OPINION: Nurses are Never Truly Off Duty

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The nursing profession has been considered as a noble, compassionate, inspiring, and yet tiring one because it involves caring for people who are sick and suffering. Nursing in Canada is associated with preserving human well-being amidst extreme uncertainties.  Nurses work for long hours while serving patients who need them in their vulnerable time. For this and many other reasons, nurses are offered enormous respect because of the inspirational and extraordinary work that they do.  Along with other physicians and healthcare team members, nurses stand at the front lines in terrorized, war-ridden, disaster hit, epidemic, and pandemic hit places. They care for people while being their most fragile selves and bring entirely new hope to what may otherwise be the worst day of a patient’s life. 

A Day in the Life of a Nurse: 

After the completion of a nursing course in Canada, nurses become highly trained members of the medical industry. They use their knowledge and skills to help patients through operations and procedures.  In addition, they also help in developing treatment plans and offer advice on outpatient care. Mostly, nurses have a varied schedule so a day in the life of a nurse can include many duties.  Oftentimes, most nurses work as a part of a team of frontline health care professionals who diagnose and treat patients in various settings. Nurses work with multidisciplinary teams including physicians, technicians, specialists, assistants, healthcare providers, surgeons, etc. The everyday duties of a nurse might include: 

  • Checking the vital signs and recording the medical histories of a patient. 
  • Asking the patients about their symptoms and performing medical examinations if any. 
  • Taking blood samples and requesting or conducting diagnostic tests. 
  • Suggesting healthcare options to physicians. 
  • Administering medication to patients. 
  • Maintaining precise and comprehensive patient records. 
  • Taking consultation from healthcare providers if required. 
  • Educating and sensitizing patients on how to manage their conditions. 
  • Offering emotional support to patients and their loved ones. 
  • Assessing and implementing patient care plans. 
  • Recommending all sources of medical support to patients. 
  • Sharing important patient information during shift change with other nurses. 
  • Preparing the treatment rooms by sanitizing and assembling medical equipment. 
  • Checking and counting medication. 
  • Completing patient assessments by administering wound care and changing dressings. 

It must be noted that the everyday routine of nurses is not the same. Working at the front line of patient care only means that nurses are always interacting with people who are in stressful situations. Hence, nurses must be empathetic and work well under pressure. In addition, nurses are also expected to react appropriately to emergencies and unexpected events which means that good problem-solving skills and strategic thinking are ideal qualities for nurses. 

Going Beyond the Scope of Nursing Practice: 

Nurses experience instances that require them to go beyond the scope of their practice many times. For example, a family member, a friend, an acquaintance, or even someone they just met at a healthcare facility may ask nurses their doubts about a newly prescribed medicine.  In these cases, nurses can help the concerned person by comforting them and educating them more on the medications. The intervention offered by nurses can be helpful in ensuring that there is no risk of adverse drug nurses. Basically, what we are trying to imply here is that being a nurse goes far beyond a long shift.  

Below mentioned are some reasons that explain why a nurse is never truly off duty. 

1. Assessing all individuals around them: Nursing education is such that it trains the upcoming nurses to be mindful of people around them at all times. Nurses assess all individuals around them medically.  While sometimes, they could suggest a person suffering from flu to take some medicines, at other times they could keep a close eye on the frail-looking old man on the bus who appears to be out of breath. Nurses are often first responders to recognize a stranger in distress no matter where the location might be.  

2. Nurses are the best listeners: Right from day one of nursing education and training thereafter, the listening skills of nurses are honed in many ways. Nurses are some of the best listeners. They are accustomed to listening to the words of their patients and the sounds of their bodies.  The ears of nurses are trained to recognize everything including a heart’s murmur or wheezing to remote signs of depression or risk of suicide. The nurses look for clues in any information that is given so that the investigation can be supported further.  

3. Learning is an ongoing process: As a part of the nursing profession, education is an ongoing pursuit. As the treatment evolves, so do the skills set and experience of nurses.  While the knowledge and experience of nurses may belong to a particular specialty, nurses are still rooted in their foundation of employment training which trains them to develop a learning attitude. They go beyond their practice to learn consistently so that the patients can be helped.  

4. Always prepared to administer care: Nurses are prepared both on and off duty. They are prepared for questions, to give advice and references, and to administer life-saving care if there is a need in a situation. Basically, nurses are never truly off duty. 

Commitment Is Important Each Day: 

Nurses are health ambassadors and are never really off duty. No matter which specialty they choose, this profession is not upon which they can or should embark unless they are committed to it. There is an everyday challenge of providing a service where the actions of nurses are directly affecting a person’s life.  Nurses make and support decisions to ensure that the patients receive the best care. Doing this is not easy at all times, but the feeling of acting in the best interest of patients is what keeps the nurses going. Nurses put the patients first which means they work late when someone is sick even if that means missing out on family gatherings. This is not something that is possible unless nurses are dedicated to their roles. Hence, commitment is important each day. 


As a part of one of the most trusted healthcare professions, nurses are consistently sought out by the general public. Everyone confides in nurses which is why they are never truly off duty. This is a part of what makes being a nurse such an honour. 


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