10 Important Things that Practical Nurses Know | Harris Casel Institute Melbourne FL
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10 Important Things that Practical Nurses Know

practical nursing as a career, nurses hatPractical nursing is a job that many people find rewarding

Practical nursing—like all jobs in the field of nursing—is an honorable profession. It is a job that requires patience, compassion, and caring for others. At the Harris Casel Institute, we are proud of the students in our Practical Nursing program and invite other adults in the Melbourne/Brevard County region to explore the career training that we offer.

Practical nurses are trained in a wide variety of areas and have a range of marketable clinical skills. Here are just a few of the important things that practical nurses know.

1. How to keep cool

A day in the life of a practical nurse can be stressful. Patients’ medical needs and requests do not follow a predictable schedule. Emergencies and other medical issues can arise at a moment’s notice, and practical nurse needs to be able to handle unexpected situations calmly.

2. How to be there for their patients

In addition to needing a doctor’s services, many patients also need the day-to-day services of a practical nurse. Practical nurses learn the proper techniques for checking vital signs, caring for patients’ basic needs such as bathing and eating, helping patients with ambulation, and bed-making skills.

3. How to prevent infections

Hospitals have to be very careful when it comes to the spreading of infections. That is why practical nurses are highly trained in infection control and prevention. They learn about blood borne diseases and other infectious diseases, as well as the protocols for preventing infections, such as proper hand-washing, proper glove procedures, how to dispose of potentially infectious items, and other infection prevention measures. 

4. What your body is all about

As part of their training, practical nurses have to take courses in anatomy and physiology, so that they understand the normal structure and function of the human body. They know how the body systems work, including the respiratory, muscular-skeletal, cardio-vascular, nervous, skin, and sensory systems.

5. What you should eat

Practical nurses study nutrition during their training, and learn about the nutritional needs throughout the human life span. They know how these nutrients impact your health and wellness.

6. How to provide care for seniors

One of the main patient groups that practical nurses care for is the elderly. For this reason, most practical nursing training programs include courses that are specialized in geriatric care. Students learn about the aging process, common illnesses, and patients with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Practical nurses also learn to work with other special patient populations, such as patients who are chronically ill, patients with cancer, pregnant patients, new moms, babies, patients recovering from surgery, and patients with psychological disorders.

7. How to handle patients’ medications

Practical nurses will need to understand the medications that their patients are prescribed. They study commonly-prescribed medications and their action, dosage, and side effects. Students learn to administer medications safely.

8. What is ethical in the healthcare industry

Practical nurses are taught about legal and ethical issues in the field of nursing, including patient privacy and HIPAA. Practical nurses learn about ethical issues such as: Is it always best to tell a patient everything about their condition, if it is going to cause more emotional distress? How much freedom do you allow the patient in making their own decisions, such as a patient who does not want to eat his meal or does not want to take her pain medicine? Questions like these are good for understanding the ethical issues that practical nurses can face.

9. How to show compassion

Because many practical nurses work in long-term care or nursing homes, they see patients who are at very vulnerable times in their lives. They may be chronically ill and in need of a high level of care. They may be very old, and in need of care for dementia or other neurological disorders. These are people who need our greatest compassion and patience, and practical nurses are known for these generous qualities.

10. How to read their patients

Practical nurses spend a lot of time with their patients, and tend to get to know them more than their doctors or RNs know them. As a result, practical nurses get very good at knowing what their patients need—sometimes even before the patient knows!


The Practical Nursing program at the Harris Casel Institute is aligned with the standards set by the Florida Board of Nursing. Located in Melbourne, Florida, our school offers eight career training programs for healthcare careers. If you are interested in learning more about becoming a practical nurse, contact us at your convenience. We hope your new career will start with us!