What does a bariatric nurse do?

A bariatric nurse is a type of surgical nurse who specializes in treating patients undergoing or recovering from bariatric surgery. This type of surgery is usually intended to stimulate weight loss in people who are obese. The procedures generally work by temporarily or permanently altering the stomach's ability to retain food, or the way the digestive tract absorbs nutrients from food. A good bariatric nurse usually has several years of specialized training in those particular concerns of bariatric patients. In general, they can meet the specific needs of a bariatric patient before surgery,

The typical bariatric nurse must help bariatric patients manage themselves in hospital facilities. These patients are often extremely obese and therefore may require highly specialized medical equipment. Stretchers, gurneys, ambulances, and other devices designed for use by patients of healthy weight may not be suitable for the needs of the bariatric patient. Because specialized equipment can be in short supply, these patients are often at risk of succumbing to obesity-related medical complications while waiting to receive care, especially in an emergency situation. One of the main tasks of the bariatric nurse may be to help keep patients alive while waiting for medical help.

These surgical nurses also often require strong problem-solving skills, as patient needs can vary widely from one patient to another. Organizational, leadership, and planning skills are considered essential, as the average bariatric nurse will have multiple patients at the same time and will need to manage a team of subordinate health care professionals. In addition to years of specialized training in bariatric surgery and the care of bariatric patients, a bariatric nurse will also need good people skills, not only dealing with co-workers and subordinates, but helping patients understand and accept the risks of surgery and make necessary post-operative lifestyle changes.

Once a patient is recovering from bariatric surgery, the bariatric nurse is usually tasked with educating that patient on healthy lifestyle and nutritional options. The nurse will often need to counsel the patient regarding emotional and psychological issues related to obesity and weight loss, and may organize therapeutic support groups for patients. Bariatric nurses will typically monitor their patients' progress after surgery, ensuring dietary and exercise requirements are met and guarding against any complications that may arise.

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