Why a Nursing Student Should Learn Microbiology?
Microbiology is the study of microorganisms, such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites, that are invisible to the naked eye but have a profound impact on human health and disease. Microbiology helps nursing students build their foundation in the importance of health and safety in the nursing profession. This prerequisite course can help nursing students gain a firm grasp of what their day-to-day lives will consist of once they become nurses.
Nurses must have sufficient education and training in microbiology to perform many roles within clinical nursing practice, such as:
- Administering antibiotics and other antimicrobial agents
- Collecting specimens for microbiological testing
- Preparing specimens for transport and delivery to the laboratory
- Educating patients and families about infection prevention and control
- Communicating results and recommendations to the healthcare team
- Developing care plans based on results of microbiology studies and patient immunological status
Microbiology also helps nurses understand the pathogenesis, epidemiology, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of various infectious diseases that affect different body systems and organs. Nurses encounter patients with infections in various hospital units, such as burn units, obstetric units, intensive care services, central sterile supply units (C.S.S.U), operation theaters, and communicable disease wards. In these units, nurses need to know how to prevent contamination, sterilize the environment, maintain hygiene, control the movement of microbes, and prevent the spread of infectious diseases to other patients and staff.
Microbiology helps track the negative and positive outcomes of the microbes’ work. Microorganisms have the ability to change as they affect their environments. The adaptation to certain therapies and medications is what makes the study of microbes so important to the nursing profession. For example, some bacteria can develop resistance to antibiotics, making them harder to treat. Some viruses can mutate and cause new strains of diseases, such as influenza or COVID-19. Some fungi can cause opportunistic infections in immunocompromised patients. Some parasites can cause chronic infections that affect the quality of life.
Therefore, microbiology knowledge is essential for nursing students to become effective nurses in practice. By learning about microbiology, nursing students can enhance their skills in critical thinking, problem-solving, decision-making, communication, and teamwork. They can also develop a sense of curiosity, responsibility, and professionalism in their field. Microbiology can help nursing students prepare for the challenges and opportunities that await them in their future careers.
Nurses must have a solid foundation in microbiology to work effectively in various hospital units. Microbiology is the study of microorganisms, such as bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites, that can cause diseases or infections in humans and animals. Nurses need to know how these microorganisms interact with the human body, how they are transmitted, how they can be prevented and treated, and how they can affect the health and safety of patients and staff. Here are six main areas of knowledge for nurses in hospital units that require microbiology:
- Burn units: Burn units are specialized areas that treat patients with severe burns that damage the skin and underlying tissues. Burn patients are at high risk of developing infections from bacteria and fungi that can enter the body through the damaged skin. Nurses need to know how to prevent and treat these infections by applying sterile dressings, administering antibiotics and antifungals, and maintaining a clean and hygienic environment.
- Obstetric unit: Obstetric unit is the area that provides care for pregnant women and their newborns. Nurses need to know how to prevent and manage infections that can affect the mother and the baby during pregnancy, labor and delivery, and postpartum period. Some of these infections include urinary tract infections, group B streptococcus infection, chorioamnionitis, mastitis, endometritis, and neonatal sepsis. Nurses need to know how to screen for these infections, administer prophylactic or therapeutic drugs, and educate the mother on hygiene and breastfeeding practices.
- Intensive care services: Intensive care services are areas that provide critical care for patients with life-threatening conditions or injuries. These patients often have compromised immune systems or invasive devices that make them vulnerable to infections from bacteria, viruses and fungi. Nurses need to know how to prevent and treat these infections by following strict infection control measures, such as hand hygiene, personal protective equipment, isolation precautions, disinfection and sterilization of equipment, and surveillance of nosocomial infections. Nurses also need to know how to administer antimicrobial drugs, monitor their effectiveness and side effects, and identify signs of septic shock or multiorgan failure.
- C.S.S.U: C.S.S.U stands for Central Sterile Supply Unit, which is the area that cleans, disinfects and sterilizes reusable medical instruments and equipment. Nurses need to know how to perform these processes correctly and safely to ensure that the instruments and equipment are free from any microorganisms that can cause infections or cross-contamination. Nurses need to know how to use different methods of sterilization, such as steam, ethylene oxide gas, hydrogen peroxide plasma, or peracetic acid. Nurses also need to know how to store and transport the sterilized items properly and maintain quality control records.
