Nursing And Nutrition

Nursing and Nutrition


Patrick D. Quinn

Nursing involves all aspects of health care including diet and nutrition. Nurses who work in a hospital or long term care facility must work with patients who have special dietary and nutritional needs. Some may eat a diet of pureed food, while others need specific portions or meals that can be specially prepared to avoid the use of allergens like peanuts or soy products.

Even in clinical and research settings, nurses are required to know the nutritional value of the products they are using and how they will impact the patient. The manufacturing and preparation of foods is strictly regulated in the healthcare industry. Nurses must be sufficiently trained on how to administer special diets and symptoms to look for in the way of nutritional deficiencies so adjustment can be made when needed.


Whether a patient is fed normally with a spoon and fork or whether they receive their meals through a gastric by-pass tube, their nutritional needs are still the same. A nurse must have adequate training and skills to handle each patient’s food safely and efficiently so they get as much of the required nutrients as possible. Patients rely on the expertise of their caregivers to ensure they are getting what they need nutritionally as well as medicinally. Nurses are a first line of defence in insuring patient nutrition.

Nurses who are required to take the CRNE exam, must have sufficient training in the preparation, handling and storage of the various types of foods their patients need. Food safety training is essential to ensure nurses understand how to handle specific types of foods. Certain foods and medicines have an extremely short shelf life and must be disposed of within a short period of time to prevent spoilage and keep patients from getting sick.

It is a nurse’s responsibility to make sure a doctor is aware of any changes in a patient’s condition. This includes their ability to consume and utilize the foods they are given. Patients who were originally on solid food, but begin to have trouble chewing or swallowing may need to be put on a pureed, or soft food diet. The nurse who oversees their care will often times, be the first to notice these difficulties. They will also be the first to notice when a patient fails to thrive.

A patient who begins to lose weight even though normal meals are being consumed, may have digestive issues that prevent them from utilizing the nutrients they are receiving through their diet. A well-trained nurse with a nutritional background will be able to notice these changes and take the proper steps to help the patient and physician resolve those issues. Part of the CRNE exam is created with real life examples of this sort of problem, to encourage registered nurses to know how to diagnose problems.

Visit Academy of Applied Pharmaceutical Sciences (AAPS) Inc. for more information on other nutrition careers related training, such as HPLC training for food and drug safety.

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Nursing and Nutrition