Growth in the nursing field is anticipated to increase by 26% before 2020. With continuing medical advancements, and the growing numbers of aging baby boomers requiring healthcare, there is currently a shortage of nurses which is predicted to persist for several years.
Nursing is hands-on patient care, requiring caring and compassion; and often is a vocation, as well as, a career. Not only do nurses have several comfortable nursing scrubs to choose from, they also have more career options available to them now more than ever before. The broad field of nursing includes a variety of nursing types and positions, resulting in a wide range of career opportunities.
Many entry-level nurses have attained a three-year registered nurse degree, although the professional trend is moving toward requiring nurses to attain a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. Many nursing schools have options for accelerated degree programs for nursing students, both bachelor’s and master’s.
RNs have graduated from a nursing program and passed the national licensing exam. RNs take their instructions from physicians and are the head of the nursing staff. Their chief purpose is to ascertain that a patient’s needs are being met with satisfactory health care in a safe setting.
RNs practice in a wide variety of healthcare settings including hospitals, medical offices, schools, community healthcare centers, homeless shelters, and prisons. Their numerous responsibilities include: Physical exams, Completing health histories, Counseling and education, Dispensing medications, Wound care, Coordinating, directing, and supervising care with other healthcare professionals, Conducting research
Professional nurses may then choose to become specialists in a particular nursing area, everything from cardiac care to plastic surgery to perinatal and trauma and more.
Advanced Practice Registered Nurse
RNs who attain a master’s degree and complete additional clinical practice requirements attain the level of advanced practice registered nurse and can provide direct care to patients. There are four main APRN categories.
- Nurse practitioners (NP) provide various preventative and primary health care services, diagnose and treat some common injuries and illnesses, and prescribe medication. NPs are found in private offices, clinics, hospitals, and nursing homes.
- Certified nurse-midwifes (CNMs) take care of gynecological and obstetrical needs for healthy women in birth centers, hospitals, and homes.
- Clinical nurse specialists (CNSs) offer care, consultations, education, administration, and research for a wide assortment of physical and mental health difficulties. They work in private offices, hospitals, nursing homes, community based venues, and clinics.
- Certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) dispense over 65% of anesthetics administered to patients yearly.
Licensed Practical Nurses
One of the main differences between RNs and LPNs is the length of schooling required. RNs can attend community colleges for a two-year degree or get a bachelor’s degree. LPNs can finish their educational program in 12 to 14 months. Both nursing types are required to pass the state exam.
LPNs provide fundamental and everyday patient care under the supervision of an RN, APRN, or doctor. LPN’ direct care job responsibilities include basic hospital visit patient care.
- Technological advancements mean that nurses are expected to be proficient with computers for acquiring and saving patient data, and researching treatment options. Protection of patient data is of particular importance in the digital age and nurses may even need to know about VPNs for security, for example.
- Patients are now living longer, resulting in an increase in chronic diseases and a shift in how patients with acute illnesses are cared for.
- Nurses are expected to have attained higher levels of administrative, management, and medical skills to deal with healthcare reforms and an aging population.
The broad field of nursing presents a wide range of opportunities - and challenges. With today’s integrated health-care networks, and the wide-range of specialty areas, nurses have almost limitless options and flexibility.