A head-to-toe assessment of a patient allows a nurse to assess the physical state of a patient and diagnose or assist in the diagnosis of an ailment. Some of the parts of a body on a nurse's head-to-toe assessment checklist include eyes, ears, head, skin, skull, eyebrows, tongue, heels, fingers, torso and toes.
Because the nurse is often the first medical professional to see a patient, her assessment can help a doctor know how to focus her efforts when she sees the patient. When a nurse checks on a patient's skin, she is checking to see that it is uniform in color and that there is no foul odor. In evaluating the head, skull and face, she looks to see that the head is rounded and symmetrical and that the skull has no contusions or depressions. The face should similarly be devoid of out-of-the-ordinary growths. As a nurse checks on a person's eyes, her job is to check to see that the cornea is smooth and shiny. She also looks to see if the pupils in both eyes are black and the same size. Then, when checking bones and joints, a nurse must see if there are any bone deformities or swelling around the bones. She's also responsible for noticing if muscles and joints work smoothly together.