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Upon arrival at the health care facility, the practical nurse checks-in with the nurse previously on duty. The nurse from the previous shift will bring the next nurse up to speed. They will exchange any special information or instructions regarding the patients they are caring for, which will help them plan the shift by determining which patients need more attention.


Because of the personal nature of this profession, it is very important that the nurse make contact with his or her patients at the beginning of a shift. At this time, they can check on all patients, say hello and ask how they are feeling. Shortly after greeting patients they will meet with the RN or doctor who will brief them on changes since their last shift.


Much of the PN’s job is to help with everyday needs of the patient. Some patients need the most basic of care such as bathing, eating, and changing clothes. At in-home care and nursing homes an PN must have compassion and the drive to nurture their charges. This will help with the repetitive nature of personalized care.


A practical nurse is trained to perform a wide range of medical procedures depending on the patient’s needs. These specialized procedures may include inserting a catheter, dressing a wound, drawing blood for tests, or simply administering medication. With this type of work, an PN can expect no two days to be the same as the needs of their patients are always changing. A large portion of the typical day is consumed with monitoring charts and using the time in-between to check on patients and review paperwork.


The end of the shift is much like the beginning – a meeting with the next shift PN. During their meeting, the nurses will make sure that patient charts are as updated as possible. They will also check-in with the patient one last time to make sure they have everything they need. It is important that this transition from nurse to nurse goes smoothly.