As part of nursing school, student nurses rotate through different medical care environments to obtain practical experience for their future work. These rotations can involve a stint in the delivery room of a hospital, where a student nurse will be learning the skills of a "labour and delivery nurse." Although the student nurse is there to learn, she many also participate in the care of the patient and be given responsibilities that a practicing nurse would normally handle.
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First and foremost, a student nurse is there to learn from her more experienced colleagues. Although the work she does can assist them, the delivery team often operates without a student nurse and if the student nurse spends much of her time simply asking questions and watching the delivery can still operate smoothly. A student nurse should focus on getting a feel for the stages of labour and what they look like, what a nurse's role is in any procedures that are performed and how experienced nurses handle difficult situations.
A student nurse is able to administer medication with supervision. This includes medication that is given through an IV, and a student nurse may occasionally be allowed to participate in giving an epidural, although this is less common. The student nurse will be supervised but when she administers any medication she is responsible for knowing why the medication is being given, any special instructions for administering the medication, its possible side effects, what to monitor after the medication has been given (blood pressure, breathing, lab tests) and when to hold the medication.
If blood tests are performed because of the nature of the delivery, a student nurse is often responsible for drawing blood and ensuring that it is sent to the lab quickly. She also ensures that the correct blood tests are requested. Blood tests may be required during the delivery if the mother has received limited or no prenatal care.
A large part of the role of a nurse in the delivery room is to monitor the mother and baby and to provide patient care. A student nurse will perform many of the same care and monitoring duties that a labour and delivery nurse does, while under supervision. It is likely that a student nurse will feel the cervix to determine its dilation, will monitor the baby's heartbeat and will monitor the mother's physical and mental well being during the delivery process.
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- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Rapid HIV-1 Antibody Testing during Labor and Delivery for Women of Unknown HIV Status: A Practical Guide and Model Protocol; Sept 2006