Understanding Physical Assessment for the NCLEX
April 2022

Understanding Physical Assessment for the NCLEX

Understanding Physical Assessment for the NCLEX

Physical Assessment for the NCLEX

A Physical Assessment is a physical intake exam nurses use to identify potential problems causing poor health or general pain and discomfort. What is a Physical Assessment? A physical assessment is a routine part of a registered nurse’s job. It assesses a patient’s condition and documents any changes during the course of 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.

When to Perform a Physical Assessment

Assessments are often performed every few hours in the beginning. They are then repeated 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 communicate with other healthcare providers to ensure everyone is on the same page. This way, all parties know the treatment needs of the patient.

What Are the Four Techniques That Are Used?

During a physical assessment, the four techniques determine the patient’s current condition. They are performed in the same order every time, except for an assessment of the abdomen. The four techniques are used in order.

  • Inspection
  • Palpation
  • Percussion
  • Auscultation

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

However, if a nurse performs an abdominal assessment, the sequence changes 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 are made, the assessment shows 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 and firmness of the tissues, either soft or hard. In addition, they include changes in temperature or other characteristics used to determine the patient’s current state of health. 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 to look for and what may be causing new issues that appear. The use of the NCLEX exam is a valuable tool. It ensures that each nurse is properly trained to work with patients and provide the level of care they need.

Why Does the NCLEX Exam Stress These Techniques?

The NCLEX exam best practices for the physical assessment of patients ensures the patient receives the care they need. In addition, the exam describes specific scenarios and situations a nurse routinely encounters. Students must give the most accurate answer to the question. 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 prove that they have met the strict standards required to work directly with patients.

These protocols and best practices are vitally important to ensure every patient receives the treatment they need 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. This is vital to make others aware of the patient’s status.


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