What Is a Typical Workday For a Nurse?

 According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a nurse is often responsible for assisting physicians in administering patient care, providing advice and educating patients on a variety of medical conditions, and giving advice to the patient as well as their family. However, that is only a vague overview of all of the intricate tasks and duties that go into nursing. A nurse workday varies from facility to facility, but in general, many of the same traits are shared.

Annette Staack shares a detailed description of what she encounters on each work day in her life as a nurse.

Morning Hours

When a nurse first arrives at work, one of their first responsibilities is to either speak with the previous night nurse or review outpatient records to get an idea of which and how many patients they’ll be dealing with. Once this has been completed, other preparations are made which include looking over patient tests that will be administered throughout that day, coordinating schedules with doctors, and checking email.

Once all of this has been completed, premed orders are faxed, and any testing equipment needed for early morning patients is set up. Additionally, if testing equipment is required to be set up, a call is usually made to them to confirm that they will be on time.

As time goes on, patients are seen and helped by the nurse, and vitals are taken for all of them. A computer is used to chart patient data, and the nurse works alongside the doctor to administer any testing and assist in whichever way the particular situation calls for.

Emergencies come up throughout the day that may prevent other, less critical appointments and testing from taking place on time.

Mid Day

Roughly around the point of mid day, lunch is eaten. However, this could be interrupted at any time by a medical emergency that needs immediate attention. A day in the life of a nurse can be hectic, and any nurse will tell you that no two days are alike. Whenever the emergency subsides, the nurse goes back to quickly consume the rest of their lunch with what little time they have left.


As time creeps into the afternoon, more patients are seen and dealt with. In some cases, non-English-speaking patients will bring along translators to help the communication process along.

Once the nurse gets a chance to breathe between patient emergencies, appointments, testing, and scheduling, he/she can return to their office to catch up on less critical matters, such as emails.

The nurse continues to see patients and check on ICU procedures by reviewing charts and collecting data. Many nurses are in charge of collecting and recording data on surgery patients. Amidst doing this, a nurse might continue to check and respond to emails and review the schedule for the following day.

Lastly, at the end of the day, the nurse leaves almost entirely depleted of energy. However, they are also filled with a sense of fulfillment for making such a difference in the lives of their patients. The nurse plans to go home and take care of personal matters, and he/she is usually in bed by around nine or ten to ensure there’s enough rest and recharging for the next action-packed day!

Take a look at “Nurses: How do they do it?” for more information.