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Do nurses need to learn to assess health – isn't that a doctor thing?

Globally it has been noted that there are not sufficient doctors to carry out the work needed to care for the growing population. In the UK in recent years, the National Health Service (NHS) has been tasked to find other professional groups to take on some of the work traditionally performed by junior doctors.

The largest group of professionals already involved in patient care is the nursing profession. A variety of extended roles have developed over the past 10–15 years, moving nurses into more advanced practice roles. Nurses within general practice, community settings and the acute sector are now expected to assess the current health of their patient group, and act appropriately to deal with deterioration in health.

For the average nurse this has both exciting opportunities to extend their role, and the alarming possibility of increasing responsibility for their patients’ health. Previously, if a nurse wanted to develop their career beyond Band 6 (clinical sister/charge nurse), they would have to consider taking on a management role. This option does not appeal to all nurses, as many wish to remain clinical and continue with the patient contact that makes our role so satisfying.

Nowadays there are increasing numbers of roles for a nurse to take up, giving the clinical aspect a higher priority, and leading to potential Consultant Nurse status. This will not suit every nurse, but if we want to progress in our posts we must be prepared to take on extra responsibility.

Your task

Discuss your thoughts on career progression. Do you think all nurses should learn to assess health?

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This article is from the free online course:

An Introduction to Physical Health Assessment

Coventry University