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How can nurses make a difference in the health of their patients?

Nurses make a difference in the lives of their patients each and every day!  Nurses protect, promote, and optimize the health of those for whom they are responsible. They play a significant role in health promotion and disease prevention, alleviate pain and suffering, and advocate for individuals, families, communities and populations.  Nurses collaborate with other members of the healthcare team to ensure positive outcomes and a culture of safety. 
Nurses make a difference in the health of their patients by being bedside 24/7, getting insight into symptoms, and working with families. In this video, clinical nurse specialist Alice Benjamin, RN, explains all the vital ways nurses touch lives.

How can Nurses make a difference in the health of their patients? Nurses can make a huge difference in the health of their patients by many methods. Nurses can teach their patients education regarding the disease process that make be affecting the patient at that time. Nurses give patients resources to improve their lives and disease outcomes. Nurses pass medications and teach procedures to patients to help them achieve compliance with their health related needs. Nurses can improve a patient’s health by teaching them emotional coping skills to handle stressful situations. The opportunities are endless for the role that a nurse may play in a patient's health.

LVNs (Licensed Vocational Nurses) are skilled healthcare workers who aid nurses and doctors. LVNs are generally known as licensed practical nurses (LPNs) in states other than Texas and California. People in this entry-level health care position are responsible for providing basic nursing care under the supervision of a registered nurse or physician. This career requires more training than a CNA (Certified Nurses’ Assistant) but less than an RN (Registered Nurse). Responsibilities vary, but include providing basic bedside care, scheduling and confirming appointments, recording patient’s vital signs, updating charts, preparing and giving injections, dressing wounds, giving alcohol rubs and collecting samples. The job also often comprises assisting with routine activities that keep patients comfortable, such as bathing, dressing, and personal hygiene. If patients need help eating, LVNs are generally the ones who assist them. Experienced LVNs may supervise nursing assistants and aides
Nurses play a huge role in the care of the patient. They are often the first line who meets the patients, comforts the patients and family, and educates the patients about next steps to better health and recovery. Nurses are the eyes and ears when the Physician is not present. Our job is to give optimal care and help guide the patient to recovery as part of the health care team. In addition, nurses use evidenced-based practice to better educate patients about living healthier lifestyles. Preventative measures are an important to help preserve health living.
Registered Nurses are uniquely educated and skilled to improve the health of their patients in every situation where they interact with clients/patients. RNs bring to the therapeutic relationship their health care knowledge, psychomotor skills and their personal attributes and experiences. They interact with the client to facilitate the establishment of mutually approved goals. They apply appropriate doses of strategies and techniques to assist the client to achieve those goals and reinforce new skills and behaviours to maintain those goals. The RN is then changed by the client as well. Their interaction becomes part of her/his experience to be applied to the next RN/client interaction. These concepts are an accumulation of ideas and teaching from many nurse theorists and experts over my years in this profession.

Nurses have many roles in the care of patients. Hospital nurses are often the ones who are with patients during 8-12 hour shifts. Through constant assessment they understand even small changes that can affect a patient's outcome. They also are responsible for education of patients and/or families to ensure a return home be a safe one. They are important members of a patient's treatment team and as advocates for every patient they ensure the patient's voices be heard. And, as importantly, they are the practitioners that sit and listen to patients, who do not judge, who show caring in every patient encounter.

Through the changes that health care reform has proposed more nurses will be in the front of patient care. Advanced practice nurses may see patients in primary care. There will be more emphasis on staying healthy and preventing some common diseases, such as diabetes. This will be accomplished with the partnership of nursing, patients, and other healthcare disciplines, such as physicians.

All nurses, no matter how they practice, are there to ensure safe, effective, and empathetic patient care. They place the patients in the the center of care and work with other healthcare professionals to ensure the outcomes of care are the best possible for every patient seen.


Nurses make a difference everyday in the health of their patients by educating and listening. As nurses take time to find out about those entrusted to their care, a partnership between caregiver and ill begins to form. One on one relationships are begun with the assessment of the patient and are fostered with each encounter. Nurses that care are the most effective in making a difference. It has been said that "People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care," and I feel that is the beginning for a trusting relationship to help make a difference in their patients lives.     
Deb Cordes
Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation

Nursing is a profession that is viewed by the public as one of the most ethical and honest professions. Individuals that choose nursing as a profession have the unique opportunity to make a difference on an everyday basis. Nurses have the opportunity to have an impact on the health and well-being of patients and families from the bedside to the boardroom. A difference can be made regardless of the career path a nurse may choose.  At the bedside the nurse has the opportunity to utilize his/her knowledge and translate that in to compassionate quality care. At the boardroom the nurse can utilize his/her knowledge to have an impact on allocating resources that enhance the quality and provision of care. Regardless of the location a Nurse can make a difference in the lives and well-being of patients, families and communities. Either on a small scale or a larger scale a nurse demonstrates knowledge, compassion, ethics and honesty in the provision of care and within the profession.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.