The Changing Roles of Nurses

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Nurses in the operating room at Hahnemann Hospital, in Philadelphia. (Elana Gordon/WHYY File Photo)

Nurses in the operating room at Hahnemann Hospital, in Philadelphia. (Elana Gordon/WHYY File Photo)

The roles of nurses have changed and expanded a lot in recent decades. Nurses are highly specialized, they have branched out into new areas of medicine. Still, nurses remain on the front lines of patient care. They communicate with doctors, relay patient wishes, and address family concerns. On this episode, we look into how nursing is changing, and how that’s affecting patient care. We hear about nurses fighting for limits on how many patients they’re assigned; find out what it’s like to be a school nurse in the age of active shooter drills; and talk to nurses who are getting involved in climate change issues for the sake of their patients.

Also heard on this week’s episode:

  • Reporter Alan Yu explores how climate change is affecting public health — and what nurses are doing about it.
  • Sexual assault examinations are crucial for criminal prosecutions — but not all ER nurses know how to do them. Reporter Stephanie Marudas heads to one hospital in rural Pennsylvania that’s using technology to connect forensic nurses with expert practitioners who can walk them through the process.
  • Nursing historian Patricia D’Antonio of the University of Pennsylvania discusses nurses’ role in advocating for public health reforms and social change.
  • From RNs and LPNs, to NPs and DNPs, there’s a veritable alphabet soup of nursing specialties. We talk with a range of nurses to get a glimpse of what they do.

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