Interventions are the backbone of nursing. The term describes any action nurses may take to improve the health and comfort of their patients. For those considering advancement in the field, nursing interventions are a crucial concept to master.
What Is a Nursing Intervention?
According to the Journal of Nursing Education, nursing interventions can be described as one of two ideas:
- Any task that a nurse does to or for a patient.
- Anything a nurse does that leads directly to a patient outcome.
These tasks may be general or specific and direct or indirect. Examples of areas of patient care interventions include:
- Sleep pattern control
- Mobility therapy
- Compliance with diet
- Infection control
- Alcohol abuse control
- Positioning therapy
- Bedbound care
- Energy conservation
- Postpartum care
Nurses may work in specialized settings (i.e. ICU, oncology, pediatrics), which may require knowledge of specific interventions unnecessary in other areas. Although every nurse may not be familiar with every intervention, the concept remains universal across the field.
Nursing Intervention vs. Nursing Assessment
Nursing interventions are often confused with nursing assessments. Although both are essential aspects of a nurse’s work, the practices are distinct.
Assessments may be done by both nurses and physicians. They are how medical personnel gain information about a patient’s symptoms and ailments. According to AMN (American Mobile Nurses) Healthcare Education Services, there are four types of possible assessments:
- Comprehensive health assessments, which require a thorough review of a patient’s health.
- Abbreviated assessments, which are done when lengthy evaluations are not required.
- Problem-focused assessments, which are designed to focus on a specific ailment or medical issue.
- Assessment for special populations, which are used for medically significant groups of people, such as infants or the elderly.
During assessments, nurses may gather information about:
- Patient health history
- Chief complaints
- Present health status
- Condition of external body areas such as the skin
- Neurological conditions
- Condition of internal systems such as cardiovascular, pulmonary or musculoskeletal
- Patient nutrition
Nursing interventions are informed by the results of nursing assessments. While the ultimate goal of an assessment is to decide on a course of treatment, an intervention in many cases is the treatment. Nursing interventions also go beyond simply “fixing” a patient medically. These actions can include:
- Crisis therapy and stress control
- Terminal care and hospice
- Bereavement support
- Meals on Wheels
- Communicating with nurses and physicians
- Coordinating nursing care and conducting status reports
- Universal health precautions
Because nursing interventions describe nearly every interaction nurses have with patients, a thorough system is used to identify and evaluate their work.
Understanding the Nursing Interventions Classification System
The Nursing Interventions Classification (NIC) system is designed to categorize and describe every possible intervention a nurse might perform. This system is constantly used, evaluated and updated. Nursing Interventions Classification (NIC) 6th Edition describes a number of uses for the system. They include:
- Clinical documentation
- Standardized communication regarding care
- Research on intervention effectiveness
- Productivity measurement
- Evaluations of competency
- Curriculum design
According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, the system contains several levels of classification. The first level consists of seven broad domains:
- Health System
- Physiological: Basic
- Physiological: Complex
Within these domains are 30 classes, followed by lists of the interventions themselves. There are currently 554 interventions in total.
Although the sheer number of interventions may seem daunting, it is important to remember that most nurses do not need to be familiar with or use all the interventions.
Your Future in Nursing
As a system that helps nurses both understand and improve the quality of care, nursing interventions are an occupational mainstay. For practicing nurses seeking to further develop their knowledge base, the RN to BSN online program at Husson University provides an exceptional curriculum designed to transform careers. Because the program is offered fully online, working professionals can earn their degree in a format designed for their life.