What To Expect From Your Nurse


The American Nurses’ Association (ANA) traditionally defined nursing as the “diagnosis and treatment of human responses to actual or potential health problems.” In 2004 they expanded that definition to acknowledge four essential features of contemporary professional nursing practice:

  • Attention to the full range of human experiences and responses to health and illness
  • Interpretation of data collected from the patient and other sources
  • Application of scientific knowledge to diagnose and treat nursing needs
  • Promotion of a caring relationship that facilitates health and healing

What does this expanded definition mean to you as a health care consumer? It means that your nurse will constantly be collecting and interpreting information about you and your medical condition that will then be used to diagnose your ever-changing nursing needs. Once your individual needs are identified, your nurse will collaboratively plan along with you and other members of your health care team to meet those needs.

Nursing is a caring profession. No one gets rich from being a nurse. People go into nursing because they truly care about others. That is the pre-requisite for entering the profession. The rewards of nursing are totally intrinsic. They come from the satisfaction of knowing that you have helped an individual, family or community cope or get well through health education, illness prevention, and health promotion. Nurses offer holistic care to meet the physical, emotional, cultural, social and spiritual needs of the health care consumers that are entrusted to their care. Their profession is based on a commitment to integrity, honesty and professionalism and their mantra is to “do no harm.” A commitment to keeping patients safe and secure is at the core of everything a nurse does.


Florence Nightingale was the founder of modern nursing back in the 1830’s during the time of the Crimean War. The Nightingale Oath is still used universally by nurses upon graduation as a pledge of ethical standards of their profession and is as relevant today as it was 180+ years ago.. “I solemnly pledge myself before God and in the presence of this assembly to pass my life in purity and and to practice my profession faithfully. I will abstain from whatever is deleterious and mischievous, and will not take or knowingly administer any harmful drug. I will do all in my power to maintain and elevate the standard of my profession and will hold in confidence all personal matters committed to my keeping and and all family affairs coming to my knowledge in the practice of my calling. With loyalty will I endeavor to aid the physician in his work, and devote myself to the welfare of those committed to my care. “


You should expect your nurse to be warm and welcoming to you, to your family members, to your visitors, and to your identified patient advocate. S/he should answer all of your questions respectfully and be there to assist as needed.

Your nurse should introduce him/herself by name and title. You should be able to read the name tag of every person who cares for you.

While you may require lots of rest and sleep during your hospitalization to help you recover, your nurse will need to disturb you during periods of rest or sleep during the act of caring for you. The number of disturbances will often be related to how sick you are. Patients in Intensive Care Units will require more frequent care and monitoring, sometimes as often as every 15 minutes. This just comes with the territory. Nurses are trained to be sensitive to this, but there are times that you will need to be disturbed during your sleep and even have the bright lights turned on. This sleep deprivation can be detrimental to your well-being and if you are startled by the process, this can cause an increase in your blood pressure and heart rate. You or your advocate should discuss this with the nurse in charge of your unit.

You should expect your nurse to treat you with dignity and respect regardless of your condition, behavior, age, sexual preference, social status, economic status, ethnicity, race or religion. Period. There is no discussion here. There are no exceptions to this rule. Report any such transgressions to the nurse in charge of the unit immediately.

You should expect your nurse to be sensitive to modesty issues and not necessarily expose any parts of your body. If this happens, tell your nurse that you are uncomfortable with this.

You should expect to receive competent and professional care. Most states now require nurses to show proof of continuing education as a pre-requisite to license renewal. This is a good thing for health care consumers as it guarantees that your nurses are keeping up with current nursing knowledge and skills.

You should expect your nurse to be compassionate and caring. It is not a sign of weakness for your nurse to cry along with you and your family, however this compassion should not interfere with your nurse giving you the care you require.

You should expect continuity of care. The nursing process described in the first paragraph results in a written plan of care specific for meeting your identified needs. Each one of your nurses will follow that plan of care and alter it as your condition changes. End-of-shift reports shared between your day nurse, evening nurse and night nurse will also promote continuity of care from shift-to-shift.


Your nurse should be your advocate, doing no harm and not allowing anyone to do so either! S/he should question other members of your health team, including your doctors, when questions need to be asked. S/he should make sure all of your questions are answered in a timely fashion. S/he will do everything necessary to guarantee your safety and security.

If your nurse fails short on any of the above-mentioned expectations, feel free to let that individual nurse know what you are uncomfortable with. If you do not get satisfaction from that or feel intimidated by confronting your nurse directly, ask to speak with the charge nurse and share your concerns. If that brings no satisfaction, ask for the nursing supervisor. You should share your concerns with your personal doctor as well. Doctors have lots of power in the clinical setting. When all else fails, ask for a visit from the hospital clergy. Regardless of your religion, they will be compassionate and ready to help. At the end of your hospitalization, you will be asked to complete a patient satisfaction survey. Answer it honestly. Share both your positive and negative comments. The people in charge want to hear what you have to say about the care you received at their institution. Take the time to do this. Your opinion is valued and does make a difference.


Do not be compelled to give a tip to the the nurse that gives you the excellent care that you expect and deserve. That is their job. That excellence is the level of care that they are expected to administer. Traditionally, accepting tips has been a no-no for nurses. A nice note to that nurse with a copy sent to the Director of Nursing at the hospital is always greatly appreciated. And a box of treats for all the nurses on the unit to enjoy is also a nice way to show your appreciation to the entire staff for the excellent care they gave you.


Advocate: One who pleads the cause of another; one who supports, defends, and verbally recommends a cause, proposal or line of action; adviser or supporter.

Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA): provides basic hygiene & comfort care to patients under the direct supervision of an LPN or RN.

Health Care Team: specially trained personnel, including doctors & nurses, who collaboratively work together to help health care consumers meet their health care needs with the best possible outcome.

Holistic Care: care which views the patient as a ” whole ” being and which is aimed at meeting the patients’ physical, emotional, cultural, social and spiritual needs.

Licensed Practical or Vocational Nurse: provides physical care to patients under the direct supervision of a Registered Nurse, Licensed Medical Doctor or Dentist. Educational preparation ranges from 14 -18 months.

Licensed Registered Nurse (RN): manages and coordinates all nursing care provided to patients. Educational preparation ranges from 24 months – 5 years.

Nursing Process: a systematic method of collecting relevant patient information, identifying patient problems, developing an outcome-based plan to achieve desired patient outcomes, carrying out the plan and evaluating the results.

” Patient Perspectives on Nursing 1 ” – 7:54 minutes

” Patient Perspectives on Nursing 2 ” – 10:58 minutes

” Patient Perspectives on Nursing 3 ” – 14:17 minutes

” Dying Person ” – 2 minutes



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