- Operation theaters: Operation theaters are areas where surgical procedures are performed. Nurses need to know how to keep the operation theater sterile and prevent any introduction of microorganisms that can cause surgical site infections or postoperative complications. Nurses need to know how to prepare the patient for surgery, scrub their hands and arms, wear sterile gloves and gown, drape the patient with sterile sheets, assist the surgeon with instruments and sutures, and dispose of contaminated materials. Nurses also need to know how to monitor the patient`s vital signs, fluid balance, wound healing, and signs of infection after surgery.
- Communicable diseases wards: Communicable diseases wards are areas that treat patients with infectious diseases that can spread from person to person through direct or indirect contact. Some of these diseases include tuberculosis, hepatitis, HIV/AIDS, measles, chickenpox, influenza, COVID-19 etc. Nurses need to know how to prevent and control the transmission of these diseases by using appropriate isolation precautions (such as airborne precautions for tuberculosis), administering vaccines or antiviral drugs (such as oseltamivir for influenza), collecting specimens for laboratory testing (such as sputum for tuberculosis), educating the patient and family on prevention measures (such as cough etiquette for tuberculosis), and reporting any outbreaks or cases to public health authorities.
As you can see from these examples, microbiology knowledge is essential for nursing students who want to become competent nurses in practice. By learning microbiology concepts and skills in lectures or labs you will be able to apply them in real-life situations in different hospital units. This will help you provide safe and quality care for your patients and protect yourself from any potential infections.
Microorganisms are tiny living things that can only be seen with a microscope. They include bacteria, viruses, fungi, protozoa and algae. Some microorganisms are beneficial to humans, such as those that help in digestion, fermentation and decomposition. However, some microorganisms are harmful and can cause infections, diseases and even death.
Nurses who work in different hospital units need to understand the types, characteristics and behaviors of microorganisms that they may encounter in their daily practice. This is because microorganisms can affect the health and well-being of patients, staff and visitors in various ways. For example:
- Microorganisms can cause infections in wounds, burns, surgical sites, blood, urine, respiratory tract and other body parts. These infections can lead to complications such as sepsis, organ failure and death.
- Microorganisms can spread from one person to another through direct contact, droplets, aerosols, fomites or vectors. This can result in outbreaks of communicable diseases such as COVID-19, influenza, tuberculosis and hepatitis.
- Microorganisms can develop resistance to antibiotics and other drugs. This can make the treatment of infections more difficult and costly.
- Microorganisms can contaminate the environment and equipment in the hospital. This can pose a risk of infection to anyone who comes in contact with them.
Therefore, nurses need to have a solid foundation in microbiology to prevent, diagnose and treat infections caused by microorganisms. They also need to apply the principles of infection control and prevention to protect themselves and others from exposure to microorganisms. Some of the skills that nurses need to acquire from microbiology studies are:
- Identifying the common microorganisms that cause infections in different hospital units and their modes of transmission.
- Collecting and handling specimens for microbiological testing and interpreting the results.
- Choosing and administering appropriate antibiotics and other drugs for treating infections caused by microorganisms.
- Implementing standard precautions and isolation measures to prevent the spread of microorganisms among patients, staff and visitors.
- Cleaning and disinfecting the environment and equipment to eliminate microorganisms.
- Educating patients and families about the prevention and management of infections caused by microorganisms.
By learning microbiology, nursing students can become competent and confident nurses who can provide safe and quality care to patients in various hospital units. Microbiology knowledge is essential for nursing students to become effective nurses in practice.
- Intensive care nurseries: These are units where premature or critically ill newborns are cared for. They have many types of equipment and devices that can harbor bacteria and viruses, such as ventilators, catheters, feeding tubes, and monitors. Nurses need to know how to prevent contamination and sterilize the environment for these vulnerable patients. They also need to know how to identify and treat common infections in neonates, such as sepsis, meningitis, pneumonia, and necrotizing enterocolitis. Microbiology knowledge can help nurses to choose the appropriate antibiotics, monitor the response to treatment, and prevent the development of antibiotic resistance.
