing care that focus on maintenance of health, development of skills, communication, socialization and participation in community life.

The primary role of DDNs is to assist persons in their ADLs or activities of daily living. Although assisting takes a major focus, helping the person to regain and maintain independence is also part of the tasks of a DDN. That is why rehabilitation is also taken into account in planning for their care.

The Best is Yet to Come

We are living in an environment that never settles for permanency. As we face new challenges, the demands of time and the health care for the general population takes on a new face. The nursing profession, though old as time can imagine, will always carry the core of caring. But it will  metamorphose into the services, skills, body of knowledge, and the level of clientele it will cater.

With these upcoming changes, roles of nurses will also refashion in order to meet the demands of the majority. These are the most exciting part of our profession – to partake and be involved in the global transformation of nursing.