Nursing is a challenging but rewarding career that offers a unique opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others. Nurses work in a variety of settings, from hospitals and clinics to schools and community health centers. They also provide support and care to patients and families.
The nursing profession has a long history, dating back to the time of Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing. Today, nurses are required to have a formal education, and many choose to pursue advanced degrees.
If you are considering a career in nursing, you may be wondering what to expect. Read on to learn more.
What does the nursing career entail?
A career in nursing offers a wide range of opportunities and potential rewards. If you are considering a career in nursing, you may be wondering what you can expect from the job.
Nurses play a vital role in the provision of healthcare. They work in close partnership with doctors and other health professionals to provide care for patients. Nurses may work in various settings, including hospitals, GP surgeries, clinics, and community health centers.
Nursing is an exhausting but rewarding profession — as a nurse, you will make a difference to the lives of your patients every day. If you are compassionate, detail-oriented, and interested in helping others, a career in nursing may be the right choice for you.
Here are several nursing responsibilities as listed by the American Nurses Association (ANA):
- Performing physical exams.
- Offering health promotion, education and counseling.
- Obtaining health/medical histories.
- Administering wound care, several health interventions, and other medications.
- Research responsibilities.
- Supervising staff such as nursing assistants and LPNs.
- Collectively coordinating patient care with other healthcare team members.
- Taking part in critical decision-making.
Advanced practice nurses
Advanced practice nurses (APNs) are nurses who have additional education and training beyond the standard Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). You can choose to pursue your advanced degree program long-term or part-time, depending on your needs.
For instance, you may decide to pursue the Doctor of Nursing Practice programs, which are considered the highest level of education that a nurse can achieve. The program is a rigorous academic program that takes approximately two to three years to complete. With the DNP program, you will be better prepared for leadership roles in nursing practice, education, and research.
There are many other advanced practice registered nurses specialties, including:
. Nurse practitioner (NP)
A nurse practitioner (NP) is a healthcare professional who is trained and licensed to provide a variety of medical services. NPs are similar to physician assistants (PAs), but they have more training and education.
NPs can diagnose and treat medical conditions, order and interpret diagnostic tests, and prescribe medications. They also provide patient education and counseling and act as patient’s advocates.
NPs provide care for people of all ages, from infants to the elderly. They work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, clinics, private practices and nursing homes. Their specialties include acute care, family health, adult health, women’s health, gerontology, oncology, neonatal health, pediatric health, and mental health, among others.
. Certified nurse-midwife (CNM)
Certified nurse-midwives (CNMs) are registered nurses who have additional education and training in the delivery of maternal, newborn, and women’s healthcare.
They are specially trained to provide medical care during pregnancy and childbirth, as well as care for newborn babies and mothers. Their training also helps them to screen for pregnancy risks such as preeclampsia and gestational diabetes. CNMs also perform prenatal tests.
According to the American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM), there are several benefits to having a CNM as your healthcare provider, including more individualized care and fewer complications during childbirth.
. Certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNA)
Certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) are nurses who have additional education and training in administering anesthesia.
CRNAs typically work in hospitals, but they can also work independently. CRNAs may be involved in surgical procedures, such as surgeries and dental care, or they may work in anesthesiology departments at hospitals.
CRNA certification is necessary for practicing anesthesia independently. To complete their certification, CRNAs must pass national board exams and complete an approved curriculum in anesthesiology.
. Clinical nurse specialist (CNS)
The goal of the clinical nurse specialist (CNS) is to provide care to patients with complex, chronic, and advanced diseases.
Specifically, a CNS is a registered nurse who has completed additional training in one or more specialty areas. A CNS works closely with physicians, other health professionals, and patients to provide care for the most complex and difficult to manage conditions, such as cancer care, neurological disorders, and cardiac disease.
CNSs provide education and training to healthcare teams and patients. They also conduct research to collect data on evidence-based patient treatment methods.
