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The concept of role transition is a shift in behaviors and views resulting from the expansion of requirements and professional responsibilities. According to Claywell (2014), such shift occurs due to a much broader range of qualities characteristic of the registered nurse. However, the concept is also influenced by the expectations projected by the environment and is not limited to the professional sphere. On certain occasions, peers (e.g. family and friends) may display certain expectations formed either by individual traits of the student undergoing the transition or by the cultural and social portrayal of the nursing profession. In addition, the individual may experience some difficulties and inconsistencies while learning new and adjusting existing nursing traits and skills. These factors may lead to role conflict and further complicate the transition process. Thus, it can be said that proper understanding of the concept is necessary for overcoming confusion and lack of clear goals associated with the described conflict.
Inherent Role Elements
The most well-known and widely recognized element of a registered nurse is that of a care provider. It is best described as a set of activities aimed at ensuring the most favorable health outcome for patients. While traditionally associated primarily with monitoring of patient health status and conducting nursing interventions aimed at patient improvement, this element also includes promotion of health maintenance among patients, the involvement of family members, health plan creation, and a wide range of assisting activities for ensuring favorable patient outcome as a mutual goal. Counselor is another role element that is important for enhancing care. Detecting abnormalities and deviations in patients’ states and addressing them to improve psychological climate can establish a reliable communication channel between them and a registered nurse and, by extension, improve the reliability of the health screening process as well as gain trust from patients. Effective care providing also requires educating the patients on the effects of different medications and treatments, thereby outlining the educator element. In addition, managing health plans for groups of patients, families, and communities is necessary for a systematic approach to healthcare, creating the need for a manager element.
Differences in Roles, Responsibilities, and Scope
At a glance, the roles of practical and registered nurses are similar since both have care provider elements at their cores. However, registered nurses have a broader scope of responsibilities and more elements inherent in their practice. For instance, health monitoring is essential for the timely detection of abnormalities in patient conditions. From the practical nurse’s standpoint, monitoring is limited to observing vital signs, detecting deviations from the norm, and reporting them to a clinician. A registered nurse, on the other hand, is also expected to be able of making decisions relevant to the obtained information and taking necessary actions. Other differences include technical restrictions (e.g. the administration of intravenous therapy) and a broader range of legal and administrative requirements (Claywell, 2014).
Differences in Education
Two major differences exist between the education of practical and registered nurses. First, education programs for RNs rely more on critical thinking skills than on knowledge base buildup. Registered nurses are expected to identify the causes and rationale behind decisions and, because of this, need to be taught the fundamentals of assessment and analytical tools to foster critical thinking. Second, RN education programs provide advanced knowledge of PN nursing subjects and include technical details relevant to new responsibilities (e.g. central line placement and IV insertion) (Wallace, n.d.).
The concept of RN role transition, its differences from other roles, and critical elements will help me get a clearer picture of the oncoming course. Therefore, I’d like to see better coverage of possible barriers and transition conflicts to avoid them. So far, I’ve implemented scanning and skimming strategies to be able to process larger volumes of information during the course.
Claywell, L. (2014). LPN to RN transitions. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier Health Sciences.
Wallace, B. (n.d.). LPN to RN programs. Web.