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A nurse caring for a sick child in hospitalNurses work with doctors, therapists and other members of the nursing team both to treat illnesses, conditions, injuries and disabilities and provide suitable care for their patients. Nurses' traditional role is as care providers, but many nurses practise independently in a wide variety of ways. Some senior nurses are, in some cases, authorised to diagnose health problems and prescribe medications and other therapies. Education, research and helping to shape health policy are also key nursing roles. Nurses practise in hospitals, clinics, doctor's surgeries, homes, schools and pharmaceutical companies. Some work on cruise ships, in military service and in prisons.

A Nigerian nurse attends a patient.
A nurse anaesthetist refills a machine with anesthaesia gas, used to keep the patient unconscious during surgery.

Typical duties

Daily duties for many nurses involve the following tasks: administering medications; managing intravenous (IV) therapy, including injections and infusions (usually called drips); caring for patients; observing and recording patients' conditions; communicating with doctors; providing emotional support to patients and their families; advising patients on how to take their medications or carry out physical therapy; educating patients—and the general public—on medical conditions and how to live and eat healthily.
Community nurses in Vietnam providing medication and health care to children

A varied profession

Many nurses wear sanitary clothing called scrubs when involved with patient care in hospitals. Originally designed for use by surgeons, who would put them on when sterilizing themselves, or "scrubbing in", before surgery, they are now worn by many people who work in hospital staff, including both doctors and nurses. personnel. Scrubs are designed to be simple—with few places for contaminants to "hide"—easy to launder, and cheap to replace.

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