The Transition To The Role of Professional Nurse

My most recent employment included working as a Rehabilitation vocational nurse in an in-patient Rehabilitation hospital. Typically I cared for 6-8 patients at a time, providing total care for each. I am IV certified with much experience in the field, particularly within pediatrics. I have worked with professional nurses, physical and occupational therapists, social workers, dietitians, physicians and more as part of a collaborative and comprehensive health care team.

     Issues and Concerns Surrounding Transition For Practical/Vocational Nurse.

A licensed practical or vocational nurse (LPN or LVN) is often the first step in one’s career toward becoming a certified professional nurse. The role of a vocational nurse differs significantly from the role of a professional nurse. Most nurses trained at this level have one year of study experience at a vocational or community college. A vocational nurse is used to working under the supervision of a licensed RN or professional nurse or physician (Quan, 2004).

There are multiple issues and concerns surrounding the transition to the role of professional nurse, none the least of which is the shortage of qualified nurse educators to provide guidance to LPN’s desiring a career as an RN (Quan, 2004). There are also multiple levels of education one may pursue as a professional nurse that must be considered (Quan, 2004). For example, while many hospitals in the past have offered three-year courses allowing students to live in the hospitals, few of these programs still remain (Quan, 2004). Most vocational nurses now desiring a professional career must pursue their Bachelor of Science in Nursing or an associate’s degree in nursing. This requires much time, effort and of course, acceptance into a qualified nursing program. .

A vocational nurse must also have the ability to effectively transition to the role of a supervisor or leader, capable of making complex decisions and delegating tasks to others as part of their job responsibilities as a professional nurse.

Clinical Judgment in Autonomy and Accountability of Professional Nursing Practice.

Professional nursing practice affords RN’s a relatively large amount of autonomy and accountability on the job. Professional nurses are often called on to use their own technical expertise and judgment to help manage and oversee patient care as part of members of a collaborative healthcare team (Shanbhag, 2002). They are accountable for the results of any decisions they make regarding patient care, even when those decisions involve delegating tasks to others. In cases where professional nurses supervise the work functions of others, professional nurses must also be held accountable for patient outcomes and the outcomes of their underlings. Professional nurses are often afforded the ability to delegate tasks as they see appropriate to underlings including vocational nurses (Shanbhag, 2002). This requires not only a great deal of decision-making ability but also the ability to differentiate among underling’s skills, qualifications, and abilities. This will help them remain accountable for the actions of each member of their healthcare team.

A professional nurse is also more likely to be held accountable for patient’s outcomes as they often supervise the care of other nurses or health care assistants involved in patient care (Shanbhag, 2002). Most are expected to exercise “independent judgment” reserving the right to direct care in certain circumstance (Shanbhag, 2002). Professional nurses are also more likely to be held accountable for patient outcomes as well as the performance of those working under their direct supervision.

How Professional Nurse Collaborates with Others To Achieve Effective Patient Care.

The best possible outcome for patients is only realized when professional nurses work as members of a multidisciplinary team, collaborating to ensure the best patient outcome. A professional nurse does not work alone but rather as a member of a comprehensive patient care team whose goals include optimizing patient outcomes.

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