Shadowing a Doctor

February 17, 2015

Gap Medics students on placementIf you are exploring your options in nursing, here’s a look at two little known specialisations that you can consider – neurological nursing and getting chemical dependency programmes.

Neurological Nursing

Neurology focuses on the treatment of disorders of the nervous system. This consists of two major sub-categories – (1) The central nervous system, which consists of the brain and spinal cord and (2) The peripheral nervous system, which includes all other neural elements such as the skin, eyes, ears and other sensory receptors.

Nurses who work in the neurological department of a hospital or institution work with patients who suffer from disorders that affect the brain, spine and nerves. This includes:

  • Spinal cord disorders
  • Cerebro-vascular diseases such as strokes
  • Headache disorders
  • Neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and Lou Gehrig’s disease
  • Movement disorders
  • Central nervous system disorders such as Multiple Sclerosis
  • Seizure disorders

This is a highly advanced and challenging nursing specialty. As a neurological nurse you will have to be highly proficient with the identification, assessment and management of several neurological disorders ranging from headaches, trauma, stroke and seizures to brain injuries, infections, tumors and aneurysms. Neurological nurses usually work in a hospital, where they administer medications and care for patients before and after their procedures or during their outpatient treatment. Continued education is essential for neurological nurses because of the importance of staying abreast of latest developments.

Getting Involved In Chemical Dependency Programmes

Students all ready for a day on the hospital wards!If you are exploring your options in psychiatric nursing, one of the specialties you can consider is that of chemical dependency/substance abuse nursing. Chemical Dependency Programs are dedicated to helping with people who suffer from some kind of substance abuse or mental problem. The field of chemical dependency falls under psychiatric nursing. Psychiatric nurses who are considering this field should have a specialty in chemical dependency and substance abuse. In addition to having the academic qualifications for the job, it is also extremely important to possess certain personality traits if you want to truly make a difference to those suffering from substance abuse. You need to be patient and understanding, non-judgemental, a good communicator and highly empathetic. The ability to work well is a team is also important as very often patients suffering from substance abuse are deprived of their everyday necessities and need multi-disciplinary treatment to heal fully. To ensure that your patients get the help they need, you will often have to collaborate with professionals from other disciplines. Maintaining a high level of confidentiality is another vital requirement of the job.

As a nurse working with chemical dependent patients, some of your tasks will include:

  • Interacting with clients on a regular basis
  • Taking the role of an abuse counsellor
  • Talking to the patient’s family and forming family support groups
  • Acting as the patient’s advocate in order to get them the best treatment possible
  • Designing appropriate treatment and care programs for the patients
  • Visiting substance users as an outreach initiative and giving them temporary accommodation and necessities when needed
  • Helping clients search for jobs, accommodation and other basic amenities
  • Rehabilitating and counselling clients
  • Administering regular medication and treatment plans

Chemical dependency nurses work in hospitals, health care facilities and dependency treatment centres as well as in prisons.