- Burn Units: These are units where patients with severe burns are treated. Burns are open wounds that can easily get infected by bacteria and fungi, especially if they cover a large area of the body or involve deep tissues. Nurses need to maintain high levels of hygiene and wound care to prevent infections in burn patients. They also need to know how to recognize and manage complications of burn infections, such as septic shock, organ failure, and gangrene. Microbiology knowledge can help nurses to select the best dressing materials, apply topical antimicrobials, culture the wound for pathogens, and administer systemic antibiotics when needed.
- Obstetric Units: These are units where pregnant women and their babies are delivered. During childbirth, mothers and babies are exposed to many microbes that can cause infections, such as group B streptococcus, Escherichia coli, chlamydia, gonorrhea, herpes simplex virus, and human immunodeficiency virus. Nurses need to prevent postnatal and puerperal infections in mothers and neonatal infections in babies. They also need to know how to screen for and treat sexually transmitted infections in pregnant women and their partners. Microbiology knowledge can help nurses to perform rapid tests for infections, administer prophylactic antibiotics or antivirals, educate mothers on hygiene and breastfeeding practices, and refer cases to specialists when necessary.
- C.S.S.U: This stands for Central Sterile Supply Unit. This is a unit where medical instruments and equipment are cleaned, disinfected, sterilized, and stored. Nurses need to control the movement of bacteria and microbes from this unit to other areas of the hospital. They also need to ensure that the sterilization methods are effective and safe for the users and patients. Microbiology knowledge can help nurses to understand the different types of microorganisms that can contaminate medical devices, the modes of transmission of infections, the principles of disinfection and sterilization, and the quality control measures for sterile supplies.
- Operation Theaters: These are rooms where surgical procedures are performed. Any microbes present during surgery can pose serious risks for the patients and the surgical team. They can cause surgical site infections, wound dehiscence, implant failure, septicemia, endocarditis, and osteomyelitis. Nurses need to keep the theater sterile by using their microbiology knowledge. They need to know the type of microbes on every surface and instrument in the theater, the sources of contamination during surgery, the methods of aseptic technique and surgical scrubbing, and the use of personal protective equipment and sterile drapes.
- Communicable disease wards: These are wards where patients with infectious diseases are isolated and treated. Some examples of infectious diseases are tuberculosis, influenza, measles, chickenpox, malaria, typhoid fever, hepatitis B, and COVID-19. Nurses need to prevent the spread of these diseases to other patients and staff in the hospital. They also need to provide supportive care and administer specific treatments for each disease. Microbiology knowledge can help nurses to understand the causative agents of each disease, the modes of transmission and prevention of infection, the clinical manifestations and complications of each disease, and the diagnostic tests and therapeutic options available.
Microbiology is the study of microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites that can cause diseases or infections in humans and animals. Nurses encounter these microorganisms every day in different hospital units and need to know how to prevent, diagnose and treat them. Microbiology knowledge can help nurses in many ways, such as:
- Protecting themselves and their patients from harmful microorganisms by following proper hygiene and infection control measures.
- Identifying the signs and symptoms of various infectious diseases and providing appropriate care and treatment.
- Understanding the mode of transmission, prevention and treatment of common communicable diseases such as tuberculosis, hepatitis, HIV/AIDS and COVID-19.
- Performing laboratory tests and interpreting the results to diagnose infections and monitor the effectiveness of antibiotics or antivirals.
- Educating patients and their families about the causes, risks and prevention of infections and diseases caused by microorganisms.
- Collaborating with other health professionals such as doctors, pharmacists and microbiologists to provide optimal care for patients with infections or diseases.
As a nursing student, learning microbiology can help you develop the skills and knowledge you need to become a competent and confident nurse in any hospital unit. You will be able to provide safe, effective and evidence-based care for your patients and contribute to the improvement of public health. Microbiology is not only a fascinating subject but also a vital one for your nursing career. Therefore, you should take advantage of the opportunities to learn microbiology from your lectures, textbooks, online courses and practical experiences. By doing so, you will be well prepared to face the challenges and rewards of being a nurse in the modern world.
We are Compiling this Section. Thanks for your understanding.