Treatment plans are key to patient care, setting out the best course of action to boost a patient’s recovery. Depending on the illness or injury, they can be highly complex or relatively simple. Although there may be some similarities between care plans, they very much reflect a patient’s requirements as an individual. The treatment plan is likely to involve several different medical professionals, but among them, nurses can help play a significant role in developing treatment plans for patients and facilitating them at every stage of the patient’s treatment.
Nurses start learning about treatment plans and how they can help develop them during their nursing training. During their clinical practices, they can see them in action in real-life settings and will learn more about how they are developed. While there is a lot to take in on nursing degrees, qualifying as a nurse can be achieved quicker than you expect, particularly for those who already have a degree.
A good example of a second degree online BSN program can be found at the University of Indianapolis, where the course includes on-campus residencies, a clinical placement, and 100% online study that can be completed in as little as fifteen months. Focusing on holistic healthcare and assessments of patients across their life spans, students will be well-prepared to start contributing to treatment plans upon qualification.
The first stage of a treatment plan is assessment as the medical professionals must understand the problem. Nurses can play a key role in this by monitoring a patient’s vital signs, checking their records, and recording their symptoms. Some of this may be achieved by the nurse simply talking to the patient about their symptoms.
The information recorded by the nurse and other medical professionals will help identify the condition or help recommend what further tests need to be ordered to inform a diagnosis, such as an x-ray or blood test. While the diagnosis is generally carried out by a physician or an advanced practice nurse, a registered nurse will help inform it and may use their own judgment in providing treatment while a diagnosis is awaited.
With a diagnosis, the medical team formulates a plan of how treatment will progress. This may involve several different medical professionals, and these include nurses. Nurses today are often trained on a holistic model where they consider the patient as a whole and not merely a condition or collection of symptoms. Therefore, they can often offer a broader perspective than the physician.
When implementing the treatment plan, the nurse may need to follow the physician’s instructions when intervening. But the nurse should also use evidence-based practice guidelines to help decide for themselves the necessary interventions.
Patient treatment plans are continually evaluated and developed to reflect the patient’s changing condition. Nurses tend to be the medical professionals most involved in patient care and usually carry out observations or talk to the patient about their symptoms. They may then use this knowledge to make interventions or help inform the physician in their evaluation of the treatment plan and how it should be developed. It is important that the treatment plan is as up to date as possible, and often, it is the nurses who facilitate this.
To play a key role in developing patient treatment plans, the nurse will need to be a skilled communicator. They will need to ask the right questions of the patient to fully understand the symptoms and record the answers and any other observations they make. This must then be communicated to the physician and other medical professionals. Throughout the treatment, the need for good communication will continue, particularly at shift handovers, to ensure the treatment plan continues to be effective.
The idea of the nurse as little more than a doctor’s assistant belongs very much in the past. Nurses today are respected professionals who can play a vital role in the treatment plan from assessment through to discharge. Advanced practice nurses can even make the diagnosis and prepare the treatment plan without the close involvement of a doctor. While reaching that level may seem like a long way off for nurses just starting their training, they have already taken that first step that will see them play an ever-increasing role in the development of patient treatment plans.
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