Any attempts to analyze the role of a nurse should start with clarification of the term “nurse”. According to Basavanthappa, the word “nurse” was derived from the Latin root “nutrix”, which means “to nourish” (Basavanthappa, 2003). In relation to this, all definitions of a nurse revolve around describing the latter as a person that nourishes, protects, fosters, and takes care of the people who are sick, injured, or old.
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Based on this, a set of roles of a nurse was defined. With time, it came to include not just the concepts of ensuring comfort and providing care, but the concepts of health promotion and prevention of certain illnesses along with prevailing concern for the patient as a whole (Basavanthappa, 2003). Today the roles and functions of a nurse include that of a caregiver (the nurse provides help to the client as he/she regains health during the healing process); a communicator (the nurse ensures effective and clear communication is maintained with the client), a teacher (the nurse explains a variety of concepts, procedures, and facts about health, etc. either in a formal or unplanned manner), a counsellor (the nurse effectively uses his/her therapeutic background and communication skills to help the client to solve the problem or make a decision), a decision maker (prior to starting any nursing intervention, the nurse must make a competent decision), a leader/manager (the nurse acts responsible for coordinating actions of other health care team members), a comforter (the nurse provides comfort to the client by demonstration of their care of him/her as a unique personality with particular needs and feelings), a rehabilitator (the nurse helps the client to adapt after the illness), and a protector and advocate (the nurse helps to sustain safe environment for the client and provides assistance in protection and assertion of his/her legal and human rights) (Basavanthappa, 2003). Some other roles are the nurse as a change agent (the nurse initiates various changes or helps the clients somehow modify themselves or the system of care) and a researcher (the nurse takes part in identification of important research problems, in the investigation and consumes scientific findings) (Roles & responsibilities of a nurse, 2008).
There can be found five different types of nursing: adult nursing, children’s nursing, mental health nursing, and learning disabilities nursing, and midwifery. Adult nursing, which is the most popular type of nursing, entails providing nursing care to adult people. To illustrate, the general description of the adult nursing field of work at NHS Careers website says, “Adult nurses work with young and old adults with diverse health conditions, both chronic and acute” (Adult nursing, n.d.). Specifically, the role of the adult nurse is to provide assessment of the client’s care needs and work with the patient to work out a plan of care; deliver medical care if the patient is incapable of caring for himself/herself; facilitate the client’s adaptation and returning to independence after an illness or after injury; provide support to the patient and his/her family members throughout the illness or in the period following an accident; and, finally, to monitor the effectiveness of the prescribed treatment (Nazarko, 2004). To ensure the improvement of quality of the patient’s life, the adult nurse is required to apply a variety of interpersonal skills, with the focus on caring, teaching, counselling, and management. As a matter of fact, the adult nurse is required to be able to juggle a range of priorities and work effectively in different circumstances, including difficult situations. Other special attributes of the adult nurse include maintaining the presence of mind and being flexible to juggle numerous needs of various patients simultaneously. In this respect, communication skills are perceived as critical. In particular, the nurse should be capable of setting patients at their ease in circumstances that are often full of pressure (Adult nursing, n.d.).
Unlike adult nursing, children’s nursing is about providing nursing care to children and young people up to 18 years old. The children’s nurse provides care in a number of conditions which are related to both long-term and acute problems with health (Children’s nurse, 2012). The attributes and skills of the children’s nurse include excellent medical background of children development, based on the idea that children are not “miniature adults” (Children’s nursing, n.d.), ability to use this knowledge to minimise the negative impact on a child of a certain illness or admission to the hospital; ability to work in collaboration with children’s parents; being able to interpret children’s conduct and reactions in an intelligent manner to determine the severity and essence of pain, since children are not always able to talk about what they feel; being “intuitive and immensely reassuring” (Children’s nursing, n.d.), effective non-verbal communications skills and being able to play with kids, as well as being able to teach parents or carers how to care for children at home (Children’s nurse, 2012).
Learning disabilities nursing is about providing medical care to people who have learning disabilities and suffer from a variety of physical and mental health problems (Learning disabilities nursing, n.d.). In relation to this, the nurse provides care to people who lack an ability to comprehend new and quite complex information and lack an ability to cope with different things independently. While medical evidence suggests that learning disabilities cannot be cured, the role of the nurse is to provide educational, social, and health care in order to minimise the impacts of disability and aid the disabled in achieving their potential (Nazarko, 2004). Learning disabilities nurses are required to be capable of supporting “the well-being and social inclusion of people with a learning disability” through maintaining or even improving their physical and mental conditions, through reducing specific barriers, and providing assistance in the client’s pursue of a fulfilling existence (Learning disabilities nursing, n.d.). Learning disabilities nurse’s abilities should include abilities to work in family settings, in the sphere of adult education, in community settings, and in the field of young people’s education. One of the most important skills is sensitive interaction based on flexible and well-developed communicative skills. Assertiveness is sometimes required, as well as the ability to deal with patients of all ages (Learning disabilities nursing, n.d.).
To conclude, the range of roles, performed by modern nurses, is quite broad. It includes basic roles related to providing medical care as well as roles that require adequate psychological background. The three types of nursing discussed in the paper have been adult nursing, children’s nursing, and learning disabilities nursing.