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DR009: What is Pathophysiology

Podcast Transcription

Hey guys, Susan with NRSNG. I wanted to talk to you a little about pathophysiology and the importance of understanding and knowing pathophysiology. I personally found pathophysiology to be a very difficult class but it is one of the most important classes for you to learn and understand because it will help you put together all pieces of the puzzle for nursing.


Pathophysiology is basically what is going on on a cellular level in your patients’ bodies. Why they’re having nausea/vomiting, or why they’re having a headache. The symptom that they’re having or [sign and 00:00:48] symptoms they’re having would be a headache, we would try and figure out what cellular process, what is causing that. Are they having a pinched nerve? Are they dehydrated? What is the patho behind it? What is the reason that it’s happening.


Nurses that understand pathophysiology do really well. It’s a very, very important aspect of nursing that can help you figure out better treatments. It can help you connect better with your patients because you’re able to explain to them what is going on, because that’s really what they want to know anyway. They want to know why they feel the way they do. It’s going to help you make them feel better.


A lot of the times when I am asked pathophysiology questions because I’m in the emergency department and we don’t always know right away what the issue is, I will give them many examples or many reasons why something could be happening. One of the most commonly explained pathophysiology is, “Why in the heck am I checking a two hour Troponin? What is a Troponin? You already drew my blood.” I try to explain to people that we’re eliminating their heart as an issue and we are attempting to do that by checking a cardiac market that your heart can release when it’s under stress. There are lots of reasons why your heart might be under stress, so if your patient came in with the chief complaint of chest pain, we want to make sure that they’re not having a heart attack or they’re not having another type of heart issue. If it is having an issue it would release that cardiac markers. Patients are like, “Why would you check it twice?” I’ll explain to them, “Because sometimes your heart is delayed when it releases it.”


Knowing that pathophysiology behind it really helps patients calm down and helps them to feel better about what it is that’s going on. If you are able to say, “I can’t 100% say that it’s not your heart right now but your EKG look good and your first hour, or your zero hour Troponin was negative,” you’re able to explain to them the process and what you’re doing, the reasons why you’re doing it, and explaining to them that you’re eliminating certain things in their body as not the issue.


Pathophysiology, it’s super important and I highly recommend that you dive into it deep. It is a very tough topic but it’s going to help you out in the long run.


Date Published - Jun 23, 2016
Date Modified - May 29, 2019


Written by NRSNG Team

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