Understanding Physical Assessment for the NCLEX

What is a Physical Assessment? A physical assessment is a routine part of a registered nurse’s job and is used to assess a patient’s condition and to document any changes that have occurred during the course of their treatment. An examination is received at the beginning of their stay in the hospital or facility and is used to identify potential problems that may be causing poor health or general pain and discomfort. An assessment is performed during their stay once treatment has started. The goal of performing regular assessments is to determine how the medications and other treatment methods are working and to try and figure out if any changes should be made to the patient’s care plan. Their are also many alternative medicine for the treatment of people good health specially for the pain and stress.

Assessments are often performed every few hours in the beginning and may be spaced out over several hours after the patient starts to show improvement. The NCLEX exam helps to determine the nurse’s knowledge of both the assessment process, what steps are involved, and what techniques are to be used to gain an accurate representation of the patient’s health. Nurses can then communicate with other healthcare providers to ensure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to what steps have been taken and what ones have been discontinued.

When Performing a Physical Assessment, What Are the Four Techniques That Are Used?

During a physical assessment, four techniques will be used to determine the patient’s current condition. They are normally performed in the same order every time, except for when performing an assessment on the abdomen. The four techniques are used in this order:

  • Inspection
  • Palpation
  • Percussion
  • Auscultation

When used in this order every time, the results will provide a sound representation of the body’s condition at the time the assessment is taken.

However, if a nurse is performing an abdominal assessment, the sequence is changed due to the alteration of bowel sounds during the procedure. An abdominal assessment is performed in the following order: Inspect, auscultate, percussion, and palpation. Maintaining this order reduces bowel sounds and makes it easier to get an accurate reading. An accurate assessment is extremely important when determining the state of the patient’s health. If adjustments to their care plan need to be made, the assessment will show what needs to be done.

What Does a Nurse Look for During an Assessment?

Assessments are used to identify changes that deviate from the patient’s baseline, or normal, numbers. These changes can include changes in the color of the skin, firmness of the tissues (either soft or hard), changes in temperature, and any other identifying characteristics that can be used to determine the patient’s current state of health and well-being. By identifying these changes, a nurse can determine if a patient is recovering appropriately or if changes need to be made in one or more areas of the treatment plan.

Continual assessments provide valuable information and also offer feedback on the proficiency of the treatments being provided by the client. The NCLEX exam ensures that nurses know what they are looking for and what may be causing new issues if they have begun to appear. The use of the NCLEX exam is a valuable tool that is used to ensure that each nurse has received the training they need to work with patients and provide them with the level of care they need.

Why Does the NCLEX Exam Stress These Techniques?

The NCLEX exam stresses the understanding of the techniques and best practices associated with the physical assessment of patients because they are needed to ensure that the patient is receiving the care they need. The NCLEX exam describes specific scenarios and situations that a nurse may find themselves in and asks them to give the most accurate answer to the question being posed. This type of testing is a great way to evaluate a nurse’s strong points as well as the weak areas. Nurses who take the NCLEX and pass can prove that they have met the strict standards that are required before they can begin working directly with patients.

Stressing these protocols and best practices are of the utmost importance when it comes to ensuring that every patient that comes under the care of the nurse receives the treatment that is needed in a timely fashion. It also enables the nurse to communicate changes in the patient’s condition with the doctor so that a proper evaluation can be made. The NCLEX exam also ensures that a nurse understands how to properly document changes in the patient’s condition so that others can be made aware of what is going on.


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