What Are a Registered Nurse Responsibilities?

A registered nurse’s responsibilities vary depending on their specialization and employer.

For instance, hospital nurses manage multiple patients, administer medications, and assist specialists with specific tasks.

They also record and update patient records, monitor medical equipment, and record accurate tools and medication logs.

That said, a registered nurse’s duties change depending on their specialty.

The following section explores the responsibilities of registered nurses in different domains.

Hospital Registered Nurses

Registered nurses in hospitals or healthcare facilities provide patients with direct medical support and emotional care.

These specialists educate patients about their injuries or illnesses and help them recover from their ailments.

Registered nurses will provide healthcare information and answer questions about their condition/disease.

They’ll also manage technical tasks like monitoring vitals, updating charts, administering medication, and helping with rehabilitation treatments.

Hospital Nurse Responsibilities:

  • Assess and prioritize patient care
  • Administer treatment plans
  • Monitor medication intake and delivery
  • Assist with rehabilitation
  • Update medical records
  • Track the patient’s state of recovery
  • Coordinate care plans with hospital staff

And manage various other duties.

Registered nurses combine their efforts with other specialists by exchanging vital information and managing specific roles.

They promote healthy healing of the patient’s medical condition and hopefully bring the patient to optimal recovery.

As registered nurses gain experience, they may move into more specialized healthcare fields.

As a result, their job functions and duties could change dramatically over the years.

Legal Nurse Consultants

Legal nurse consultants (LNCs) provide attorneys and judges with medical expertise.

They assist legal professionals with legal-medical cases involving medical malpractice, insurance fraud, wrongful death, personal injury claims, criminal defense cases, and other matters.

These nurses use their expertise to assist attorneys in determining whether a claim is legitimate.

In cases where a plaintiff’s case is legitimate, they determine the cause and extent of the injury or claim.

They also help attorneys obtain and maintain legal documents and patient medical records.

LNCs will research the plaintiff’s medical history and help the attorney understand complex medical terms.

It enables them to provide the judge/jury with a better understanding of the situation.

Finally, they may act as expert witnesses and explain their findings, thoughts, and opinions to the judge.

LNC Responsibilities:

  • Screen and research cases
  • Review, assess, and organize case/medical records
  • Research legal-medical matters to present to attorneys
  • Provide written assessments based on findings and evidence
  • Consult and contribute personal opinions
  • Participate in client interviews
  • Determine a cases merit/validity
  • Simplify complex medical terminology
  • Find expert witnesses

Forensic Nurses

Forensic nurses often work at a hospital or a crime scene.

They use their medical knowledge to determine what led to an individual’s injury or death.

Forensic nurses inspect the patient’s/victim’s body and perform tests to determine the injuries in abuse cases.

They’ll also determine how the injuries occurred and the extent of them.

Sometimes, patients may be afraid to admit abuse or have no recollection of an event. (being abused while unconscious),

Forensic nurses will communicate with patients and provide emotional support to comfort them.

These specialists look for verbal and non-verbal cues to determine what transpires when a patient is afraid to talk.

Forensic nurses may work with forensic teams and law enforcement in death cases.

They help these specialists to specify the cause of death and decide if it was natural causes, drugs, injuries, or an accident.

Forensic Nurse Responsibilities:

  • Provide emotional support to patients/families
  • Perform examinations/tests
  • Answer medical/health questions
  • Provide advice and consultation
  • Respond to crime scenes
  • Perform death investigations
  • Solve crimes
  • Work alongside law enforcement
  • Consult on medical-legal cases
  • Provide mental health services

Psychiatric Mental Health Nurses

Psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners provide specialized care to patients with various mental conditions.

It includes illnesses/diseases, disorders, trauma, and mental/emotional anguish from stressful life events.

Some mental conditions include bipolar disorder, severe depression, dementia, psychosis, and schizophrenia.

They’ll also treat substance abuse, ADHD, PTSD, OCD, and postpartum depression patients.

Psychiatric nurse practitioners develop treatments to alleviate and lower mental illness stress and symptoms.

In some cases, they may prescribe medications to help treat patients with severe mental health conditions.

Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Duties:

  • Conduct mental health assessments
  • Perform physical health assessments
  • Review patient medical histories
  • Create treatment plans
  • Perform psychotherapy
  • Prescribe medications
  • Consult patients and their families
  • Research new practices, drugs, and treatment options

Research Nurses

Research nurses study and implement new medical discoveries to advance nursing and provide better medical care.

These specialists research new diseases, drugs, treatments, procedures, and medical devices.

It enables them to determine which ones to implement into practice to improve patient care and the healthcare system.

They also conduct clinical trials and educate patients about how treatments and procedures may affect them.

Research nurses work with different healthcare facilities to check for abnormalities in clinical trials.

It includes hospitals, medical universities, research facilities, pharmaceutical companies, and privately-owned companies.


The previously mentioned list of professions only covers a fraction of registered nursing jobs.

There are over one hundred disciplines dedicated to nurses who want to improve patient care and the healthcare system.

As a result, the responsibilities and duties of a registered nurse can vary greatly depending on their specialty area.

Ultimately, all fields of nursing focus on providing patients with proper medical care, treatments, and emotional support.

Registered nurses play a vital role in advancing the science of medicine and patient care.

Some nurses assist lawyers and law enforcement with cases requiring a medical specialist’s knowledge.

Other nurses focus on advocacy, education, and research.

A registered nurse’s responsibilities may change in different career settings.

However, the ultimate goal of nursing is to improve healthcare and provide everyone with a healthy, beneficial lifestyle!