There are five steps in the nursing process. These are assessment, diagnosis, planning, intervention, and evaluation. The assessment step collects data about the patient that is analyzed to arrive at a nursing diagnosis. A care plan is then developed that describes what must be done to address the symptoms of the nursing diagnosis. The care plan is then enacted during the intervention step and the results are then evaluated. The care plan terminates if the goals of the plan are achieved or revised if the goals are not achieved. Before any medication is given to a patient, the nurse must assess a number of factors that include the drug order, drug actions, interactions, and contraindications.

Educating the patient about medication is an important responsibility for the nurse. The nurse must explain why the medication is given and how the patient can self-medicate. The nurse must also make sure that the patient and the family know the signs and symptoms of adverse side effects from the medication as well as any toxic effects and dietary considerations to follow while taking the medication.

Cultural factors typically influence the patient's belief about health and can impact medication prescribed to treat a patient's illness. The nurse must put aside his or her own opinion about those beliefs and work within those limitations when caring for the patient.

Genetic, ethnic, and racial differences play a role in the physiological response to drugs. Some groups of patients are less responsive to certain medications because of genetic factors; other groups of patients can experience a toxic effect because of hereditary traits.

Drugs can have different effects on the very young and the elderly because of physiological changes in their bodies. The very young have immature organs that are not yet able to metabolize, absorb, distribute, and excrete certain drugs.

Likewise, the elderly have mature organs that might have lost the capability to properly process medication. Furthermore, the elderly may require multiple medications simultaneously that can result in drug interactions that produce adverse side effects.

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