A pain management nurse provides care to individuals with varying levels of pain. The nurse may be assigned to work with individuals admitted to a hospital, or he or she may provide patient care on an outpatient basis. To become a pain management nurse, the person will need to enroll and graduate from an accredited nursing program. In order to practice nursing, he or she will also need to obtain a nursing license. Different regions have different requirements for acquiring this position.
The tasks of a pain management nurse can be numerous. In a hospital setting, the nurse will generally spend his or her days assessing pain and treating pain in patients. To access pain, the nurse may have a list of standard questions to ask the patient. Many medical facilities use a numbered scale to gauge the level of pain. The nurse may also perform a physical examination to test the sensitivity of the patient.
Nurses will also administer pain medications to treat pain. Although, the doctors generally prescribe the medicines, it is usually the nurse who administers it. As a pain management nurse, he or she will receive advanced training in pharmacology. For this reason, the nurse will be well versed on many types of medications. Most nurses will also be required to be very knowledgeable of the patient's medical records as well. This commonly includes the history of medicines previously taken, those taken currently and allergic reactions caused by any of the above.
Once the medication is administered, a pain management nurse will be responsible for monitoring pain. Usually, the nurse will check in on the patient at different intervals to look for any allergic reaction and to take his or her vital signs to see if the medication has caused a change in the patient's blood pressure, heart rate or oxygen level. The nurse may also continue to question the patient to see if the medicine has helped to relieve the pain. If the pain continues even after being medicated, this type of nurse is trained to provide additional measures to relieve pain. This may include increasing the dosage of medicine or trying an alternative medication, with the doctor's approval.
In an outpatient setting, a pain management nurse will provide patient education to instruct the patient on the proper ways to use medications safely at home. Outpatient care by this type of nurse may be provided to patients who have just had surgery or to individuals with chronic ongoing illnesses. In addition to educating the patient on his or her medicine and the proper way to take it, the nurse may also address the effectiveness of the drug. A nurse specializing in pain medication may work in a hospital, nursing home, outpatient clinic or as a self-employed individual.