What is a Pain Management Nurse?

A pain management nurse usually works in a large hospital facility. They may be assigned to departments like radiology, gynecology, urology, orthopedic surgery and oncology. Regardless of the assigned division, pain management nurses will analyze assessment information to determine patient care priorities. They collaborate and coordinate patient care with interdisciplinary teams. Pain management nurses are often called into a hospital department to complete comprehensive patient assessments and develop individualized patient care plans.

Clinical Duties

Pain management nurses apply their practical, technical and specialized knowledge and experience to help patients manage temporary and chronic pain symptoms. They may provide consulting services in various departments, but they will always participate in pre- and post-surgery procedures. They help explain patient care, understand patient needs and meet regulatory standards of practice. Pain management nurses prepare patient care areas and ensure the availability of necessary pain management tools, supplies and equipment. They assess the patient’s level of fear, anxiety and discomfort in order to provide support for patients and their families. They use two to three patient identifiers to verify the patients’ identify prior to all medications and interventions. Pain management nurses conduct complete patient evaluations prior to procedures. This means that they review history, which includes a list of current medications and recent interventions, and take vitals, which includes psychological and anthropometric data.

Clinical Duties Continued

Pain management nurses make sure all necessary data is shared with the entire patient care team prior to beginning procedures and conduct a post-procedure debriefing meeting. Pain management nurses must always demonstrate safe medication practices by properly reviewing, transcribing and administering prescriptions. They have special training in order to properly prepare and administer special medications such as pre-op antibiotics. They know how to prepare medication labels, identify high alert prescriptions and properly dispose of narcotic waste. They demonstrate knowledge of the patient during pain management procedures by recognizing risks, preemptively addressing concerns and being available to address unexpected problems. These nurses report any patient exam abnormalities to surgeons, anesthesiologists and operating room staff. Pain management nurses are specially trained to immediately recognize and respond to emergency situations in a calm and controlled manner. Before any patient is released, they ensure that the person and the family receives and understands written discharge instruction.

Career Competencies

Pain management nurses support and adhere to personnel policies related to adverse incident reporting, quality improvement programs, patient safety initiatives and risk management activities. Due to the fact that their work is highly sensitive with serious consequences from minor mistakes, they participate in best practices, quality control and other teams and committees to improve patient care. Pain management nurses must have impeccable communication and compassion skills because they must positively interact with patients who are experiencing serious discomfort, physical agony and chronic psychological stress. Pain management nurses should encourage harmonious working relationships, patient-nurse interactions and positive customer relations. Pain management nurses who float and consult between departments must demonstrate dependability, accountability and a willingness to help others.

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Pain management nurses are expected to have a bachelor’s degree in nursing from an accredited nursing school. They should have BLS Certification, registered nurse licensure from the state and two or more years of experience as a clinical nurse. Some programs require them to achieve special certifications, such as the Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) credential.