Do You Know These Things That Nurses Should Know?

Marie Hullett

Image: The Good Brigade / DigitalVision / Getty IMages

About This Quiz

Being a nurse is notoriously challenging work. Nurses must be by patients' sides during the most vulnerable and tragic of circumstances, all while remaining impeccably organized and on-the-ball. When they're not giving immunizations or assisting with medication management, they serve as confidants, friends, and pillars of strength for their patients. Since they can rarely catch a break to sit down, you can typically find them on their feet and on a mission. 

Before they can officially slip into their scrubs, though, nurses must complete at least four years of preparation at a college or university, including hours and hours of on-site, clinical training. Of course, there's also all the studying and test taking. In particular, nurses must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN).  

Whether they're wheeling patients around or racing to administer emergency treatment, they are true saviors in a variety of healthcare settings. If you have dreams of becoming a registered nurse, find out if you have what it takes by taking the following quiz. This test asks a few vital questions that every nurse should know. 

Which medical instrument should a nurse typically use for auscultation?

Auscultation refers to the act of listening to the heart, lungs, or another organ in the body. Most of the time, the medical professional will use a stethoscope to listen to the organ.

In a patient's notes that the doctor left the nurse, it says "AC" next to the medication instructions. What does this mean?

AC stands for "ante cibum," which translates roughly to "before the food" in Latin. Many medications should not be taken on a full stomach, which makes "AC" a common note on prescriptions.

What is the sensory membrane at the back of the eyeball called?

The retina is the layer at the back of the eye that contains light-sensitive cells. These cells trigger nerve impulses to the brain, which, in turn, form an image. Wow!

What do you call the instrument used to measure blood pressure?

For possessing such a long name, the sphygmomanometer is a very common and recognizable tool in healthcare settings. Connected to a mercury tube, the device's rubber cuff slips around the patient's arm and measures systolic and diastolic blood pressure with a graduated scale.

The doctor wrote a note to administer the patient 5 gtt. of medication. What does gtt. mean?

A microdrop is a very, very small droplet of medication: about .1 to .01 of a drop. This will typically be abbreviated as gtt., which stems from the Latin word "guttae," or drop. There are roughly 60 microdrops in 1 mL of medication.

What does it mean if a medication is emetogenic?

Anticancer treatments, amorphine, and opioid-based pain medications are often considered emetogenic, which means they may induce nausea and vomiting. The benefits of these treatments are considered to outweigh the side effects.

You need to ensure the patient remains on his back, with knees bent, and feet flat on the examining table. What do you call this position?

The dorsal recumbent position offers the medical professional optimal access to observing the head, neck, throat, abdomen, and other parts of the body. It may be used in situations ranging from giving birth to abdominal surgery to IV lines.

To what does the lumbar part of the body refer?

Stemming from the Latin word for loin, lumbar refers to the lower part of the spine or the area of the body between the lower ribs and pelvis. The five lumbar vertebrae in the spine are particularly strong and mobile.

The doctor requests that the nurse perform a subcutaneous injection. What does this mean?

A subcutaneous injection involves administering medication between the skin and the muscle with a short needle. It's much easier than an intravenous injection, which involves inserting the medication directly into the vein with an IV catheter.

Which of these symptoms often occur as a result of peripheral neuropathy?

Peripheral neuropathy often causes numbness, weakness, and pain in the body, especially the hands and feet. It is often caused by diabetes, traumatic injuries, inherited conditions, infections, and toxin exposure.

A patient's chart reads "400 mg of ibuprofen PRN." What does that mean?

PRN is an abbreviation of the Latin phrase "pro re nata," which essentially translates to "as needed." If you see this on a patient's chart, it means "as needed" or "when necessary."

You take a patient's temperature. What reading is considered within the normal range?

While average human body temperature is about 98.6°F, many medical experts agree that a relatively normal temperature may lie anywhere from 97°F to 99°F. A reading over 100.4°F typically signals the presence of a fever.

If a patient is lying in bed at a 45-degree angle, what is this position called?

Every nurse knows the importance of positioning a patient in bed properly. The right position can help prevent pressure ulcers, contractures, other issues. Fowler's position is a common way to promote patient comfort and ease of care.

Speaking of contractures, what does this condition entail?

Contractures often occur due to one's inability to move a certain area of the body, which can lead to deformity. While physical inactivity is the most common cause of contractures, conditions like osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis can also lead to the condition.

A patient has an acute condition. What does this mean?

Acute conditions may consist of anything from broken bones to strep throat, and often refers to those which require urgent care. These conditions are short-term in nature in contrast with chronic conditions, which are long-lasting.

One of your patients has aphasia, which means they're struggling to do what?

Aphasia is a communication disorder that inhibits someone's ability to speak properly or process what others are saying. This often occurs due to head trauma or a stroke. Although it significantly impacts language ability, it does not impact one's mental intelligence.

