Knowing what to expect when you choose to pursue a career in nursing can be very helpful. There are over three million licensed registered nurses in the United States alone. Nurses are in high demand because of the rising number of people who are seeking quality medical care.
Nurses have four primary roles within a health care team:
- Help physicians in treating and helping patients
- May help physicians diagnose the condition of patients
- Can provide immediate treatment after assessing a patient’s condition
- Responsible for providing support and guidance to other staff members, such as doctors and other specialists in the healthcare setting.
Are you considering a career in nursing? Before you find a guide to writing a healthcare resume, there are several things you should learn first about a nursing career. This article will help you better understand what nurses do and the job opportunities in store for you in case you choose to pursue this path.
There Are Two Main Types Of Nurses
- There are two main types of nurses. The first is a Licensed Practical Nurse or LPN and the second one is a Registered Nurse or RN. The educational requirements are different for each type, and it also depends on the degree at which a nurse plans when advancing their career.
An LPN receives a certificate or degree from a vocational school or hospital after one year of training and education. They can perform simple nursing duties. However, they aren’t allowed to provide the same level of care as an RN. A person with an LPN must pass the National Council Licensure Examination or NCLEX-PN to obtain a license.
If you have an LPN, you can continue your education and pursue an Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN) or Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). Several schools offer bridge programs for those interested to advance their careers. When an LPN pursues any of these programs, they can become an RN.
Most LPNs would pursue BSN as the training is more extensive compared to an associate’s degree. BSN is a four-year program, and it includes coursework, clinical skill development through a hospital, or other medical field experience. After their studies, they should pass the National Council Licensure Examination or NCLEX-RN to get another license.
Licensing requirements vary from state to state. Each state will determine its own set of requirements. They typically include completing a bachelor’s degree, completing relevant RN licensure courses, and gaining experience as a registered nurse.
It Takes One To Four Years Of Education To Become A Nurse
To become a nurse, you should undergo training and education for at least a year. As mentioned, you need one year of training and passing the licensure examination to practice as an LPN. If you want something more advanced, you can directly take BSN for four years and pass the licensure examination to practice legally.
Some nurses seek an advanced degree, which means they pursue post-graduate degrees to specialize or increase their chances of promotions in their current jobs. Nurses seeking an advanced degree will require additional education beyond their primary nursing education, ranging from two to five years, depending on the degree being obtained.
There Are Various Jobs Suitable For Nurses
Nurses can be found in virtually every healthcare setting, from hospitals and clinics to home health agencies and nursing homes. They provide patients with medical attention, administer medicines, and assist with daily tasks that allow patients to retain their independence.
Although many nurses have a direct hands-on work environment, some also perform vital tasks performed by doctors. Examples of these tasks include:
- Performing physical examinations
- Suturing wounds
- Providing care and therapy for those who are injured
- Training new nurses
There’s also a wide variety of administrative jobs for nurses to choose from. It ranges from full-time executive positions to part-time administrative positions, and can include different nursing positions, such as contract nursing, private duty nursing, and community health nursing.
There Are Different Specializations
The highest paid nurses are usually trained to perform more specialized nursing jobs, which require higher levels of education and certification. Here are some of the growing nurse specializations you should know about:
A surgical nurse, also known as a surgical scrub nurse or surgical nurse technician, specializes in providing medical care to patients before, during, and immediately after surgery. The most crucial task a surgical nurse performs is preparing the patient for surgery by cleaning and putting on sterile equipment.
Surgeons usually order a preoperative intravenous or IV sedation to calm a patient’s heart rate and prevent them from feeling too much pain or stress during the procedure.
Throughout the surgical process, the surgical nurse will monitor the vital signs of the patient and hand instruments to the attending surgical staff. Once the surgical team begins treating the patient, the surgical nurse will return to the operating room to deliver the surgical team supplies.
The neonatal/perinatal nurse plays a vital role in the life of a baby and their mother. As a perinatologist, you’re responsible to care for mothers who have high risk pregnancies and ensure that she and her baby are healthy while they’re in the hospital. The neonatal/perinatal nurse’s primary function is to provide healthcare services such as bathing, diaper changing, feeding, and other primary care that the infant requires while the mother is admitted to the hospital or when the baby is still in the neonatal intensive care unit or NICU.
Once the mother is in labor, the nurse is responsible for keeping the mother comfortable, ensuring that she’s given the necessary postpartum supplies. It’s also the neonatal/perinatal nurse’s responsibility to monitor the baby and their parents’ condition after delivery.
The nurse’s job is essential during the first few months of the baby’s life when they must be closely monitored to ensure that the baby is healthy and that they’re receiving all of the medical care they need.
Pediatric nursing focuses on caring for children and neonates, generally in day-care or in-bed hospitals or schools. Pediatric nurses are employed to provide direct patient care to infants and small children. Pediatric nursing jobs require individuals to know necessary nursing skills and familiarity with emergency procedures involving children.
Emergency Room Nurse
The ER nurse is responsible for many duties in the hospital. First, she is the person in charge of taking care of patients who have been injured or ill and require immediate attention from a health care professional.
An ER nurse’s responsibilities include:
- Taking the patient’s temperature
- Checking for visible injuries, such as cuts or bruises
- Looking for signs of infections or other problems that may not be visible at first glance
Once the nurse has assessed the situation, they’re responsible for calling the resident doctor assigned to the ER to prescribe medications or order some tests, if necessary.
Nurses Can Help In Diagnostics And Research
Many nurses choose to go on and obtain a master’s degree or PhD. This further increases the professional credentials that they hold. When a nurse gets their PhD, it’s considered an individual merit award. When they finish their master’s degree, they can become a clinical research nurse.
A clinical research nurse specialist is a licensed and trained nurse who can offer expert guidance regarding specific medical issues, diagnoses, or treatment options for patients. Like a traditional clinical nurse, a clinical nurse specialist performs routine tasks, such as measuring and recording vital signs of patients, and directing treatment. As a clinical nurse specialist, you’ll help doctors evaluate and treat illnesses or injuries.
They can work in the lab, which typically involves working with patients under the supervision of a physician. They may also be interested in research projects or serve in other administrative capacities at hospitals or other healthcare facilities. A career as a clinical nurse specialist can be both lucrative and rewarding, providing a high level of job satisfaction and the opportunity to provide support in terms of research, so new techniques and medications are made for patients.
Nurses Can Choose To Pursue A Degree In Medicine
Many nurses are thinking of taking steps towards a career in medicine. Having a bachelor’s degree is essential, so if you want to pursue medicine in the future, it’s better to take BSN first. Before taking the Medical College Admission Test, or MCAT, BSN graduates may take pre-med subjects, like physics and chemistry first.
All nurses must have a minimum level of education, and must successfully pass a licensing exam before they can practice. Every state has its requirements, which are based on the applicant’s competency and experience and their training. Once you have your license, you can practice legally or choose to pursue further studies and specialize. You can also choose to go into the field of medicine and become a doctor. The bottom line is that the opportunities for those in nursing are endless, that’s why more people are pursuing this career.