including a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA), Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), and a bridge to Registered Nurse (RN) program. The American Nurses Association defines nursing as the act of protecting, promoting, and optimizing an individual's health, preventing sickness, disease and injuries, diagnosing and treating human ailments, and advocating patient care, including the patient's family, community, and others. Nursing careers offer a broad variety of roles with heavy responsibilities. Nurses work alongside physicians to address day-to-day patient situations within the health care system. The physician mainly makes the key decisions regarding the diagnosis, treatment, and medication per the patient's situation. Nurses ensure that the patient receives the prescribed treatment on an ongoing basis until establishing a full recovery.
Education, Training, and Certification for Several Nursing Career Paths:
According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, there are three educational choices to become a nurse of various degrees, including obtaining a diploma from accredited nursing programs, an associate degree in nursing, or bachelor of science degree in nursing. Most prospective nursing students opt for an associates or bachelor's due to their availability as opposed to diploma or trade schools with extensive waiting lists. Prospective students must pass a pre-entrance exam that qualifies them for enrollment into the nursing program. Whether the student chooses an in-house training program or online nursing programs, he or she must conduct the proper research to ensure that the institution is nationally or regionally accredited. A degree from an unaccredited nursing program will grant applicants zero nurse jobs in a hunt for a nursing career.
After completing the nursing training program, students must pass the NCLEX-RN (PDF) or NCLEX-PN. To meet the educational standards during their college years, nursing students will volunteer at certain hospitals, offices, clinics, hospices, emergency room, intensive care, and other government and corporate entities to gain more hands-on experience. The certified licensure exams test students on their ability to recognize applicable and situational problems. Volunteering enables students to graduate with work experience under their belts, similar to nursing internships that may led to work-for-hire after the student successfully obtains their license. Prospective students also engage in clinical settings that mimic real-life patient scenarios that measure the student's decision-making capabilities. Students enrolled into online nursing programs, such as online LPN programs or online RN programs, should make an extra effort to volunteer and enroll into a nursing internship, otherwise employers will question the student's ability to recognize textbook material in real-life situations.
A traditional LPN program or RN program opens the door for an abundance of nursing occupations waiting to be filled by licensed nurses. Since roughly half of all nurses work in hospital settings, students must attempt to have clinical settings approved by the facilities' management staff. Nursing graduates and licensed practitioners can expect to have many bumps along the way; however, dedication and determination can lead to a fulfilling nursing career. Nursing, an ever-evolving career, requires licensed practitioners to stay current on the various methods, terminology, and standards relevant to the nursing field. Since CNAs and LPNs lack the necessary experience and knowledge of RNs, it has become known that a bridge to RN program will prove beneficial in gaining the continuing education not previously pursued before the traditional nursing program ended. Continuing education courses can help push certain LPNs and RNs to a supervisory or instructor-type role.
Where Do Nurses Work?
Nurses work anywhere doctors work, including hospitals, doctor's offices, clinics, hospices, emergency rooms, critical-care units, private homes, schools, and government and corporate entities. Nearly half of all nurses work in a hospital; however, LPNs are becoming less prevalent in a hospital environment. Nurses immerse themselves into the patient's lifestyle, providing comfort and hygiene to administering medications and intravenous injections and IV's. Nurses are also responsible for updating medical records, and conducting minor therapeutic and diagnostic procedures. Nurses usually work varying hours based on his or her role. Specialty nurses, such as a surgical nurse, assist in the operator or handle the equipment and supplies prepared before the operation began to post-operative care. Specialty nurses may obtain a Master's degree or higher to obtain jobs in targeted nursing fields, such as pediatric, cardiac and oncology.
Nurses of all levels uphold a primary rule of consistency called the “nursing process (PDF).” The nursing process details how a nurse approaches each patient case, and includes five distinct steps: assessment, diagnosis, planning, implementation, and evaluation. During the assessment phase, the nurse will collect data and then identify the underlying cause of the problem in the diagnostic phase. Next, the nurse will plan a method to prescribe and handle the problem before putting it into action. Finally, the nurse will evaluate the effects of the implementation and document its final results. The nursing process can end at any stage of resolving the problem.
The Career Paths of LPNs and RNs
Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN) have completed the least amount of education between the two nurse subtypes. Licensed Practice Nurses only require one year of coursework right after high school to start working in the field. Therefore, the range of nursing opportunities are not as vast for LPNs as they are for Registered Nurses (RN). An RN, a nurse with an advanced diploma in nursing, a bachelor's degree in nursing (BSN) or an associate degree in nursing (ADN), and has passed the nursing certification exam typically makes more than a LPN. Advanced Practical Registered Nurses (APRN) have fulfilled the general RN requirements and then continued on to study at a Master's level. APRNs generally focus on advanced studies in a specialty field, where they will obtain a deeper understanding of the targeted position. Advanced Practice Nurses include job titles, such as Clinical Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNA), Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNS), and Nurse Practitioners (NP).
Nursing offers job stability during a sluggish economy. Nursing also carries a consistency in terms of scheduling, locations, and levels of responsibilities. Many nurses enjoy the philanthropy involved in a nursing career, which allows them to positively impact the lives of others in need of assistance. Nursing can be a lucrative occupation, especially in a specialized role, including leadership and management positions. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average compensation for a nurse ranges between $43,000 to $63,000 with the top 10% of nurses making over $75,000.
The only pitfall to a nursing career lies in the shortage of nurses, which can cause inevitable burn-out due to stressful hours and not having enough staff to complete each patient case. Nurses also work oddball hours, which makes it difficult to engage in family life. In fact, many nurses work nights and weekends. Nurses require a tough personality to deal with serious issues on an ongoing basis. In other words, nursing is a profession best suited for individuals who love to help others, and wish to make a difference in the lives of others. Nursing is viable option for those who have a keen sense of detail and love to analyze data.