Who Calls the Shots: Nursing Roles in a Hospital

Many people believe doctors are the driving forces inside a hospital, but often times that’s not the case. Nurses are known to be the “eyes and ears of the hospital,” and usually experience more patient interaction than doctors who typically have much shorter periods of time with each patient due to their busy schedule.

If patient interaction is one of the main reasons you are studying to become a nurse, you most likely will feel right at home in a hospital setting. Using your nursing degree to obtain a challenging position within a hospital allows you to put your compassion, diligence, and professional nursing traits to good use.

In addition, as the go-to person in a hospital, a nurse is also rewarded with a certain level of pride.

Working at a hospital provides a unique professional experience. Every day you must offer support to families and patients who may be dealing with something tough or feeling emotionally fragile, according to “Six Reasons to Work in a Hospital” on Monster.com.

For nurses working within a hospital setting, the roles will vary depending on the department they are working in at any given time. These areas may include:

- Surgery

- Emergency room

- Intensive care

- Cancer patient treatment

- Obstetrics

- Pediatrics

No matter which department you may be working in, you will have several common roles and responsibilities to be aware of as a professional registered nurse.

Educating Patients and Families

Nurses are the first ones to provide a patient and their family with general information regarding a particular health issue or concern. They will help the patient and their family to understand what to expect or what they are currently going through.

Executing Research

A nurse is responsible for researching a patient to discover their medical case or history. The information a nurse finds will be used by doctors to determine and understand a patient’s condition or illness.

Communicating with Imaging/Diagnostic Testing Department

There are several different scheduled or last-minute tests that can take place at a hospital, such as an MRI or CT scan. A nurse is responsible for working with the imaging or diagnostic testing department to ensure a patient’s test is being completed in a timely manner.

Coordinating with Pharmacy

A nurse must work closely with the hospital’s pharmacy to check-up on a patient’s prescription, correct a medication error, and to provide them with any extra needed information regarding a patient or a patient’s prescription.

Providing Bedside Care

These nurses are responsible for making sure a patient is comfortable for their entire hospital stay. Bedside care nurses make patient evaluations, check on patients’ vital signs, and manage medications.


Head nurses supervise, set work shifts, and ensure a nurse is correctly trained for their assigned area of the hospital. They are also responsible for assigning various duties and tasks to other nurses and nurse aides.

A quality team of nurses is important for the success of a hospital, and that hospital’s success directly correlates to the quality and level of service the nurses provide.

Fortunately for new nursing graduates, hospitals provide a wide array of career opportunities, as well as provide a setting where new graduates are able to see (and possibly try) different kinds of nursing jobs. So, if you are trying to decide where you’d like to work as a nurse, base your decision on the type of environment you’d like to work in, amount of challenges you’d like to face, and type of tasks you’d like to perform on a daily basis.

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Jennifer is a Content and Social Media Specialist at Rasmussen College. She researches, writes and edits blog posts designed to help and inspire current, past and future students through their entire educational process in an effort to encourage learning at a college level and beyond.

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