The Advantages of Primary Nursing

nurse chris image by John Keith from

Primary nursing is one system of delivering nursing care; a primary nurse, or PN, is assigned a particular patient and cares for him from admission until discharge while he is on the ward. It is often utilised in hospice, home health and select hospital wards such as the intensive care unit (ICU).

The nurse may be responsible for one or more patients during her shift. Primary nursing has many advantages.

Creates a Central Figure

The PN is the central figure in the assigned patient's care. Both health care disciplines and members of the patient's family must be aware of the patient-nurse relationship so they can look for her when they have questions or concerns about the patient. When the lines of communication are open, the PN appears responsible, knowledgeable and approachable.

Promotes Autonomy

The PN carries out orders that are written during the day, develops care plans, and provides basic care like giving baths or changing wound dressings. She learns to become incredibly efficient and organised during her shift. Care plans, which are individualised to the patient, are communicated to staff members. Secondary nurses who work the evening and night shifts, plus associate nurses who fill in during the PN's absence, must follow the plan to ensure continuity of care.

Encourages Specialization of Skills

Primary nursing produces specialisation of nursing skills due to repetition. When the PN receives a patient with special needs, such as someone with a chest tube, he may initially not know how to care for him. However, he can educate himself about the chest tube by asking other members of the health care team for help. If he handles the chest tube each time he comes to work, he eventually becomes an expert.

Creates Knowledgeable Nurses

Because the nurse takes care of the same patient day after day, she becomes very knowledgeable about her medical history and her treatment plan. She may even know her family members by name. The nurse's familiarity with her patient allows her to communicate effectively with members of the health care team. It also enables her to detect subtle changes in the patient's condition that may require immediate action.

Promotes Strong Nurse-Patient Relationships

Primary nursing strives to create a strong nurse-patient relationship by building trust. As the bond between the PN and his patient strengthens, the patient becomes confident about his abilities. She trusts that he is working to her benefit. The result of a strong, positive nurse-patient relationship is greater patient satisfaction, which leads to decreased recovery time and shorter length of stay.