Registered nurses have a variety of tasks to take care of daily. RNs keep records, administer medication, consult with other healthcare providers, monitor patients and educate individuals and family. RNs must also stay up to date with new technology and tools. These skills help nurses provide the best care to patients and families and the best support to doctors and other healthcare professionals involved in the care of their patient. Some nurses may also eventually attain a leadership position, such as the role of nurse manager.
Besides medical skills, which can be learned through a nursing program, nurses must also have a blend of less-easily taught skills. Active listening, critical thinking, social perceptiveness and decision making are all very important for nurses.
Registered Nurse responsibilities often include:
- Patient care
- Advanced cardiac life support (ACLS)
- Acute care
- Case management
- Clinical experience
- Treatment planning
Certified Nurse Assistants
Nursing assistants fulfill basic quality-of-life needs for patients of any age in hospitals, residential nursing care facilities or outpatient clinics. Since nursing assistants have daily contact with patients, they are gatherers of vital information about the patients’ conditions, which they must then transmit to their supervisors. A CNA’s workload can become intense and fast-paced, but the human contact and ability to help those in medical need is a strong motivating factor. A desire to help people and compassion for patients can help a nurse’s assistant get through difficult days. Job responsibilities vary based on where you work.
To obtain a nursing assistant job, a CNA most often needs to have at least a high school diploma, or GED, and at least some form of post-secondary nursing instruction. This can be obtained from a variety of institutions such as community colleges or a private training vendor. Students are then usually required to pass an examination for their certification.
While a degree is typically not required, it can help prepare students for their CNA responsibilities as well as help provide a path to career advancement later on.
Medical assistants are trained in both clinical and administrative work. This multidimensional skill set is unique to medical assistants, and it often sets them apart from other healthcare professionals. Hospitals are relying on the knowledge and abilities of medical assistants more and more each year.
The clinical side of medical assisting translates most directly to recording vital signs when interacting with patients, compiling patients’ medical histories and administering medications under direction of a supervising physician. In the administrative realm, medical assistants can be responsible for everything from scheduling appointments to billing and assisting patients in filling out insurance forms.
A medical assistant working in a hospital often performs the same functions as a nursing assistant. The specific duties assigned to medical assistants working in a hospital, however, are wholly dependent on the specific needs of the unit in which they work.
Medical Assistant responsibilities often include:
- Vital Signs Measurement
- Patient Preparation
- Blood Pressure Checking
Advance Practice Providers (NPs/Pas)
A nurse practitioner is a registered nurse who has advanced education and clinical training beyond a bachelor’s degree in a health care specialty area. Nurse practitioners also are called certified registered nurse practitioners (CRNPs), and you may hear that term in your doctor’s office or at the hospital.
Nurse practitioners (NPs) and physician assistants (PAs) are qualified health care professionals who provide care and treatment while working under the close supervision of a doctor. They have been certified to perform many of the same tasks as a doctor. PAs work in a variety of health care settings such as doctor offices, nursing homes, and hospitals.
PAs and NPs are often referred to as advanced practice providers. Other examples of advanced practice providers include certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) and certified nurse midwives (CNMs).
PAs can provide many of the same services as a doctor and work in nearly every medical specialty. PAs are supervised by doctor, and the services that PAs can provide are approved by the supervising doctor.
PAs provide a comprehensive range of services. These services include:
- Performing physical exams
- Taking patient histories
- Conducting clinical procedures
- Diagnosing and treating illnesses
- Prescribing medications
- Ordering and interpreting diagnostic tests
- Following chronic medical conditions
Nurse practitioners provide nursing and medical services — according to their practice specialty — to people of all ages.
NPs provide a comprehensive range of services. These services include:
- Obtain medical histories and perform physical exams
- Diagnose and treat health problems such as infections and injuries
- Diagnose, treat, and monitor diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure
- Order and review laboratory studies and x-rays
- Prescribe medications and other treatments
- Promote positive health behaviors and self-care skills through education and counseling
Food Service Workers
One of the most important things in a hospital is its food service. Patients need nutritious food to be delivered to their rooms in a timely manner and hospital food service workers are hired to make sure that this is taken care of. Hospital food service workers do not only deliver food to patients assigned to them; they also help in the preparation of food items in accordance to instructions provided for each individual patient.
