A Day in the Life of a Hospital Nurse

The nursing profession is nearly as old as medicine itself. And if there’s one thing that 2020 has taught us, it’s that nurses are needed now more than ever. While nurses can work in a wide variety of settings, serving as a hospital nurse is one of the most common and noble nursing options out there. So, what does a typical day in the life of a hospital nurse look like?


5:00 a.m. – Getting Started

Most of the time, a day-shift hospital nurse is up before the sun. They’ll be out of bed, showered, and heading out the door before many other professionals have woken up.

7:00 a.m. – Take Over for Night Shift

In most hospitals, the incoming day-shift nurses will be briefed by the outgoing night-shift nurses. This way, the incoming nurses are aware of any changes in patients’ status, newly admitted patients, or anything else important that they should know. Nurses starting their shift will review patient records, consult with physicians, and do whatever else they need to do to be prepared for caring for the day’s patients.

8:00 a.m. – Do the Morning Rounds

The workday starts with the morning rounds. This consists of checking in with each patient under their care and assisting patients with the Activities of Daily Living, or ADLs. Nurses might help patients eat their breakfast, get up to go to the bathroom, take a walk around the floor or outside, take their medication, etc.

1:00 p.m. – Afternoon Rounds

Sometime after lunch, a hospital nurse will start their afternoon rounds. By this point in the day, new patients may have arrived, and patients that the nurse was caring for that morning could have already been discharged. During the afternoon shift, a nurse might be admitting a new patient, explaining a diagnosis or medication regimen, talking to family members to help them understand the patient’s condition, and catching up on patient charts.

5:00 – 6:00 p.m. – Prepare for Night Shift

As the end of the day nears, a day-shift nurse will do the same thing for the incoming night shift that was done at the beginning of the day: prepare the incoming shift with everything they need to know. After a final check-in with patients, the nurse will sign off and head home for a well-deserved rest.

Keep in mind that for a nurse, no two days are ever quite the same. The above description is only a basic formula for a typical day — one of the exciting things about being a hospital nurse is that you’ll always be kept on your toes!


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