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Clinic Nurse Duties and Responsibilities
Depending on the facility, a clinic nurse's duties and responsibilities can vary. We analyzed several job postings and determined the following as core responsibilities of clinic nurses:
Conduct Patient Intake Clinic nurses work closely with patients throughout the intake process to help doctors develop treatment plans and strategies. The clinic nurse asks patients questions about current symptoms, medical histories, and medications to provide doctors with a complete understanding of a patient's current medical needs and background. In some cases, clinic nurse will also conduct preliminary tests such as blood pressure and respiratory checks.
Support Doctors Many of a clinic nurse's duties involve providing direct support and assistance for the facility's doctors. A clinic nurse may prepare equipment or other instruments for a doctor or assist with procedures during a patient's stay. This aspect of the role requires a clinic nurse to rapidly shift between tasks and duties depending on where doctors need the most assistance.
Administer Care and Medication Clinic nurses also provide direct care to patients, including administering medication or treatments. They may change the dressing on a wound, apply topical treatments, or administer medication via intravenous methods or direct injection. Clinic nurses also follow up with patients to determine whether courses of treatment are effective and assess patients during follow-up appointments.
Observe Patients Clinic nurses contribute to successful long- and short-term treatment through careful observation of patients on initial and follow-up visits. They may take note of changes in a patient's overall health, recovery progression, and reactions to treatment, updating patient records to reflect new information. Clinic nurses also report any problems or potential issues that they observe directly to doctors.
Maintain Equipment Clinic nurses also ensure that facilities are clean and prevent the spread of disease by sanitizing and maintaining equipment. They follow proper disposal procedures for potentially hazardous materials including needles and tubing and clean equipment that is used by multiple patients within the facility. Typically, clinic nurses are assigned to a particular station and tasked with maintaining and sanitizing that station's equipment.
Communicate with Patients and Care Providers Clinic nurses interact with patients throughout the day and often liaise between patients, doctors, and patient representatives like family members. Clinic nurses need to adhere to privacy laws including the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) to maintain patient confidentiality, and they often need to provide family members and other care providers with information about patient health and well-being.
Clinic Nurse Skills and QualificationsClinic nurses are at the forefront of patient care, supporting doctors and other medical staff through observation and assistance. Clinic nurses should have at least an associate degree in nursing, along with certification and the following skills:
- Medical Assessment - Clinic nurses perform patient intake and assessment, which includes measuring patient health and wellness, both through direct observation and by conducting medical tests and evaluations
- Patient Care - Experience with providing care to patients is a necessity since clinic nurses treat illnesses and injuries and administer medication under the direction of doctors and other care providers
- Attention to Detail - This role also requires a high level of attention to detail as clinic nurses listen to patient complaints, observe changes in their health, and provide treatment information to other care providers
- Critical Thinking - They also respond to changing patient circumstances and to do so, are skilled at rapidly assessing situations and making critical decisions about patient care
- Communication Skills - Because they speak directly to patients and provide vital information to doctors and patient representatives, clinic nurses are effective communicators
Clinic Nurse Education and TrainingMost clinic nurses have at least an associate degree in nursing, although many healthcare facilities hire candidates who have completed a bachelor's degree in nursing. A combination of education and nursing experience is extremely helpful for clinic nurses. Additionally, completing a master's degree in nursing (MSN) provides many opportunities for career advancement. Clinic nurses who complete their master's degree have a great deal of independence and tend to specialize in fields such as pediatric or geriatric care.
Clinic Nurse Salary and OutlookClinic nurse salaries largely depend on a nurse's level of training or licensure. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), certified nurse assistants (CNAs), who tend to work under the supervision of other nursing and clinical staff, earned an average of $26,590 per year as of May 2016, with the highest paid 10 percent earning more than $37,900 and the lowest paid 10 percent earning less than $20,040 annually. Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) earned $44,090 on average, with the lowest paid 10 percent earning less than $32,510 and the highest paid earning over $60,420. Registered nurses (RNs) earned a median salary of $68,450, with the highest earners making over $102,990 and the lowest paid earning less than $47,120 per year. The BLS expects employment in the nursing field to grow at a faster-than-average rate between 2016 and 2026. RN careers are expected to increase 15 percent from 2016 to 2026, with CNA employment increasing 11 percent.
If you'd like to learn more about a career as a clinic nurse, check out the following resources for more information:
American Nurses Association (ANA) - Nurses can join the ANA to find out more about certification, education, and professional development opportunities as well as to connect with other professionals.
RNotes: Nurse's Clinical Pocket Guide - This guide by Ehren Myers is a useful reference book for clinic nurses. It provides information on assisting with patient intake and observation.
National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists (NACNS) - Clinic nurses who specialize in an area of patient care and receive their master's degree can join the NACNS to connect with others in the field and advance their careers.
Clinical Nurse Leader Certification Review - The second edition of this text helps nurses prepare for clinical nurse certification tests with case studies and core competencies.
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