Typical Day in the Life of a Nurse

Posted by Athena Career Academy on Jul 11, 2016

The daily routine of working as an RN (registered nurse) can be described as anything but laid-back. It's usually fast-paced, fairly hectic and complex, but for many people the work is extremely rewarding as well. For anyone interested in pursuing a career as a registered nurse, it's important to first understand what the typical day of an RN's life is like to be able to gauge if it indeed is the right career path for you. You don't want to be investing two to four years of your life and thousands of dollars in student loans only to find that the nursing attire doesn't really fit you.

The Duties of an RN
Ask any RN about their daily roles in the healthcare setting and you'll probably hear varying answers. This is because RNs are employed in a variety of work settings and are therefore required to perform different responsibilities. In general, however, an RN's role can be summarized into - patient care, acute care, case management, treatment planning, advanced cardiac life support, and clinical experience. Using these general set of roles, we can now start to see different daily lives of an RN.

Besides these expected medical skills, which is usually instilled through a nursing care program, an RN must also possess the right soft skills to be able to work in certain settings. For instance, nurses must have active listening skills and sharp social perceptiveness in order to read different settings and patients correctly. Analytical skills and quick decision-making process also come in handy as each day brings new patient cases and environmental changes that require you to be quick on your toes.


Working in a Clinic
Registered nurses who work in a clinical setting arrive early hours to set up, usually even before the doctor arrives. Prioritized tasks will include, but not limited to, getting exam tables prepped and in position, checking diagnostic equipment like otoscope and ophthalmascope, and switching on computers and networks to access critical patient information. A slow day in a clinic will mean roughly 15 to 20 patients coming in while busier days will range from 30 up.


Working in a Hospital
An RN stationed in a hospital will work in more varying conditions and under higher stress levels. The start of the work day will depend on your shift, which usually changes every week or so. An RN working for a hospital will start his/her day reviewing patient charts left by the nurses from the previous shift. Patient recording will also be the last activity an RN does in his/her daily shift. In between patient recording, nurses will conduct patient rounds with the floor's doctors, give medications to patients at prescribed times, monitor vital signs, and so forth.

The typical day of an RN can always change in a matter of minutes. Whether it's a patient in critical condition or a change in department or shift, the only constant thing in an RN's career is change. However, one thing that remains is the feeling of fulfillment you get from helping those in need. 

Topics: Registered Nurse