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Professional Discourses in the Nursing Career

Info: 1733 words (7 pages) Nursing Essay
Published: 11th Feb 2020

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Discourses Communication Terminology


There are discourses in the nursing career that one must possess in his or her nursing ability. These discourses include communication, medical terminology, patient care, patient confidentiality, and proper hygiene. The listed discourses are only a broad spectrum of the skills needed in the nursing profession. One has to be a committed individual who wants to help people. He or she cannot just go through the motions and expect to keep a job, which is why the discourses of the nursing profession are crucial to know.

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Professional Discourses in the Nursing Career


Once a person becomes adapted to his or her own professional community, he or she has become involved, learned the language, practiced the proper mannerisms, and developed a familiarity with the surroundings. In the profession of nursing, a person must learn all this and more. He or she should become familiar with the medical terminology, recognize the required hygiene, and know how to care for patients in a respectable and caring way. Discourse is important in every aspect of life, but when it comes to the profession of nursing, knowing the discourse is key for success.

Types of Discourse


The most important discourse in the profession of nursing is communication. It is crucial to be able to communicate properly with doctors as well as other nurses; it could be the difference between life and death. A way doctors and nurses communicate with each other is through documenting patient information. A nurse must always remember to read as well as document patient information with every visit.

Within an article out of the Journal of Advanced Nursing, 15-20% of the time working as a nurse is spent documenting patient information (Butler, Hyde, Irving, MacNeela, Scott, Treacy, 2006). Not only is it important to communicate through patient information, but it is also essential that a nurse understands the terminology used in patient documents.

Medical Terminology

The second most important discourse in the nursing profession is being able to understand the terminology that is used between the medical staff. Not only the ability to understand, but to also be able to pronounce the complicated words that can be used is also very important. The word hepatocholangitis can be a very difficult word to say and to understand. A strategy a nurse would use to recognize what the word means is to break apart the word into word roots and suffixes.

A word root gives the fundamental meaning of the word and a suffix modifies its meaning (Brooks, 2005). The word contains two word roots, which are hepat (liver) and cholang (bile duct). The “o” between the two word roots is called a combining vowel and is used to ease pronunciation (Brooks, 2005). Lastly, the suffix is itis (inflammation). When starting with the suffix, the term hepatocholangitis is defined as an inflammation of both the liver and the bile ducts (Mosby’s Dictionary, 2006).

In order for a nurse to distinguish between what the words are as well as their meanings is to understand the meanings behind the words that are used within the medical language. If the terminology used within the medical field is understood completely, then it is easier to communicate with other medical staff and more importantly, the patients.

Patient Care

How to talk to patients as well as helping patients understand how to comprehend what may be wrong with them is important in the medical field. Doctors tend to give the specific terminology that many patients do not understand, whereas nurses are the ones who explain what the doctor has said in simpler terms. Another discourse that can be included in the nursing profession is the ability to communicate with patients directly and to comfort patients as well as their family and friends.

Nurses must be alert and quick to respond because they are usually the first people in a patient’s room. According to Tarlier (2004), building responsive relationships with patients will gain the respect, trust and mutuality from the patient. This can provide the framework of caring relationships between nurses and patients. If a nurse is alert and able to communicate with patients on a level that they understand, then that nurse has become more than just a nurse; he or she has become a person with morals.

Tarlier states “for each one to take on the needs, wishes, desires of others and make them into his goal is the beginning of ethical” (p. 233). To be able to put aside the needs or wants of oneself can be a hard thing to do for some people. To be a nurse, a person has to be willing to care for a patient not to follow the rules, but by explaining things, making small talk with them, being responsive, and to be their friend.

The kind of trust a patient has towards a nurse can alter that patient’s attitude towards that hospital, which is why gaining the trust of patients is key. It all starts with patient confidentiality and if patients can actually trust the hospital with their most personal information, they will have more confidence in their nurses as well as their doctors.

Patient Confidentiality

A nurse has to make sure that patient documents do not fall into the wrong hands. The misplacement of one chart could cost not only the trust of the patient and the patient’s family, but the hospital’s reputation as well as thousands of dollars. There are certain regulations that control what can be shared outside of the patient’s room. A person must value the desires of patients who do not want certain information shared unless it is information that would put others at risk of serious harm or death (Beech, 2007).

Patient confidentiality is an important discourse in the profession of nursing because of the personal information that is shared between a patient and his or her nurse. Patient confidentiality is important in all health care facilities and a nurse should know the proper ways in how everything is documented as well as who is authorized to view those documents. Not only should a nurse know the appropriate ways of where to put documented information, but a nurse should also be familiar with the hygiene required in heath care facilities.

Proper Hygiene

Hospital acquired infections are some of the leading causes of illnesses in today’s world. It is important to know the proper hygiene in caring for patients. Bacteria such as Staphylococcal aureus, commonly known as Staph infections, can by transmitted very easily from direct contact. Staph infections are becoming increasingly resistant to antibiotics. A new known “super bug”, called MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureaus), has been known to take more American lives each year than the AIDS virus; that is 19,000 people each year (Bloice, Hallinan, 2007).

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The most important aspect when it comes to proper hygiene is hand washing. It is crucial for nurses to wash their hands each time they enter and exit a patient’s room. Hand washing is the best habit a nurse can get into. It is one of the many helpful routines in preventing the spread of MRSA (McDonnell, 2007). There are also many other helpful ideas when it comes to the prevention of spreading infection. These ideas need to be known by nurses everywhere no matter if they are working in a hospital, nursing home, or even in schools.



In an interview with a registered nurse, Jacklyn Brambrink was able to give some useful information about what she thinks is the most important discourse out of the ones that have been discussed. She believes that communication is the most important because in order to do anything in the nursing career, a person has to be able to communicate with the staff as well as the patients no matter what.

She also believes that a nurse must be able to prioritize as well as be able to make judgment calls when it comes to tough situations (personal communication, February 13, 2008). There are everyday jobs a nurse has to know how to do. When Jaclyn made the point about prioritizing, she really stressed the idea. It is key for a nurse to know when a job needs to be done and when a different job is not as critical. Just like communication, it could be the difference between life and death.


There is much more to the profession of nursing than to just be able to communicate, know the terminology, and know the proper ways in preventing the spread of infection. The discourses that have been listed are the basis of being successful in the profession of nursing, but there is much more to know. Just knowing these discourses is not going to help a person get through nursing school. A nurse has to be dedicated and has to be willing to learn new things.

New discoveries are being found almost every day in the medical field and a nurse has to be eager to want to continue his or her education throughout his or her entire nursing career. A nursing student should be aware of all this information and more, so they know what to expect. By going through the motions will not work in the nursing profession. If a committed, caring and knowledgeable individual wants to enter the nursing field, he or she has to be prepared for all of the challenges that medical professionals face every day. Once that person is ready and aware of those challenges, he or she will make a great nurse.


Beech M. Confidentiality in heath care: conflicting legal and ethical issues. Nursing Standard. 2007;21:42-46.

Bloice C, Hallinan C. The Return of Germ Welfare. Registered Nurse. 2007;103(9):12-13.

Brooks ML. Exploring Meidcal Language. 6th ed. St. Louis, MO: Mosby; 2005.

Butler M, Irving K, Hyde A, MacNeela P, Scott A, Treacy M. Discursive practices in the documentation of patient assessments. Journal of Advanced Nursing. 2006;53(2): 151-159.

McDonnell P. Don’t forget to wash your hands. Ophthalmology Times. September 15, 2007;32(18):4.


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