There are three main tasks that hospital food service workers perform i.e. food preparation, service and general kitchen maintenance. They need to be able to do all these correctly as each depends on the other. Since this job is somewhat of a culinary nature, hospital food service workers need to know how to prepare food items for cooking or even cook dishes at times. Typically, they perform semi-skilled tasks such as peeling, slicing, coring or dicing vegetables and fruits or preparing meat cuts for cooking. They also put together cooked items to create platters to be taken to patients’ rooms.
Pharmacy technicians work under the direction of a licensed pharmacist to dispense medication and provide information to customers. Pharmacy technicians typically work behind a pharmacy counter at a drugstore, grocery store, hospital, nursing home or other medical facility. This position involves working with pharmacists, patients and occasionally with pharmaceutical reps.
Most technicians are certified — the Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT) is earned by passing the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE) — and have completed several hundred hours of on-the-job training in order to be able to work with different prescription drugs, understand pharmacy operations and protocol, and abide by ethical standards. Basic job duties include dosing medications and filling prescription orders, taking care of administrative tasks, and handling basic customer service duties at the counter. Some pharmacy techs lead a team of pharmacy staff members as a lead pharmacy technician. Others may be responsible for managing supply and inventory or providing pertinent information to other healthcare professionals.
While Wisconsin does not require registration or licensing of pharmacy technicians, you must at least meet the following requirements:
- Must be at least 18 years of age or older
- Must have a high school diploma or GED
However, training in a pharmacy tech program that is accredited by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) is required. Training programs that are accredited by the ASHP have shown that they meet the recommended requirements as deemed by the national certification programs from both the PTCB and the NHA
Pharmacy Technician training includes classroom, lab and hands-on training. Upon completion you will be prepared to take and pass the PTCB examination.
Physical therapists (PTs) are highly-educated, licensed health care professionals who can help patients reduce pain and improve or restore mobility - in many cases without expensive surgery and often reducing the need for long-term use of prescription medications and their side effects.
Physical therapists can teach patients how to prevent or manage their condition so that they will achieve long-term health benefits. PTs examine each individual and develop a plan, using treatment techniques to promote the ability to move, reduce pain, restore function, and prevent disability. In addition, PTs work with individuals to prevent the loss of mobility before it occurs by developing fitness- and wellness-oriented programs for healthier and more active lifestyles.
Physical therapists provide care for people in a variety of settings, including hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, home health agencies, schools, sports and fitness facilities, work settings, and nursing homes. State licensure is required in each state in which a physical therapist practices.
All physical therapists must receive a graduate degree from an accredited physical therapist program before taking the national licensure exam that allows them to practice. Physical therapists have the most specialized education to help people restore and improve motion. Today's physical therapist is required to complete a graduate degree - either a masters or clinical doctorate - from an accredited education program. A growing majority of programs offer the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree. After graduation, candidates must pass a state-administered national exam.
There is a high demand for physical therapists in the workforce. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of physical therapists is expected to grow by 36 percent from 2012 to 2022, much faster than the average for all occupations. While demand for physical therapists varies by geographical region and area of practice, the unemployment rates are low across the country. The need for physical therapists is expected to remain strong into the foreseeable future as the US population ages and the demand for physical therapy services grows.
A diagnostic medical sonographer is someone who uses special imaging equipment that directs sound waves into a patient’s body (in a procedure commonly known as an ultrasound, sonogram, or echocardiogram) to assess and diagnose various medical conditions.
Diagnostic ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves to produce images of the inside of the body. The diagnostic medical sonographer presses an instrument called an ultrasound transducer to the parts of the patient’s body that are being examined. The transducer emits pulses of sound that bounce back, causing echoes. The echoes are then sent to the ultrasound machine, which processes them and displays them as images.
Some responsibilities of a diagnostic medical sonographer include:
- Preparing patients for procedures by taking a patient’s history and answering any questions about the procedure
- Preparing and maintaining imaging equipment
- Applying a gel to aid the sound waves’ ability to show the inside of the body
- Operating equipment to get diagnostic images of areas in the patient’s body
- Analyzing the images to check for quality and adequate coverage of the area needed for diagnosis
- Recognizing the difference between normal and abnormal images
- Analyzing images to provide preliminary findings for physicians
- Recording findings and keeping track of patients’ records
Diagnostic medical sonographers specialize in different parts of the body. The following are examples of specific types of sonographers:
- Abdominal sonographers specialize in imaging a patient’s abdominal cavity and nearby organs, such as the kidney, liver, gallbladder, pancreas, or spleen.
