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What Is the Office Nursing Job Description?

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Question:
I would like to be a nurse and I want to know what a nursing job description is for someone who works in a doctor's office or clinic. I'm not interested in working in a hospital. Also, do I have to have an RN to do this or can I have an LPN? What is the salary? Thanks, Amanda

Answer:
Dear Amanda,

Thanks for your questions and let's see if we can answer them for you.

Doctors' offices and clinics often need people with a nursing license in order to run their offices smoothly and provide good patient care. They may also hire medical assistants, but nursing jobs usually entail more responsibility.

You mention that you don't want to do hospital nursing, but you will need to do so as part of your clinical experience while you are in nursing school. Regardless of which type of nursing degree program you are, all nursing schools require hands-on experience.

Becoming a nurse in a doctor's office

The nursing job description in a doctor's office will vary widely, depending on the doctor's specialty, how many doctors are in the office, and how many other health care professionals work there.

There are generally no specific types of programs for nurses to follow to become a nurse in a doctor's office, but the more you know about how offices run, the better it is to be hired. For example, besides nursing, it helps if you already know:

- Coding for insurance purposes
- Billing
- Staffing
- Office management
- Computer skills

Office nursing job description

As mentioned above, what nurses do in an office changes from office to office. Generally, however, nurses may do the following:

- Rooming the patients (calling them from the waiting room and bringing them to the examination room)
- Taking patient histories
- Taking blood and doing other lab tests
- Taking EKGs (electrocardiograms)
- Taking vital signs
- Organizing and setting up charts
- Charting
- Changing dressings and performing ordered treatments
- Counseling
- Patient teaching
- Triage (decide which walk-in patients need to be seen urgently)
- Telephone triage (handling calls from patients who aren't sure if they should come in)
- Phone calls to pharmacists for medication refills
- Phone calls with other health care professionals, such as physiotherapists
- Arranging consults and outside tests, such as x-rays

Although this list may seem long, this is only an example of what nurses in a doctor's office may be expected to do.

RN or LPN

Both RNs and LPNs are able to work in doctors' offices, but what type of nurse the doctors hire depends on what type of work they want done and how much money they have to pay. The nurses do need an up-to-date nursing license.

Traditionally, a nursing salary in doctors' offices is lower than that of surrounding hospitals and other facilities. However, many office nurses are willing to take the lower salary in exchange for regular working hours (most likely Monday to Friday) and a regular routine.

Clinics and larger doctor practices that are open beyond Monday to Friday may offer a higher nursing salary, but again this depends on many issues.

While some nurses do go work for doctors right out of nursing school, many doctors prefer nurses who have worked in the hospital system first, giving them nursing experience that is hard to pick up in an office environment.

Good luck in what you decide to do. Becoming a nurse is a smart thing to do if that interests you because the demand for nurses will continue to grow, whether the work is in a hospital or a doctor's office.

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