What Is a Nurse?


Quick Answer

In general, a nurse is someone who protects, promotes and optimizes the health and abilities of others. Nurses can work to prevent illness or injury, alleviate suffering through diagnosis and subsequent treatment, and advise on care for individuals, families and communities.

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What Is a Nurse?
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Full Answer

There are many different types of nurses. Registered nurses, or RNs, practice in all health-care environments. Typically, an RN completes physical exams and health histories, provides health promotion and administers medication as well as wound care and other personal treatments. Registered nurses also have the ability to look at patient information and determine needed action, coordinate care with health-care professionals and direct and supervise care. While RNs are usually found in places like hospitals, nursing homes, medical offices and schools, they also work in locations like prisons and homeless shelters.

An Advanced Practice Registered Nurse, or APRN, refers to a registered nurse who has a Master's degree and clinical experience beyond that of a typical RN. Types of APRNs include a nurse practitioner and a certified nurse-midwife. The nurse practitioner is usually found in nursing homes providing medication and other care, while a nurse-midwife provides women with gynecological and low-risk obstetrical care. Another type of APRN, the certified registered nurse anesthetist, is responsible for about 65 percent of anesthetics given to patients each year.

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