Red blood cells ___________, while white blood cells ____________.

Red blood cells transport respiratory gases, which include oxygen and carbon dioxide. Meanwhile, white blood cells help combat foreign organisms and fend off infection. Have you thanked your blood cells today?

Human skin color is determined by the level of _________ produced in the body?

Melanin refers to the brown to black pigment that occurs in the skin, hair, and eyes of mammals. In general, those with more melanin possess a lower risk of skin cancer.

Which chamber in the heart receives deoxygenated blood from systemic circulation?

The right atrium of the heart receives deoxygenated blood through circulation; afterward, it sends the blood to the lungs to obtain oxygen. Next, the left atrium receives oxygenated blood from the lungs before sending it to the aorta.

What do neonatal nurses do?

Neonatal nurses specialize in the care of newborns, particularly those born prematurely or with conditions like birth defects, infection, and cardiac malformations. These nurses generally care for the babies from the time of birth until their discharge.

Thump, thump, thump. How many chambers are there in the heart?

The heart contains two atria and two ventricles. The right atrium receives deoxygenated blood from the body, which it then transports to the right ventricle. Then, the right ventricle pumps it to the lungs. Finally, the left atrium receives it from the lungs and transports it to the left ventricle.

Which hormone is produced during pregnancy?

Human chorionic gonadotropin is the hormone that produces positive pregnancy test results, since it is the only hormone produced solely by pregnancy. It is produced from the developing placenta.

"Check his vitals...stat!" What does the doctor mean by this?

Stat stems from the Latin word statim, which means "immediately" or "instantly." You will typically hear a medical professional shout this out during emergency situations, when there is simply no time to spare.

On the same note, what does "vitals" mean? What does the doctor want you to check?

Often abbreviated as BT, BP, HR, and RR, checking the four core vital signs means assessing a patient's body temperature, blood pressure, heart rate, and respiratory rate. While "normal" ranges vary for each individual, medical professionals can learn a lot about a person's state through these diagnostic tests.

As a nurse, you must make an instructive list for an elderly adult who needs to learn self-catheterization. What must you keep in mind?

Nurses are expected to write instructions as simply and concisely as possible for elderly patients. They should avoid using medical jargon and write at a fifth grade reading level.

A medical professional is helping an emphysema patient learn pursed-lip breathing. Why?

Pursed-lip breathing is a tactic designed to improve air ventilation by keeping small airways in the lungs open. While emphysema causes shortness of breath, this method can help combat it through controlled movements.

How can a nurse help a hospitalized 15-year-old, according to Erikson's stages of psychosocial development?

From ages about 12 to 18, adolescents develop a sense of independence and self. Their social relationships with their peers are particularly important and visits from them should be encouraged in order to promote healthy development.

What should diabetic patients always make sure to do?

Since diabetics possess a heightened risk of fungal infections, they must dry their feet thoroughly after each shower. They should also inspect their feet daily to ensure there are no signs of cuts, injury, or infection.

School-age children generally have a lower ____________ than toddlers and teens.

School-age children between ages 6 and 12 possess a lower metabolic rate than toddlers or adolescents, who grow more rapidly. While school-age children are definitely still growing, they only need to consume what's necessary to sustain their growth.

As vision worsens with age, an elderly patient's ability to discern colors may change. What colors are most difficult for elderly people to distinguish?

With age, the lens of the eye may yellow, which can make it harder to discern the colors blue and green. In addition, colors with shorter wavelength (including blue and green) are generally more challenging to distinguish than colors like red and orange.

A child with cystic fibrosis should consume what kind of diet?

Children with cystic fibrosis, a condition characterized by an ongoing infection of the lungs, need a high calorie, high protein diet in order to maintain a healthy weight. The doctor might also suggest pancreatic enzyme replacement or supplemental feedings.

The doctor instructs a patient trying to get pregnant to increase folic acid intake. Of which food should you suggest the patient eat more?

Leafy vegetables and greens, like spinach, kale, and broccoli, are excellent sources of folic acid. Consuming adequate levels of folic acid can help prevent neural tube defects during pregnancy.

What is a mark of normal, healthy development in a 2-year-old?

By about 2 years of age, toddlers should be able to use a cup, even if they spill a little. They should also be able to use a spoon. If a nurse notices that the child cannot, further assessment is necessary.

A 16-year-old girl and her mother are in the examination room for a check-up. What should the nurse do before asking questions about the teenager's sexual history?

All patients deserve confidentiality and privacy, including adolescents. To establish a trusting relationship, the nurse should request that the parent leave the room before asking questions about health history. The nurse should also inform that patient that her responses are completely confidential.

When should children be screened for scoliosis?

Scoliosis is a condition that refers to a lateral spinal curvature. Since it tends to develop over time, children should be screened between ages 9 and 15. School-age girls are particularly at risk of developing scoliosis.

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