- Breast sonographers specialize in imaging a patient’s breast tissues. Sonography aids mammography in the detection of breast cancer. Breast sonography is also used to track tumors in breast cancer patients.
- Musculoskeletal sonographers specialize in imaging muscles, ligaments, tendons, and joints.
- Neurosonographers specialize in imaging a patient’s nervous system, including the brain.
- Obstetric and gynecologic sonographers specialize in imaging the female reproductive system. Many pregnant women receive ultrasounds to track the baby's growth and health.
- Cardiovascular and vascular technologists use sonography to assist physicians in diagnosing problems with a patient’s heart, arteries and veins.
Sterile Processing Technicians
A central sterile processing technician is a medical professional who specializes in stocking, sterilizing, packaging, and preparing the tools and equipment that are used in surgical procedures. This technician frequently takes inventory of surgical tools and accessories and obtains additional supplies when necessary. He or she is often held responsible for ensuring the cleanliness and safety of operating rooms, tables, and equipment. These individuals may work in a number of different medical settings, including general hospitals, public health clinics, private doctors' offices, and specialized surgical centers.
A proficient technician can greatly ease the burdens and stresses on surgeons and physicians performing difficult emergency procedures. Surgeons can be confident that their instruments are sterilized and supplies are well stocked at all times. A central sterile processing technician usually refers to a checklist to make sure that sufficient quantities of gloves, masks, scalpels, needles, and other surgical accessories are present in an operating room. When supplies run low, a technician retrieves them from storage or places orders from distributing warehouses.
Many technicians work in highly specialized operating rooms, where they take great care to sterilize surfaces and equipment. Professionals are essential in preventing infections and the spread of disease from dirty instruments. They might inspect tools and equipment for signs of dirt or wear, and use alcohol pads or other chemical cleaning agents to sterilize them. Some technicians clean and maintain very delicate computerized and robotic equipment, taking extra care to avoid damaging machines.
A high school diploma is often the only education you need to become a sterile processing technician, but more specific training is available. Community colleges offer 1-year certificate programs in central service and sterile processing. Some offer a 1-semester course.
Training and educational courses in the field cover medical terminology, equipment management, sterilization and aseptic techniques. Other certificate programs might also include computer, professional development or lab courses.
Surgical techs go by many titles – operating room technician, scrubs tech, surgical assistant – but no matter what you call them, they all play an integral role in the operating room. What else do they do and what does it take to become one? Keep reading to find out.
A surgical technician, also called a surgical technologist, is a trained professional whose job is extremely important to people undergoing surgery. The roles of a surgical technician may vary among countries and even between medical facilities within a country. Surgical technicians complete special training, usually lasting from about one to two years, either at community or trade colleges. They may also be certified through various agencies, and take examinations after completing school to get certification.
- Before Surgery - One of the most important aspects of many surgical technician jobs is learning how to prepare operating rooms so that they are sterile, which helps lower the rate of infection in patients. In general, surgical techs don't actually clean up the operating rooms; this is left to maintenance staff. Surgical techs may oversee cleaning and prepare and sterilize all instruments that might be needed in an operation. They may also help prepare a patient for surgery, including shaving, cleaning, and disinfecting surgery sites.
- During Surgery - During actual surgeries the surgical technician is on hand to assist in a variety of roles. Techs must be able to follow directions accurately, quickly and carefully, so they need familiarity with the names of the many instruments a surgeon might require during an operation. Due to the fact that the surgical technician is usually present during operations, tolerance for seeing open surgeries is important.
- After Surgery - After surgery, the tech is often responsible for removing all used instruments. He or she is usually expected to make sure the equipment is maintained and cared for properly. He or she may also be responsible for making sure the operating room is ready for the next patient.
Before and after surgery, a surgical technician may assist with the transportation of patients to and from the operating room, although this is not true in all hospitals. He or she may deliver charts with a physician's orders, and may arrange for the type of room or location in a hospital to which a patient needs transport.
Becoming a surgical tech typically requires an associate’s degree from an accredited institution or certification from a specialized program. The education required usually takes a year or two to complete and includes many science courses, such as anatomy, physiology and pharmacology.
Becoming a surgical tech is worth it if you’re ready to finally leave behind your job to pursue a career you love. With building demand, excellent hands-on training and exciting earning potential, becoming a surgical tech opens a lot of possibilities for your future.