In fulfilling the demands and meeting the increasing standard of patient care, nurses need to hold complex clinical reasoning skills, a working understanding of applied scientific disciplines, empathy, and human interaction, basic administrative and multiple task managing abilities.
Presently, there is a shortage of nurses in the United States, and nurses are in demand in many health care facilities including emergency and critical care departments of hospitals, city health organizations, residencies, K-12 schools, health maintenance organizations, and clinics in underserved areas.
Apart from becoming an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN), employment prospects are especially favorable for nurses that are willing to travel or are multi-lingual.
Professional Licensure: The LPN and RN
Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)
LPNs/LVNs (Licensed Practical and Vocational Nurses) are also professional members of the nursing care spectrum, however LPN licensure is not equivalent to the RN; because of this roles in specialized or emergency care are restricted. However, LPN to RN transition programs bridge this gap. Requiring physician or RN supervision, LPNs work in non-critical care settings and outpatient facilities. Education for this credential requires approximately 12 months preparation at a vocational school, community college or teaching hospital. No degree is obtained as these are strictly licensure training programs that prepare students for the NCLEX-PN.
Registered Nurse (RN)
To practice as an RN, you are currently required at minimum complete an associate degree (ASN or ADN) in nursing curriculum, including clinical instruction/experience, which culminates in achieving a passing score on the NCLEX-RN. Diploma programs are still available, however obtaining a degree is highly recommended to improve job opportunities and make career advancement easier. Considered the modern foundation for becoming a professional nurse, RNs can provide basic and specialized patient care in all health/medical settings. It’s also possible to become an RN through completion of a bachelor’s or master’s nursing program.
Registered Nurse: The APRN’s Core Foundation
Based upon degree of schooling and time practicing as a professional, nurses can occupy a multitude of positions in the health care sector. Every professional nurse is required to earn licensure as an RN (Registered Nurse) by means of graduating from an an accredited academic institution and passing a standardized exam – the NCLEX-RN (National Council Licensure Examination in Nursing). In contrast to other medical professionals, such as physician, it’s important to know there is not a singly defined academic pathway to become a nurse. Some earn an associate’s degree on their way to becoming nurse, while others with non-nursing undergraduate degrees get into nursing through completion of a master’s level program.
Professional roles for nurses are abundant and diverse with opportunities as an aircraft emergency nurse, a family nurse practitioner, an orthopedic nurse, a travel nurse, an oncology, a nurse educator, an epidemiology nurse, a nurse attorney, and a pain management nurse to name a few – the options are extensive; opportunities are available in almost every field of health care. In carrying out due diligence, you should research as much as you can the advanced practice nurse (APN) positions and numerous specialty fields. It also helps to speak with nurses whenever you can or volunteer in a clinical facility where you can get a first hand look into different nursing duties. You should also know it’s common for nurses to transition or advance to different roles during their nursing career, so don’t feel as if your specific career decision is a final one.
Advanced Practice Nursing Careers
Advanced Practice Nurses are Registered Nurses (APRNs) that have completed a graduate level nursing program, specialized clinical competencies and additional certification/licensure that make them proficient in a certain field of nursing practice. Post-bachelor’s education in nursing is offered through master’s and doctoral degrees.
Nurse Practitioner (NP)
NPs are knowledgeable health care specialists who carry out a number of the duties and responsibilities customarily performed by physicians. NPs are qualified in providing full patient examinations, diagnosing and treating basic emergencies, illnesses and injuries, giving immunizations, ordering lab and radiology work, prescribing medications and counseling patients. The NP operates both as part of a team with physicians and autonomously.
Certified Nurse MIdwife (CNM)
Experts in the application of OB/GYN care of women in comparatively good health. CNMs typically work in medical centers and clinics, as well as help deliver newborns in birthing facilities and at patient residence. This type of APRN supplies care to women from adolescence through menopausal years and may work in tandem with an OB/GYN physician, offering care and support to patients who experience issues related to birth or reproduction system.
Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)
Nurse Anesthetists are specifically skilled in the administration, regulation and monitoring of anesthetics to patients undergoing surgical procedures. CRNAs have the ability to work autonomously or under a some level of oversight from an anesthesiologist or other physician, as determined by local medical legislature.
Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS)
Advanced scientific proficiency in a distinct clinical specialty (i.e. neuroscience, hematology, oncology), providing expert patient care or carrying out clinical studies to improve patient results. Apart from medical practice or research, functions can also involve teaching and consulting. CNSs commonly offer guidance to other nurses.