Becoming a nurse
To become a nurse, you need to have extensive training and education in the field. The prerequisites for nursing school depend on the level of nursing program you are planning to pursue.
There exist two types of nurses: a registered nurse (RN), and a licensed practical nurse (LPN).
RNs manage healthcare facilities and provide direct patient care. The scope of practice and education that an RN and LPN receive differ.
Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) are licensed to perform nursing tasks, such as administering medications and bathing patients when necessary — they cannot perform the level of duties as RNs. An LPN only needs a one-year certificate from a vocational or trade school or even a hospital. To become a qualified LPN, you will need to pass the NCLEX-PN exam.
To become an RN, you need to complete an approved program, which usually lasts at least three to four years. You will receive a bachelor’s degree in nursing and clinical practice in one of the several areas of nursing study, such as pediatrics or adult health.
An LPN can choose to further their education by pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) or an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) through bridge programs, which can take two to four years.
There are many ways to become an RN, but the most preferred route is a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). This is a four-year program that prepares students for a career in nursing. The program includes coursework in the sciences, liberal arts and nursing. Upon graduation, students are eligible to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) to become registered nurses.
What to expect in a nursing career
As a central part of the entire healthcare team, nurses play a vital role in shaping the healthcare future. It is a demanding field that requires both theoretical knowledge and practical skills. However, the rewards of a nursing career can be great, both in terms of job satisfaction and earnings potential.
Wondering if a nursing career is ideal for you? Well, here are a few expectations you ought to be aware of before you think of joining this growing, rewarding field:
. You will need strong communication and time management skills
The clinical tasks nurses perform demand a lot of communication with patients and other team members. For those patient-focused individuals who have good listening and problem-solving skills, this is a perfect match. If you enjoy working in teams and have time management skills, this could be your calling.
. Nursing school will be challenging
If you have already enrolled in college or university, you know how challenging it can be to keep up with your coursework and exam schedules. Suffice it to say, the nursing school will be as challenging as your other classes. To ensure a smooth transition into the nursing career, make sure that you are prepared for what lies ahead.
Additionally, clinical nursing requires clinical practices that are not taught in nursing school, such as acquiring skills for intravenous (IV) therapy and managing IV medications. You will need to be very alert in practical situations in the hospital and clinic.
. Social life may not be your cup of tea
Nursing is not all about patients — on the contrary, nurses must work with the whole healthcare team. So, you need to be a team player and enjoy communication with different professionals such as physicians and other nurses.
However, you will need to be patient and understanding in dealing with patients who have depression and other mental disorders. It is not an easy job at all to care for people who are in pain or having a hard time coping with the hospital environment.
. There are many opportunities to advance your nursing career
Once you have completed your training, you are ready to begin your career as a registered nurse (RN). With the right qualities and hard work, you can advance your nursing career and become an advanced practice nurse. Many RNs who have gained experience in the nursing profession and hold a higher degree can become nurse practitioners or even advance to an administrative position in a hospital or school.
Besides, the job satisfaction and earning potential of the nursing profession make it ideal for you. If you are an intelligent, caring person, you can advance your nursing career and enjoy a rewarding profession.
. There are several nursing specialties
Nurses who are interested in these specialties can gain experience through job rotations at hospitals while gaining knowledge of new medical advancements. You will have the opportunity to work in an array of specialties and environments — from the emergency room to long-term care, day-to-day community care and surgery, there are endless opportunities.
Endeavor to join the nursing career and reap the perks
It takes enormous commitment and dedication to become an accredited nurse. Choosing the right field and specialties will also increase your chances of landing a rewarding nursing job. However, as with all careers, the secret in this industry lies in being dedicated, hard-working and patient when it comes to gaining experience or furthering your education.
With the growing need for nurses, choosing a nursing career could be rewarding and challenging. Aside from helping people, you will have excellent opportunities in the healthcare industry. The most rewarding part of the nursing career is serving people who need help, comfort, support and compassion.