Nursing Careers

Are you considering a career as a nurse? If so, you will have to think carefully about whether you are suited to such a demanding job.

First, you will have to study to get the appropriate qualifications, and you will also have to decide what type of nurse you would like to be. Nursing is an important job, so you need to make sure you are prepared for the reality of the career, which can include long hours and having to experience difficult situations on a daily basis.

An Overview of Nursing

The following information gives a general overview of nursing. It includes the levels of nursing positions available, the traits that make a good nurse, the qualifications you need and the salary you can expect. With such an important job as nursing, which deals with life and death situations, you will want to spend time contemplating whether it is the right career for you. However, as with many careers in the health sciences, you may find that a career in nursing is worth it because of the impact you can make on a daily basis.

Nursing covers a wide range of careers, from practitioners at an entry level to researchers at the doctoral level. Nurses assist patients in coping with illness, prevent diseases and promote health care for patients, families and communities.

When providing care to patients directly, nurses record symptoms and reactions in patients. They also observe and assess the progress of their patients. Nurses administer medications and assist physicians in examinations, treatments and surgery. Nurses can work in a variety of settings, such as hospitals, private care homes and private practices. The main types of nursing positions are:

  • Hospital nurses.
  • Nurse practitioners.
  • Home health nurses.
  • Public health nurses.
  • Head nurses.
  • Occupational health nurses.
  • Office nurses.

Nurses usually have to spend a lot of time on their feet, either walking or standing, so you need to have a reasonable level of fitness to do the job. Nurses also often work nights, weekends and holidays because patients need to have 24-hour care.

If you are thinking of embarking on a nursing career, you should think carefully about the nature of the day-to-day job. Not only can there be long hours and particularly busy shifts, you will also be exposed to hazards such as caring for people with infectious diseases.

What types of people become nurses?

Nurses are caregivers, so people with caring personalities are ideal for nursing careers. Working as a nurse is not just about giving physical care. It is also about providing emotional support to patients and their families. If you are empathic and compassionate, a nursing career could be perfect for you.

There are many other traits you will need to possess to work well as a nurse. These include:

  • Having emotional strength. It is no easy task to see patients suffer and families breaking down. If you are unable to cope with emotionally charged situations, a nursing career may not be the best option for you.
  • Having physical strength. Not only will you be on your feet all day, you will also need to lift patients and perform other physical tasks. Therefore, you need to make sure you are physically fit and strong.
  • Having attention to detail. In health care, you must pay strict attention to details. You will have to multitask and juggle several patients’ needs at the same time. You will also need to be focused on the huge amount of paperwork that is required daily.
  • Having great communication skills. Your daily work life will be centered around talking to and liaising with doctors, patients, families, hospital administrators and law enforcement individuals, so you need to possess excellent communication skills.

What qualifications do you need to become a nurse?

Once you have a high school diploma or an equivalent diploma, you can choose from a variety of educational options to become a nurse. You can either become a licensed practical nurse, also known as an LPN, or a registered nurse, also known as an RN. An LPN can enroll in other classes later on to become an RN.

If you want to become a nurse, you have multiple career education options. You can study at a college, a vocational school or with a hospital education program to gain a diploma, associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree. Gaining a bachelor’s degree will allow you find more jobs after you graduate, but it will take longer and be more expensive.

Typically, courses for diplomas and associate’s degrees last for two years, whereas bachelor’s degrees usually last for four years. Courses of study involve a combination of laboratory work, clinical experience and lectures in various fields, such as pathology, anatomy and microbiology. If you are considering becoming a nurse, you may be interested in pursuing online education. However, before you do this, be sure you understand if online education is right for you by weighing the pros and cons.

Before you can work as a nurse, you also need to earn a state license. To do so, you will have to pass the National Council Licensure Examination, which is administered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing. Individual states may also have particular additional requirements, so make sure you check which qualifications you need for the state you wish to work in.

What is the difference between licensed practical nurses and registered nurses? LPNs perform basic tasks. These include recording patients’ vital signs and assisting them with daily tasks. On the other hand, RNs oversee patients’ medication and run tests. Basically, LPNs provide general care while RNs provide more specialized skills.

Licensed vocational nurses, also called LVNs, need to take an accredited educational program to be qualified to work. Programs take approximately one year of study. As with LPNs, the types of tasks you are able to perform in the workplace are more limited than for RNs. Both licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) and licensed practical nurses (LPNs) can work in the field for one or two years while they study for their degrees to become RNs.

How much do nurses earn?

Your salary as a nurse would differ depending on your city and state. Salaries are also dependent on your education and experience. For registered nurses (RNs), the annual wage is between $57,000 and $103,000. The best-paying states are California, Hawaii, Massachusetts and Oregon. States that pay the least are South Dakota, Arkansas, Mississippi and West Virginia.

Salaries for licensed practical nurses (LPNs) also vary depending on where you live and your level of experience. The average annual salary for an LPN is $39,030. The highest 10 percent earn over $53,000 annually, whereas the lowest 10 percent earn a little over $28,000 annually. Where you fall in this range depends on your location, but it may also depend on your skills. This is why it is important to keep in mind general job search strategies when you have graduated as a nurse.

Licensed vocational nurses earn an average annual salary of $47,540. The minimum LVNs usually earn is $35,500, and the maximum they earn is over $67,000. As with the other nurses’ salaries, the amount you are paid depends on the state where you work and your level of experience.

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